Donald Miller’s ‘Blue Like Jazz’ film set to open
Actor Marshall Allman, who plays Don Miller in “Blue Like Jazz” film, with actress, Claire Holt, who plays “Penny.”
March 9th, 2012
05:00 AM ET

Donald Miller’s ‘Blue Like Jazz’ film set to open

By John Blake, CNN

Raw, gritty, with some foul language - not the typical description of a Christian film. Yet that’s how some are describing the upcoming movie  “Blue Like Jazz.”

The film, based on a bestselling coming-of-age Christian memoir of the same name, is scheduled to premiere Saturday at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas.

“Blue Like Jazz” follows a pious, 19-year-old sophomore at a Texas college who decides to flee his conservative religious upbringing by transferring to one of the most liberal college campuses in America.

The movie is rated PG-13 because of mature themes, and some references to sexuality, drugs and alcohol.

“It’s a little more gritty than a lot of films, and certainly any Christian film,” says Donald Miller, the author of “Blue Like Jazz.” “It’s more raw and real life.”

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The film, which almost didn’t get made due to lack of funding, opens April 13 in theaters nationwide. The movie’s financing fell through at one point but was saved after Miller posted an online appeal.

Miller says the “Blue Like Jazz” film is a hybrid in that it will appeal to a Christian and a secular audience.

“We hope that there’s an enormous demographic of people of faith, and people who have walked away from their faith, who will find themselves somewhere in this story,” he says.

Miller has already reached such an audience with his 2003 memoir. The book is a collection of introspective and irreverent essays where Miller writes about everything from questioning his faith to growing up without a father.

Read about the man who inspired Donald Miller

The memoir appealed to multiple audiences: evangelicals, progressives and “spiritual but not religious” folks who don’t easily fit into any category. It spent 43 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list, tallying at least 1.5 million copies sold.

Miller still sounds stunned at his book’s success.

“I don’t know. I really don’t know,” he says when asked why his memoir has proved so popular. “It’s just one of those rare things. I didn’t expect it to take off. I wasn’t trying to make it take off. I was just really honest about telling this aspect of my life, and other people were able to find themselves in it.”

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Steve Taylor, the director of “Blue Like Jazz,” says he tweaked Miller’s book for the movie. The movie’s main character is younger, lives on campus, and comes from a fundamentalist church.

Taylor says he didn’t want to make a preachy film. Some of his favorite Christian films are “Tender Mercies,” “Of Gods and Men” and “The Exorcism of Emily Rose.”

He sighed when describing watching some Christian films.

“It’s a genre that can preach to the choir,” Taylor says. “If you didn’t know that world, it would feel like you’ve gone into one of those foreign movies where you not only need subtitles, but CliffsNotes.”

Miller says that he’s embarking on a 35-city bus tour starting March 1 to promote the film. Though his book has gone Hollywood, Miller says his life is far from glamorous.

When he was called to talk about his film, he was in the process of moving furniture out of his house, which he sold to help finance the filming of “Blue Like Jazz.”

“I’m in a sweat shirt and tennis shoes, and I didn’t hire movers,” he says. “I’m moving in the opposite direction of Hollywood.”

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Books • Christianity • Culture wars • Entertainment • Faith • Schools • Uncategorized

soundoff (178 Responses)
  1. Alice Shepler

    Great! Thanks for posting this.

    July 11, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  2. Alexander Gartley

    I'm really excited to see a movie like this get made. It's a movie about God made mostly by Christians, and yet it's not a "Christian" movie in the traditional cultural sense. I'm hoping a lot of people see it and it leads to honest discussion about God and religion.

    March 21, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Akhtar

      I think I still failed becsuae this post didn't end up being all that funny -.-' Enjoy and laugh at my failed attempt at being goofy HAHA. If you want a better post to read that is better at being funny and isn't so serious, check out my favoriteCow. NOTE: We're not going to do a T-Shirt day or anything, this was merely a one time post. There are enough copy cats out there, we don't need to be one of them.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  3. Anne

    I have to laugh reading these comments. I got to see a pre-screening of the movie in St. Paul. All these anonymous comment bashers – both sides – would fit right into the movie. That's the beauty of the movie. Christians are not spared criticism. Athiests are good people. So are lesbians, by the way. People are real. The question the movie asks is 'Is God real?' But I don't think it's a movie about God as much as it's a movie about this guy rejecting God. It's a movie made by Christians, but I wouldn't call it a Christian movie as many would define Christian. I think both Christians and non-Christians can appreciate this movie if they dare to see it.

