College is rough period of transition regardless of your background and upbringing; for Donald Miller (True Blood’s Marshall Allman), being a Texas transplant and dedicated Christian at a liberaler-than-thou Pacific Northwestern university amplifies that sense of adjustment hundredfold. The longer this transfer student hangs out with outré campus characters (militant lesbians! anticorporate activists! a dude named the Pope who, like, is an atheist!) and is exposed to new ways of thinking, the more he finds himself drifting from his faith. Based on specific sections of the real-life Miller’s popular 2003 memoir, this coming-of-age flick would be piss-poorly made even without the whither-God? aspects; the fact that the author’s searching, if achingly posthip, proselytizing is given the same belabored, graceless treatment as the film’s generic collegiate high jinks only sours the deal further. The movie adaptation’s version of religion may be more nuanced than the usual Left Behind fire-and-brimstone sermonizing you find in much contemporary pro-Christian cinema, but it still leaves behind a sulfuric stink.
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