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Jesus Revolution Review

“Jesus Revolution” is a film that intertwines the lives of a pastor, a former hippie, and a love-struck teenager, set against the backdrop of the American Christian church in the 1960s. The movie delivers a sincere, albeit candid, narrative about faith, diverging from other Christian films by depicting believers not as faultless and devout, but as fragile, inflexible, self-righteous, egocentric, and troubled by past traumas. Ultimately, it underscores that it is Jesus Christ who embodies goodness, the true beacon that all of us, as flawed individuals, must decide to follow.

The film, directed by Brent McCorkle and Jon Erwin, transcends the typical cringe and preachiness often associated with faith-based movies. Kelsey Grammer (Frasier) portrays Chuck Smith, a pastor of a modest Southern California church. Although he is a shepherd with a devoted congregation, he is not the protagonist. Alongside Grammer is the emerging talent Jonathan Roumie from The Chosen, who takes on the role of ex-hippie Lonnie Frisbee. Chosen by God, Lonnie is the catalyst for revitalizing the rigid and formal church, turning it into a hub of the vibrant and musical Jesus Movement. Lonnie’s authenticity offers a window into the inclusive love of Jesus, yet in alignment with the film’s theme, he too is not the protagonist.

At the heart of the narrative, Greg seeks freedom from the constraints of military uniformity and cultural conservatism. His pursuit of liberation leads him to drugs and the affection of a girl who, akin to other hippies, desires a connection with the divine. Greg’s journey takes him to Chuck Smith’s church, already altered by Lonnie’s influence, where he befriends the charismatic, long-haired evangelist guided by the Holy Spirit. Yet, burdened by the care of his despondent, dependent mother, Greg grapples with his sense of belonging and, like the others, is not portrayed as a hero.

Set in the late 1960s, the film commemorates a spiritual movement that profoundly altered the American church, an influence still felt today. Not led by human charisma but by the Holy Spirit, the Jesus Revolution ignited faith in numerous youths nationwide. The movie depicts how the movement challenged the rigid, traditionalist foundations of the American church, creating an impact that seemed divinely proportioned. However, as the movement reached a historic peak, its leader, Lonnie Frisbee, lost sight of God as his source of influence and turned inward. This aspect of Lonnie Frisbee’s story was not explored in the film. Despite overlooking the historical figures’ deeper flaws, Jesus Revolution surpasses the typical expectations of Christian entertainment by presenting sufficient truth. Moreover, it highlights the Christian pursuit of righteousness, which is carefully balanced to avoid surpassing the Pharisaical standards. Humility is challenging; God’s biblical standard subtly confronts our tendency to prioritize image over a faith so faint it’s almost imperceptible to those seeking a beacon in turbulent waters.

The off-screen hero of Jesus Revolution is central to its narrative. The film’s title alludes to the one who, over 2,023 years ago, ascended to his rightful place, and whose ministry, through the Holy Spirit, captivated an entire generation in a way unparalleled in American history. With the performances of Kelsey Grammar and Jonathan Roumie, the movie achieves what few Christian films and shows have: it authentically and carefully depicts the transformation of the heart during baptism. It portrays a divine encounter that ignites a lifelong bond with the Savior, who understands our suffering and molds our hearts to resemble his own—more valuable than gold or rubies.