A Thoughtful Review of Blue Like Jazz

After having had the great privilege of studying under Dr. Steven Garber last Fall as part of the Capital Fellows Program at McLean Presbyterian Church, among many other things I now know, at least somewhat better, how to judge a good movie from a bad movie.

In short, good movies tell the truth about the way things are, and bad movies lie.

One day in class, in his most endearing way Dr. Garber insisted that “it isn’t how many bare bottoms are in a movie that determine whether it is a bad film or not, but whether the movie tells the truth about the bare bottoms.”  An oddly-worded litmus test for sure, but definitely one you can take to the bank.

For all the many, many Hollywood films that either sugarcoat the brokenness of our World, or ignore it, there are a handful of white-washed Christian films that in the interest of not promoting or featuring sin, end up doing the very same thing.  While Hollywood’s films often fail in not telling the truth about the bare bottoms, films that are a product of a Christian Evangelical  subculture often fail because they pretend that the bare bottoms aren’t actually there.

And so it is refreshing to see a movie like Blue Like Jazz based on the book by Donald Miller.  The film is edgy and gritty and probably wouldn’t pass the litmus test of self-described “family friendly Christian” media outlets, but thankfully the film tells the truth about the way life can be for a Christian teenager trying to figure out what he or she believes en route to the secular university.  I offer Gary Furr’s review of this comedic drama here, and while Blue Like Jazz may not be shone during very many church youth group meetings, it is a good film to enjoy and to consider for those who strive to know the world for all its brokenness and yet still love the world.

Jay Bilsborrow interned at The Washington Institute during his fellows year and currently attends Emory Law School.

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