Jesus Revolution (2023)

Jesus Revolution (2023)

There’s nothing radical or exciting about this oversimple faith-based film

5.0

Movie

United States of America
English
Drama, History
2023
BRENT MCCORKLE, JON ERWIN
Alexia Ioannides, Anna Grace Barlow, Billy Graham
120 min

TLDR

It’s a Christianity recruitment ad dressed in cinematic clothing.

What it's about

The film follows Greg Laurie (Joel Courtney) as he finds his way from the hippie revolution into the “Jesus movement” that erupted in Southern California in the 1960s.

The take

Based on the autobiography of real-life evangelical pastor Greg Laurie, Jesus Revolution recounts how a Christian movement in the '60s turned lost hippies into dedicated Christians. It was an interesting moment in time, but instead of delving into the movement's peculiarities and intricacies, Jesus Revolution offers a myopic tale that paints Laurie as a hero and the movement as inspirational when, really, they are anything but. Laurie's story never feels significant enough to justify a feature film and the movement never seems as radical as the film thinks it to be. And even though it’s autobiographical, it never really digs into Laurie's spirituality and interiority deep enough to reveal complex truths. In fact, everyone’s a caricature in this simplistic film that feels more like propaganda as it paints religion as perfect and all-saving while glossing over its many imperfections and questionable rhetoric. It could have worked as commentary, satire, or maybe even a sincere memoir, but as it is, it just feels like a short-sighted attempt at telling history.

What stands out

The film is lucky to have Kelsey Grammer (Cheers, Fraiser) on board. Grammer plays Chuck Smith, the wary-pastor-turned-believer, and he is hands down the best part of the film. I often wish it was just about him. His gravitas grounds the story, especially during its more heightened moments. If anything, Jesus Revolution made me want to see more of Grammer in different productions.

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