    March 20, 2012 at 11:20 am |
  4. The Obama Christian Church Worldwide

    This is the reason why many people are soon coming here to Washington, D.C. to worship and praise president Obama because he will be God on October 21st of this year. Obama will rule the world and will work with Christ in the rapture of the christian church. This is the good news gospel of Obama and Christ.

    March 19, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
  5. jasonwiedel

    Blue Like Jazz the book affected me like few other books ever have. It started me understanding Christianity in a new way. I look forward to the way this movie will stir more discussion about what faith should look like in American culture.

    March 15, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • Talsampili

      drkstrong on March 15, 2011 @MsSpeakersCorner No body say it was impossible to use the sciiftenic method there just cant ever be proof of a theory because there is always the possibility of a new observation that will show it to be wrong. Boyles LAW looked ever so good for 100 years until scientists could measure temperature more accurately & discovered there were quadratic termsIncreasing Temperatures (False); See watch?v=Ai6ju28nAykAustralia is not the world, I have not done videos on the others yet but will.

      November 10, 2012 at 1:58 am |
  6. PKMA-101

    I found this to be a good book, it came to me at a good time in my life. I look forward to the movie.

    To those of you on this thread, who, with your 3 pound brain, HS or College degree, 15-40 year lifespan to this point, and literally dozens of books and articles and discussions over beer and pretzels, have the mystery of thousands of years and millions of people figured out – Bravo! Don't read the book or see the movie. I guarantee it won't sway you or make you think. You already know.

    For the rest of us, I think it will be well worth the investment of a few hours.

    March 13, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Anne

      I agree. It's a great book. It's a great movie, too. (I got to go to a pre-screening.) Not exactly like the book, but true to the message. I encourage you to encourage people to see it instead of disparaging them. Don't take the bait.The people who you described are the audience this film will resonate with.

      March 20, 2012 at 10:54 am |
  7. Sarah

    Donald Miller came to Story Chicago in 2009 and talked about this film in progress. I'm glad to hear that it has taken shape and will be shown in theaters around the country. Hope his film has as much success as the book.

    March 12, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  8. Awesome

    I think the best thing is that this has potential of being a movie that does appeal to Christians and non-Christians alike. Oh and by the way. My wife was watching a murder she wrote and it had Bill Maher in it. How fun and I wonder if even back then he was opposed to Christianity. I feel sorry for him that he grew such an opposition to Christianity. I wonder what was the tipping point?

    March 12, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  9. Awesome

    I wish there was a little bit more detail about the movie. I hope it does well. I might check it out, I was not one of the 1.5 million that bough the book.

    March 12, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • Jesse

      If you would like to read more about the movie you should check out the article on thegospelcoalition.org website. They have a great, in depth article that both describes the movie and gets into some of the theological questions. As a parent of teenagers/college aged kids I am looking forward to seeing this.

      March 16, 2012 at 10:04 am |
  10. Religion is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer is delusional .

    March 11, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • Prayer changes things

      Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things. Proof posted above

      March 11, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • reason

      What proof?

      March 11, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  11. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 10, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • Jesus

      ~~~~The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!~~...

      March 12, 2012 at 10:59 am |
  12. reason

    The gods of all organized religions, if true, would all be horribly unjust and evil deities to send billions of people to eternal suffering for choosing the wrong one or being born in the wrong place. Looking at organized religion objectively, they are myths from stone age societies that were trying to explain the world, and there is virtually no chance any one is truth.

    Rationally speaking if there is a just god and an afterlife, you will be judged on how you lived your life. Rejecting reason and deluding yourself in blind faith does not help your case.

    March 10, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • exactly

      That is exactly what the movie talks about. You'd fit right in.

      March 20, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  13. Religion is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer is delusional.

    March 10, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Prayer changes things

      Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things. Proof is shown in statement above.

      March 10, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • reason


      March 11, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • Prayer changes things


      March 11, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • reason


      March 12, 2012 at 7:27 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.