This might be an excuse for me to brag about seeing a rough cut of Blue Like Jazz (the movie based on Donald Miller’s amazing book of the same title), and even more significantly, brag about shaking hands with the director, Steve Taylor. But I’m totally going to blog about it, so here goes.
The movie wasn’t finished – Steve Taylor is making his final tweaks this week, in part based on the surveys we all filled out after watching the film, so anything I say won’t necessarily reflect what hits theaters April 13, 2012. And on top of that, once the story editing is finished, the special effects and sound editing still needs to be completed as well. But even as a rough cut, it was compelling.
What I appreciated about the movie was that it wasn’t afraid to face some really tough questions, the type of doubts and real struggles that young Christians face in their teen years and college years that for many are a breaking point in their faith. It culminates in a powerful scene at the end of the film that really becomes a teachable moment without being cheesy. For those wondering what earns a ‘cheesy’ title in my mind, I’ve only seen one other Christian film that I thought was relevant and cheese-less.
The actors were great, and other than the youth pastor (who was only on screen for a few moments), the characters were incredibly believable. I really found myself resonating with some of the main character’s struggles and doubts with faith in my own faith story – I wrestled a LOT with that in my teens and early twenties.
It will definitely earn it’s PG-13 rating. Between language, content, and some of the imagery (a giant condom on a church steeple … I’m not giving away any secrets here, Donald Miller has been pretty open about that story element), it is edgy. But that’s also what makes it more real, and the reality is, it’s still just a taste of what young people have their faith challenged with daily. Part of me wonders, though, if the film won’t be graphic enough for the secular audience while being too graphic for the Christian audience. It’s a challenge to say the least!
All that being said, I look forward to seeing the finished product in theaters next April. I think I do want to watch it with some of the older teens and college age types … I would love to do so with a coffee shop on the agenda afterwards for some intense discussion. I’m hoping the film team will put some resources/ideas out there, but if not, it’s easy enough to grab some from the book and launch with that. Or just ask what resonated with people and go from there.