JESUS REVOLUTION (2023)
Release Date: 02/24/23 [Cinemas]
"The true story of a national spiritual awakening in the early 1970's and its origins within a community of teenage hippies in Southern California."
OUR MOVIE REVIEW:
I’m not going to lie and say I’m a purveyor of religious cinema. My rating system for Christian films is essentially this: Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas is at the bottom, The Passion of the Christ is at the top, and all others fall somewhere in between. But I love Frasier, and it’s not often we get to see Kelsey Grammer in much of anything these days. So when I learned he stars in this dramatization of a real-life 1970s hippie Christian movement, it was groovy enough for me.
Grammer plays Chuck Smith, a Southern California pastor whose fledgling congregation is given a boost – albeit not a popular one, at first – when he welcomes hippies to worship. This act is precipitated by an encounter with a quirky street preacher named Lonnie Frisbee (Jonathan Roumie) who delicately calls out Smith’s hypocrisy for turning his nose up at the free-spirited crowd. Frisbee, along with a young, lost soul he stumbles upon named Greg (Joel Courtney) proceeds to grow Smith’s congregation at warp speed. And it’s something none of them are prepared for.
Grammer’s performance is at a career high here, and I have no doubt his real-life intense spirituality helped him channel such an authentic performance. There are glimpses throughout this (far too long) film that show how good it could have been had it not been muddied up with boring subplots which bog down the main point of the film. On the flip side, some interesting ideas get touched on, but never fully explored. One example is Smith’s hesitancy about Frisbee’s “over dramatic” (i.e. cult like) preaching style, which is mentioned a total of one time and then dropped. The movie was clearly made to be a feel-good one, with a faith-based crowd in mind. No ruffling any feathers here.
The acting is great, and Grammer delivers some truly touching moments. The story itself is actually very cool. And not for nothing, but it is the ‘70s, so the soundtrack is pretty rad. The film is also very unfocused, horribly paced, and could have been at least 30 minutes shorter. Am I a believer after watching Jesus Revolution? Not necessarily. But it wasn’t so bad that I’m denouncing the existence of a divine being altogether.