I’m a little late getting this posted and I’m not reviewing it for a particular group. I just figured I’d throw my review online since I know a lot of the folks that follow this blog may be considering renting “Blue Like Jazz“. I was actually a part of the street team long before the this film launched (I’ve got the t-shirt to prove it). We didn’t get a chance to preview it so we were somewhat doing the promos on faith that it would be a good film. I wasn’t ashamed after watching the film that I promoted it, but (stop me if you’ve heard this before) it wasn’t nearly as good as the book.
I watched this last week with my wife. The reason I mention this is because she had never read Blue Like Jazz. She actually enjoyed this film more than I did. I wouldn’t say that either of us were crazy about it, but she did find it a bit more enjoyable. This is a tough thing. First off, I am a HUGE fan of Donald Miller and all of his books. Blue Like Jazz sits among one of my top 10 favorite books as well. That book rocked my world. Sadly, the movie did not. I haven’t seen the Hunger Games, but I would assume others felt that way after reading the books too. It’s really difficult to take a book that was so well liked and turn it into a movie.
For me, Blue Like Jazz (the book) was something that challenged me. It made me think about questions within my own faith. It made me ponder things that I think I just assumed or adopted before. The movie tried to do this, but did it by telling a story that the book didn’t really tell. Sure, there were elements (Reed College and a few of the people from the book), but overall, it was just different. Having read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years (also by Donald Miller and also one of my favorites), I knew going in that this was going to be different. The entire premise of “Million Miles” was that Donald Miller’s life lacked a story. Thus they had to make one up for the movie.
The short of it is this – if you’re going to rent the DVD and expect to have it follow the book, don’t. If you’ve never read the book and think you’ll understand why everyone loves it if you see the film, don’t. If you are going to rent this and expect the moral compass of “Facing the Giants” or “Fireproof”, don’t. If you want an entertaining film that has some elements of the book, then rent it. There are more than a few words that I don’t remember being in the book and elements of the storyline that are, um, questionable. But it was entertaining and had some good thought provoking moments. I’m just being honest.
I give “Blue Like Jazz” a 3 out of 5.