Blue Like Jazz the Movie

While I was at The Simply Youth Ministry Conference this past weekend I was able to see a screening of the new movie Blue Like Jazz. A few years ago I was able to see a screening of the movie To Save a Life at SYMC and I wrote a review of it you can see here on my blog. I wanted to do the same for Blue Like Jazz so I could provide a review for anyone who may be interested in the movie or anyone who is just interested in hearing my thoughts on it.

Blue Like Jazz the movie is based on Donald Miller’s book Blue Like Jazz. The movie is not an exact replication of the book, but is a story that is based on the book. Blue Like Jazz, the book, explains the story of Donald Miller’s journey through Reed College and his search for faith. The movie takes the same approach as it follows a young man who grew up in Texas. He grew up in typical Bible belt Baptist church and never really knew why he believed what he said he believed. He was the perfect “church kid”-youth leader, preached, etc. But once he finds out some bad news about one of the church leaders he snaps and heads to Reed College. Reed College, one of the world’s most liberal colleges, gives him one crazy experience. While he was there, he partied, got drunk, and abandoned his faith. After meeting another Christian and experiencing a few things, the movie concludes with a fuzzy (in my opinion it was a  fuzzy and not clear) confession of his faith.

The only really positive thing I saw in the movie was the picture it painted of most “Christian” students that leave church and enter into a new world of secular universities. Many students, like the guy in this movie, are all wrapped up in a “Christian bubble” and never taught to own their faith in non-christian world. The guy in this movie shows what happens to most church kids. They leave home and enter into a college where partying and questioning truth is popular. This movie showed the real and disturbing things that go on colleges campuses that oppose Christians and discouraged them from being bold followers of Jesus.

I’ll be honest, this movie had more negatives for me than positives. The amount of cursing and inappropriate scenes made the movie almost hard to watch. The biggest negative was the fact that the Gospel was left out. No where in the movie was there a clear picture of the Gospel. Because of the content of this movie, it would be hard to show students and actually use it as a teaching point in a youth group or college group.

Overall, the movie brought up good questions and showed us what we are dealing with when we work with college students. I would recommend this movie to someone who wants to see the devastating transition many go through when they leave high school and enter a secular college. Click here to check out the official website for the movie and watch the trailer. You can check out their Facebook page as well.

Published by Austin McCann

Austin is the student ministries director at Redemption Chapel in Stow, OH. He has a BA from Piedmont International University and a Master of Arts in Religion with a Christian leadership focus from Liberty University School of Divinity. Austin enjoys reading, writing, playing basketball and golf, and spending time with his family.

Join the Conversation


  1. “No where in the movie was there a clear picture of the Gospel. Because of the content of this movie, it would be hard to show students and actually use it as a teaching point in a youth group or college group.”

    I think if you went into the movie looking for this, you were bound to be disappointed: it wasn’t written as a presentation of the Gospel, a systematic theology, or a teaching tool. If you’re looking for that, I’d recommend something like “Courageous” or “Fireproof.” Not all good Christian art has to be boiled down to a Gospel presentation in order to be good, Christian, or art.

    1. Ross,

      Thanks for taking the time to read my review and leave me some of your thoughts. I did not go into the screening looking for a “Gospel presentation” and as you said, I don not necessarily thing every good Christian movie needs a Gospel presentation. I may need to change some of my wording in my review to make this clear. But even without a presentation, I would like to see the Gospel in every Christian film. The Gospel is what Christianity is all about. Movies like Blue Like Jazz leave out the name of Jesus and the exclusivity of Jesus. Wish Christian films would make the Gospel more plan in their art. That is just my thoughts and do not expect everyone to agree. Thanks for commenting!


      1. Billy,

        Thanks for leaving a comment and asking a great question! What I mean by “Gospel” is 1) we are sinners and in our depravity cannot do anything to earn salvation, 2) Jesus Christ lived a perfect, righteous life and died on the cross, was buried, and rose again so we can have salvation through Him, 3) Jesus Christ alone is the only way to God and by faith in Him we are saved. I am not saying every Christian film has to make a “Gospel presentation,” but we need to make sure we are promoting Christ and the Biblical Gospel, not a substitute of any kind. Hope this answers your question.


  2. I’m very interested in seeing the movie. I read the book when I was in my early 20’s and I loved it, but I’ve decided I’m going to go back and reread the book to see if I still feel the same about it. Thanks for giving your review.

    1. Josh,

      Thanks for reading and leaving a comment man! I’m enjoying your blog and your thoughts your sharing on it about the church. I read the book as well a few years back and liked it. The book, and movie, brings up good questions about the Christian faith and the church in general, but doesn’t necessarily provide good answers.


  3. Thanks for the review, like others, I’m not sure why you expected a gospel presentation. In one comment, you said “Wish Christian films would make the Gospel more plan in their art.” It seems to me that all the Christian films seem to force a clear gospel presentation into the film, whether it fits or not. I just watched Courageous for the first time tonight. It was a well-done film, but it felt like the verbal gospel presentation was a bit forced. Not all stories have a clear death-and-resurrection gospel presentation, just like not all biblical stories do. If we expect every faith-based film to have a verbal gospel presentation, I think we’re really putting the artists and filmmakers in a bad position. Do we expect this from musicians? How many bands make a clear gospel presentation in every cd they make? Probably not many. Should we expect them to?

    Let’s be honest – Jesus himself never made a gospel presentation as clear as what we seem to expect from filmmakers. On top of that, I really believe that if people are going to see a film like this, they’re going to talk to someone who can share the gospel with them in the midst of a relationship. It’s a film designed to provoke thought and discussion – it wasn’t designed as an evangelistic tool.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s