Jesus Revolution review by Drusilla Blakey
Growing up in a Pentecostal household, I was very aware of the stories of the 'California revival' that happened in the 70s. I was very much looking forward to this film to see the story unfold and really learn about what happened.
Inspired by a true movement, JESUS REVOLUTION tells the story of a young Greg Laurie (Joel Courtney) being raised by his alcoholic mother, Charlene (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) in the 1970s. Laurie and a sea of young people descend on sunny Southern California searching for truth. Inadvertently, Laurie meets Lonnie Frisbee (Jonathan Roumie), a charismatic hippie-street-preacher, and Pastor Chuck Smith (Kelsey Grammer) who have thrown open the doors of Smith's languishing church to a stream of wandering youth. What unfolds becomes the greatest spiritual awakening in American history. Rock and roll, newfound love, and a twist of faith lead to a JESUS REVOLUTION that turns one counterculture movement into a revival that changes the world.
This film was very eye opening for me. As a lifelong Christian, I wasn't aware how much of our church culture was influenced by this revival of the 70s. This revival sparked the surge of Vineyard churches, Calvary Chapel churches, Jews for Jesus, contemporary Christian music, and as it reached Latin America, the style of music used for our worship services (even to this day).
The main cast is simply amazing and puts forth outstanding performances that were truly moving. I found myself being emotionally touched by several scenes in the film and was even moved to tears. Kelsey Grammer
gives a great performance and to me, exemplifies the ideologies that many religions profess to have, but rarely demonstrate. The idea that church is for everyone and that all types of people are welcome was at the center of Pastor Smith's & Pastor Lonnie's message and - they lived it. Pastor Smith threw open the doors of his church and allowed everyone in. Pastor Lonnie was a very endearing character and wonderfully portrayed by Jonathan Roumie. He shows up looking like Jesus with his long hair and beard and really tries to live his life according to Jesus' teaching. At this time, he was also the one performing miracles and healings, which is a central part of what made this movement a revival.
One of the minor characters which I found intriguing was a report that is there writing and taking pictures of all that is going on. He says he is a silent observer, but as time goes by you see that even he is moved by what is happening. I think most casual watchers of the film will perhaps most identify with this character, even though he isn't around as much - but enough to make his presence known and later in the film we find out his real purpose and motive.
I also need to give a shout out to the costume, makeup and set departments. Dressing everyone in a movie set in the 70s seems like a blast, but they had to portray several distinct groups through the film. The uptight city folk, the hippies, the Christian hippies, school kids, etc. There were a lot of groups to keep up with and several locations - amazing work!
In the end, I found the film to be inspirational, moving, and enlightening. I think anyone who is interested in the history of the Christian church in the US would find this film enjoyable. It's also a great movie about equality and treating everyone with love and compassion - and this is something we could all benefit from during these trying times.
In addition to the film, this release offers up bonus content including commentary, deleted scenes, featurettes and more. Grab your copy of The Jesus Revolution when it hits digital, Blu-ray and DVD on April 25th from Lionsgate.