Based on the autobiographical book of the same name co-written by Greg Laurie, the film follows Laurie (Joel Courtney), Christian hippie Lonnie Frisbee (Jonathan Roumie), and pastor Chuck Smith(Kelsey Grammer) as they take part in the Jesus movement in California during the late 1960s.
Jesus Revolution is a mostly faithful depiction of the Jesus People movement that dominated and eventually subsumed the hippie movement of the 1970’s. It’s Legacy is pretty mixed. It originated the Christian rock genre. It’s charismatic Pentecostal focus formed evangelical movements both on the left and right. Both became influential in politics with the right becoming a force in electing some Republican presidents from Reagan to Trump. The left had a big hand in the election of Jimmy Carter, and Barack Obama.
The film is informally Greg Laurie’s story, one of the movement’s most important pastor who wrote the title book.
Jesus Revolution whitewashes the nastier elements of Lonnie Frisbee’s personality, mainly his predatory homosexuality. His rampant egotism, lust for power are used as examples of sins that can befall even the best intentioned prophet. His schism from Chuck Smith is shown as a theological difference of opinion and not as the homophobia it truly was.
In contrast, Chuck Smith’s is elevated to sainthood. His influence on the nastier issues of the political right (homophobia, theophobia, xenophobia) are never referenced. This movie is about the saintly handoff. The legacy beyond cribbed after captions is left for the more curious truth seeker to discover.
The acting of the main cast gives it sincerity and the sheen of semi-authenticity. It allows Jesus Revolution to be forgiven for lapsing into some groaning Christian movie cliches and plot devices.
Yes, there is a Charles Manson moment for Frisbee, a quasi Jesus substitute for most of the film, that thankfully is just a creepy historic echo that never turns murderous. It’s maybe a slap by the right leaning Laurie at the other, more accepting, left leaning, brethren- a sly cautionary tale for those thinking of straying.
Jesus Revolution gets a 3.5 out of 5 or a B+. It’s streaming on Netflix.
- Jon Erwin
- Brent McCorkle
- Jon Gunn
- Jon Erwin
by Greg Laurie
Ellen Santilli Vaughn
- Kevin Downes
- Jon Erwin
- Andrew Erwin
- Daryl Lefever
- Josh Walsh
- Jerilyn Esquibel
- Katelyn Botsch
- Bekah Hubbell
- February 15, 2023(TCL Chinese Theatre)
- February 24, 2023(United States)