The Jesus Rolls
review by Bobby Blakey
In 1998 the Cohen Brothers hit the lanes with their hit film The Big Lebowski. Filled with a great cast of characters including Jesus Quintana played to perfection by John Turturro. Now he is stepping back into the role once again in The Jesus Rolls co-starring Bobby Cannavale, Audrey Tautou, Christopher Walken, Jon Hamm, Pete Davidson, and Susan Sarandon. Could this spin-off to the iconic comedy live up to its predecessor or will it fail to pick up the spare?
The Jesus Rolls follows Jesus Quintana who reunites with his best friend and fellow underachiever Petey hours after being released from prison for good behavior. In the first in a series of rapidly escalating bad decisions, they steal a vintage car parked in front of an upscale salon and hit the road for a no-holds-barred joyride — until the car’s gun-toting owner catches up with them, wounding Petey. Fleeing the scene with fiercely free-spirited shampooist Marie, Jesus and Petey continue their adventure in a series of stolen cars, cementing their partnership with an epic petty-crime spree and a three-way romance.
It is always interesting to me when a character gets spun off into its own thing. It says a lot for the performance of Turturro who had a very small part as Jesus, but stood out as one of the most memorable performances. While this isn’t an “official” sequel to Lebowski, Turturro did get the blessing from the Cohens to use the character and he clearly had the passion to bring together a film that offers up a similar strangeness while being its own thing in a great way. There is a recreation of the incident that Goodman references in Lebowski, but outside of that and the character itself this is its own animal and that works just fine.
Turturro steps right back into this role like he never left and has crafted a film that too me is very different but just as good as its source material. He not only brings Jesus back to life perfectly, but has brought together an excellent cast that all bring something fun and special to the mix. I honestly didn’t think this film would work, but it does on pretty much every level. Some of them kind of come and go pretty quickly, but all of them stand out
and bring the whole thing together. Once we get through the initial set up the film turns into a road trip with Jesus and his best pale Petey getting in all kinds of wacky situations including a chance to showcase their stuff at the bowling alley.
The Big Lebowski is one of those films that doesn’t need a sequel of any kind, but the character of Jesus deserves his showcase front and center. John Turturro once again not only showcases his acting skills with his most iconic character brought back to life, but also his great skills behind the camera as well in the directors seat. If you are a fan of Lebowski and who isn’t then this is a film you have to see. If you haven’t seen it this film still stands all on its own as an entertaining unique film. Let Jesus take the wheel and grab your copy of The Jesus Rolls available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Screen Media.