Films about religion aren’t anything new but Jesus Revolution isn’t just any film about religion. It’s a movie that deals with a religious movement and how religion can change people’s perspective about religion whether it be good or bad. The 70s were a decade of change and enlightenment but I never knew part of that was a religious movement that changed the country.
Chuck Smith (Kelsey Grammer) is a preacher in California. He has a small parish that hasn’t progressed very much. That is until his daughter brings home a vagrant that looks just like Jesus. Lonnie Frisbee (Jonathan Rounie) is his name. He is embraced by his new friends and in turn, introduces them to his friends. Who are many like himself, hippies? They help each other see the light regarding religion.
A parallel storyline focuses on a young man named Greg Laurie (Joel Courtney, The Kissing Booth Trilogy) Greg is a struggling teen who is looking for some direction and finds it when he meets a beautiful young co-ed. She helps him find a spiritual awakening by joining her and her friends. They hang out together and drink and smoke by beaches and other locations, but this isn’t enough for him. He needs something else in his life.
As someone who was a very religious child and at another point in my life I was very fascinated by this movie and the ideals it is trying to profess. As a child, I was forced to go to church every Sunday until we moved away from our catholic church in Lowell, Massachusetts we all, my entire family, stopped going. That was it for a while until in my thirties I found religion again and it was short-lived before I was sick of the fundamentalist way of thinking from the people that got me back into catholicism again. Religion isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
These characters are fascinating because of their places in society at this time in America’s past. The 70s were a tumultuous time for most people. Young people wanted to have their own voice and older people were trying to hold on to the ideals they had in the 60s and before. Somewhere along the way, these paths collide as young hippies and a straight-laced family man along with others join together to save their souls.
Jon Erwin and Brent McCorkle and others write and direct this movie with a good message that at the time seemed like it was a good thing for this country and the youth of it. The problem with the movie is it starts out good and all the main characters have good storylines, but after an hour or so the film gets old and stale. And it’s only a two-hour movie. It just doesn’t sustain that runtime. Maybe a half hour less would have been better for this film.
Jesus Revolution has some good character development and a good story for about half of its running time. The cast including veterans like Grammer and newcomers like Courtney all do a good job but it’s not a story that can sustain the length it ends up being. As far as the movement within the movie goes it’s fine. I was invested in the story for fifty percent of it until it started to become old and stale. Similar to my own experience with religion in my past.
2 ½ stars
Dan Skip Allen