Bears. Tall Bikes. Beer.
Three things that appear in the Blue Like Jazz movie along with a writer's ability to tell a story, a producer's faith in the project, and thousands of willing fans that want to make history.
When I first read the Blue Like Jazz book I was intrigued. Donald Miller spoke about faith and spirituality in a fresh way that I coming from a more conservative background had been only recently encountering since I had attended college the three years previous (to reading the book). I was hooked from the start because I felt like I was speaking with Donald Miller at a coffee shop about his views on faith, Jesus, religion, and fathers.
When I heard the movie was coming, it took a while for me to be on board. I was one of the first to be dedicated, and then I saw how important it was that this story came into being.
The story follows a young (and moderately fictionalized) Don Miller as he enters in freshman year at Reed College in Portland Oregon. Trying to escape infidelity and hypocrisy of his Texas Baptist roots, he seeks acceptance in all forms: getting drunk, making fun of God, drinking more beer, riding tall bikes, civil disobedience, and drinking more beer. Don faces the reality that most college freshman do - they feel like a astronaut in a robot invasion, just slightly out of place and trying desperately to belong. In addition, many Christian students, as they transition into new phases like college test God - to prove them that putting their faith in Him has not been a waste.
And Don feels his 19 years as Texas Baptist have been a waste, so he tries to escape. But Don realizes that no matter how much he tries to escape God, he has failed. He realizes there is brokenness in the world - youth pastors mess up, parents let you down, people have affairs, cooperations screw over the little guy but in spite of that there is a lot of good in the world. When the movie is over, many of the character's questions of "where is meaning in life" and "Why would God let this happen to my life" and "Where is God in the broken crap of our lives" remain to be fully answered. The real Donald Miller and Producer Steve Tyler want us to question that for ourselves and come to our own answers.
I appreciate that this movie doesn't wrap up nicely. Many "Christian" movies or many sentimental (they are not always one in the same, but many are) try to have a perfect little ending to their movie - with the answer to the deep questions of life easily spelled out. But you can't answer these deep questions in a two hour movie and I think Blue Like Jazz really does a great job at this. This isn't your typical Christian movie. In fact I used the term "Christian" with hesitance. Does it have a nice ending? No. Does it have a lot of sentimentality? No. But does it talk about Jesus - absolutely. Does it wrestle with hard, deep Christian themes - of course. But beware - if you don't like beer, tall bikes, or bear costumes this movie may not be for you.
The Blue Like Jazz Trailer...