Christian Movies: Will Blue Like Jazz break the Mold?

Christian Movies: Will Blue Like Jazz break the Mold?

One of the reasons Bob and I wrote Red Like Blood is because we loved the book Blue Like Jazz. Donald Miller writes with a raw honesty that is just plain powerful. Now they have made a movie of the book and we can’t wait to see it.

When I first heard they were making a movie from the book it scared me. I don’t think we do Christian movies very well. The producer of Blue Like Jazz: The Movie, Steve Taylor agrees. See his recent comments in his blog post titled, The Christian Movie Establishment vs. Blue Like Jazz HERE.

A good movie is extremely difficult to make for a number of reasons. But making a Christian movie puts you in the hole right away. Goodness is very tough to make interesting on the screen. I remember seeing the producers of Chariots of Fire talk about how difficult it was to keep the movie interesting because Eric Liddell was such a good person. Evil is much easier to make interesting on film. Think of Scarface with Al Pacino. Do you think anyone would put up with an overdone accent like that for a Christian movie? I suppose making a movie about Tim Tebow would face the same problem. In Chariots of Fire the producers actually had to ask Eric’s sister Jenny if they could make her into a villain of sorts just to add some texture to the film.

Christian movies also need to keep the movie in the PG range for obvious reasons. The problem is that Christianity is about saving sinners and I don’t know about your sin but mine is PG-13 on a really good day.

Christian moviemakers also love to tie up all loose ends and have God work things out in the end. You would be hard pressed to find a single storyline in the movie Facing the Giants that didn’t work out perfectly. The theology behind that is just not good theology period.

So, with that said, I think Blue Like Jazz: The Movie has it’s work cut out for it. To be true to the book it would need to be raw and honest. That means a PG-13 rating at least and all the storylines are not going to end well. It means more drama and less preaching. If that’s what happens, Donald Miller and the producers will need to get ready for some serious heat from Christians. Friendly fire is not so friendly most of the time. This is no exception.

I’m preparing to defend Blue Like Jazz in some respects because our book, Red Like Blood was written with the same type of rawness. Bob and I have felt some of the same friendly fire. We didn’t write the book because we really wanted everyone to know our secrets. We wrote it because we believe God is most glorified when He is seen redeeming what no one else would dare to redeem. Our God loves the unlovable and the unlovable can be downright disgusting.

So, if you decide to go see Blue Like Jazz: The Movie, don’t be surprised if you see Bob and I sitting there eating popcorn and cheering them on.

Here’s the official trailer:

  • Kyle Thompson

    I was able to read the original script while reading Million Miles and was genuinely enthused by the story.  Although my take was this film, if done well, would still be the most evangelistic film ever made that the church at large would never get behind.  After watching the trailer and seeing some of the early scenes, I stand by that assessment…though I’ll be there with popcorn too on April 13th.

    • Joe Coffey

      i would tend to agree with you. i’m not sure any film that was truly effective as an evangelistic tool would ever have the support of the church at large. i’m not even sure why that is except i my non-christian friends would never connect with any of the christian movies i have seen.

  • Haybee Baby

      Blue Like Jazz is on my top 10 favorite book list. I read the entire book out loud on a road trip with a friend quite a few years ago. I didn’t have a voice  by the end of the trip but I was inspired by the raw writing and fresh perspective. I feel apprehensive about the movie but will cheer it on as well!

  • Joel

    Thanks Joe.  I agree with you and what you wrote.  You didn’t directly talk about the cheese factor in most Christian movies.  But I think you addressed it indirectly!  Thanks man!

    • Joe Coffey

      thanks joel. i think you and i probably feel the same way about movies.

  • Sheasley

    Love your “genuine” heart! We just promoted “October Baby” because of Samford’s involvement… too was hard to watch in some respects, but a wonderful story of forgiveness, redemption and grace.
    Can’t wait for this one!!! I loved the book. (and yours)
    See you in May!

  • Jamesreinsel

    Ha! I thought this movie was going to be a documentary on jazz artists. Seriously. Just by the title. I may need to research things a tad more before forming my opinions. That being said, I will see it.

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