Movie review: Blue Like Jazz

From the April 19, 2012 edition

It’s a little unclear whether “Blue Like Jazz” is not a Christian movie or just not the typical Christian movie. While much of the movie is spent criticizing the religion and antagonizing its flock, it’s also about dealing with personal doubts and finding a new road back to the church.

Don Miller (Marshall Allman) is a Texas-born Baptist who sheds all of that when he moves to a liberal Portland college. He immediately befriends a lesbian (a strong Tania Raymonde) and an atheist known as The Pope (Justin Welborn), and he engages in a series of hostile protests against the evils of corporate bookstores and bottled water.

But he is also told on his first day of school that he shouldn’t be open about his faith on campus, which leads him to denounce his own religion in both classroom and social settings. It’s an interesting choice for this type of movie to make and may even alienate many of its targeted viewers, but it helps make this otherwise standard flick a little more watchable.

The problem is “Blue Like Jazz” never really takes these situations anywhere. What starts as a funny, engaging movie ends by messily tying up all the pieces of the narrative, but never answers any of the questions that linger just below the surface.