Faith-based drama is positive, not preachy; drug use.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Jesus Revolution is the story of Greg Laurie, the founder of Harvest Christian Fellowship. Told through the lens of the Jesus movement that swept the United States in the early 1970s, the film centers on two people who helped usher that movement in: Calvary Chapel Pastor Chuck Smith (Kelsey Grammer) and his protégé, Lonnie Frisbee (Jonathan Roumie). Greg (Joel Courtney) is depicted as an older teen who's lost and often high, embracing the counterculture mantra "turn on, tune in, drop out." Substance use is frequent, with one party scene shot to reflect Greg and his girlfriend's experience of being high. While the overall message is "don't do drugs," the point is also made not to judge those who do. But the film's greatest takeaway (among many positive messages throughout) is that the only way a divided country can heal is through love, which means opening the door to conversations with those who behave, think, or dress differently than you do. Make no mistake: This is an evangelical film. But by taking a historical outlook and having the honesty to show main characters as flawed and/or going too far, it remarkably doesn't come off as preachy!
Safe! Amazing movie about the Love of Christ!
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Best, groove movie ever!
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What's the Story?
In JESUS REVOLUTION, Calvary Chapel Pastor Chuck Smith (Kelsey Grammer) meets street preacher Lonnie Frisbee (Jonathan Roumie), who believes that America's youths are leaning into a "turn on, tune in, drop out" counterculture in their search for answers -- and God. Smith opens the doors of his conservative church to the flower children, helping to spark a spiritual awakening movement across the United States. One of those who sees the light is Greg Laurie (Joel Courtney), an older teen who's lost and often high. It's through Greg's connection with his girlfriend, Cathe (Anna Grace Barlow), that he finds Calvary Chapel and God, leading him to turn his life around.
Is It Any Good?
Part history lesson, part biopic, this faith-based drama is likely to have wide appeal, even for secular viewers. It takes place in the five years between two Time magazine cover stories: The 1966 "Is God Dead?" issue, which investigated the abandonment of religion in America, and the 1972 "The Jesus Revolution" article about hippies whose pursuit of peace and love transformed into a higher love with Christ, as they took to the streets to spread "the good news" and got baptized in droves. Adapted from Greg Laurie's same-named autobiographical novel, it begins with the point of view of the skeptical reporter writing the second article, who is astounded at how a generation of young people who disengaged from society and were considered the outcasts of American culture wound up finding fellowship with the most buttoned-up conservatives of the country. And the way the Erwin brothers (producer Andrew and writer-director Jon) -- the faith industry's dream team -- lay it out, the situation is both knock-you-over-with-a-feather surprising and makes-total-sense affirming.
This drama is almost certain to energize and inspire the Christian crowd, but it's also likely to captivate those who tend to avoid films about religion. That's both because it's very well made and because there's an honesty and accountability here. Jesus Revolution depicts real people and real things that happened. It shows us church leaders who weren't making good decisions, who were in over their heads, who had the will but not the skill, who thought too much of themselves, who were imperfect. And the filmmakers take their own community to task, showing what occurred decades ago to suggest that similar mistakes are being made in the present. But the film also suggests that similar success can happen again if we follow the Bible's No. 1 directive to "love one another." Without anyone in the film ever saying it, viewers will still get the message that the only way to heal deep cultural and political divisions is to stop judging and start loving because, yep, that's what Jesus would do.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about why the United States was in turmoil from 1966 to 1972. In what ways was the country divided at that time? How does that compare to the United States now?
Who do you consider to be role models in the movie? What character strengths do they demonstrate?
What is a Madonna-whore complex, and how does it play out in the media? Which characterizations fall into this cliché in Jesus Revolution? Why can these archetypes be damaging?
How does Jesus Revolution compare to other faith-based films you've seen? What message do you think audiences of faith will take away? What about secular viewers?
- In theaters: February 24, 2023
- Cast: Joel Courtney, Kelsey Grammer, Jonathan Roumie
- Directors: Jon Erwin, Brent McCorkle
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Book Characters, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models
- Character Strengths: Communication, Courage, Curiosity, Empathy, Humility, Teamwork
- Run time: 120 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: strong drug content involving teens and some thematic elements.
- Last updated: March 19, 2023
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