7/10 The true story of pastor Chuck Smith (Kelsey Grammer), youth minister Greg Laurie (Joel Courtney), Christian hippie Lonnie Frisbee (Jonathan Roumie) and the Jesus movement in the late 1960s that started in California but spread throughout America. “Jesus Revolution” is largely successful, despite trying to cover a little bit too much ground. While most Christian films are low budget and incredibly cheesy, it is encouraging to see films like this that, while not perfect, are miles ahead of similar faith based fare. Co-directed by Jon Erwin (of the Erwin Brothers), his previous film was the underrated and inspiring “American Underdog” about Kurt Warner and Erwin keeps his winning streak alive here. With a $15 million budget and distribution from a major Hollywood studio (Lionsgate), the film looks better than 99% of other religious films. A lot of the cheesy cringe factor is taken away when your film looks professional, as “Jesus Revolution” does. Most of the acting is solid across the board, the production design and costume design expertly recreated the late 1960s era and the film has a ton of heart to it, making me shed more tears than I had expected to. The tone and vibe of the film is right in line with the hippie, anti-war, musical elements that you would expect from the era. As someone who wasn’t familiar with the specifics of this story or the people involved, I found the film to be educational in an entertaining way. I have relatives who were a part of the Jesus movement in CA when this was happening, which gave the film an extra layer for me. The timing of the film also couldn’t be better seeing as how just like the hippies of the 1960s, many of the youth and adults of today are looking for a higher calling and using sex, drugs, alcohol, addictions, the internet, social media clout, etc. to fill their voids. Hippies were sick of what their government was doing, particularly when it came to Vietnam and preached peace and love but unfortunately turned to drugs to solve their problems, which of course didn’t work. Many today have the exact same problems and are unfortunately attempting some of the same failed solutions (plus some new ones), with the same, empty results. With Kentucky’s Asbury University (a Christian college) recently having a total of 15,000 people worshipping nonstop from February 8th to the 24th, the timing couldn’t be better. As for what didn’t work in the film, despite a catchy soundtrack, the music was a little too on the nose with certain selections and the score was forgettable/overshadowed by the soundtrack. A couple of more minor actors aren’t going to win any Academy Awards and a few of the lines verged on corny. Complaints aside, overall this is a strong film that humanizes pastors and ministers. Too many times people think that leaders across any religion are near perfect or don’t struggle with temptation or other struggles due to their status, but this film highlights their struggles and some of the unfortunate infighting that happens when ego gets involved with doing God’s work. With the terrific box office numbers, “Jesus Revolution” continues to prove that there is a large audience for well made, faith based films and with talent like the Erwin Brother(s), this is a revolution I can definitely get behind.
#LiftUpYourHeadsOLionsgate / #SendInTheCavalryChapel / #ACinderellaLaurie / #PeaceOfMind / #HittingRockBellBottom / #ChuckDownSatan

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