New York Times
Blue Like Jazz...
despite a few flaws.
For starters, there are no mysterious, hunky vampire dudes chasing any beautiful, complicated teenage chicks — not one. There is a guy in a bunny suit pursuing a female carrot, but that's not terribly edgy, right? Secondly, there are no werewolves. Aw, c'mon, man! However, in the spirit of full disclosure, I must confess that there is a mean guy wearing a bear suit who steals a bicycle. Hmm, conflict — now we're getting somewhere. But wait. This movie doesn't even have a swashbuckling pirate. Dude, you gotta be kidding me! Yes, it is true that one of the main characters does wear a Pope suit, but that doesn't compare to ol' Captain Jack... does it? And there's no sex either. Oh sure, the cutie who squats to pee for half a second in the men's room is a kind of hot visual, but that's it. In fact, at no time during Blue Like Jazz does anybody even get punched in the sack. There are no wizards, witches or warlocks and NO children are murdered — not by other children or anyone else for that matter.
So how on earth can today's sophisticated YA movie audience embrace a film that lacks such necessary complexities? Simple. The old fashion way — with a well-written, quality story, compelling characters, a talented cast and — close to no budget.
Marshall Allman plays the role of Don, a 19-year-old, "Kool-Aid-drinking" Texan who is delivered from his brainwashing Baptist environment by his deadbeat father via a surprise paid enrollment at a legitimate liberal Pacific West college. Upon arriving at the university, Don begins to experience a life quite different from the one he once led. Along the way, he meets fascinating new people and starts to question the values taught during his proper Christian upbringing.
And therein lies the beauty and power of Blue Like Jazz — despite an obvious spiritual message, the film doesn't preach or condemn — it simply entertains. Oh sure, it would be so typical for those self-righteous Christian hypocrites to produce a movie to further their homophobic, bigoted, racist agenda, right? Sorry to disappoint you, but that's just not the case with Blue Like Jazz. In fact, despite numerous depictions of out-of-control partying and civil disobedience, a message of kindness, compassion, forgiveness and understanding flows throughout the film as even a book-burning, God-hater in a Pope suit played by Justin Welborn is portrayed as an endearing and likable guy.
Claire Holt delivers a wonderful performance as Penny, the ever-cause-conscious Christian, as does Tania Raymonde in the role of Lauryn, the acknowledged campus lesbian. Oddly, neither character is vilified or judged.
A critic writing for a major newspaper commented in his opening day review that although he found Blue Like Jazz to be entertaining, he doubted that the movie would succeed in converting anyone. I did considerable pre-release research on Blue Like Jazz and I don't recall anybody involved with the film ever saying anything about converting anybody! Gee whiz, can't us Christian wackos just make an entertaining kick ass flick that's simply just an entertaining kick ass flick? In the case of Blue Like Jazz, the answer is a resounding YES!