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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Human beings are flawed, try hard, and make mistakes. If you're doing what you love, everything else can be secondary. Messages of faith. Addresses sometimes-mature topics like substance use/abuse and divorce.
Positive Role Models
There are so many interviewees that no one in particular emerges as an individual role model, but overall, they seem kind and positive, with a belief in their music and message, rather than an obsession with fame or money.
The majority of the interviewees here are White men, but there are some women -- notably Amy Grant -- and some Black performers, notably Kirk Franklin, who had a huge hit with "Stomp." All are shown as successsful/in a mostly positive light.
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Violence & Scariness
Interviewee mentions a verbal threat: "We'll hang you."
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Interviewees mention sex. One talks about searching for the "perfect lay."
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Use of "hell."
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Products & Purchases
You could argue that the featured performers are all promoting their own work/brands.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Interviewees talk about alcohol and drugs. LSD, whiskey, and needles are mentioned. One musician is described as an alcoholic.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Jesus Music is a documentary about the rise of the genre known as Contemporary Christian Music, from the "hippie" days of the late 1960s and early '70s, to the multi-billion dollar industry it developed into decades later. The film is geared more toward fans who will recognize all of the genre's stars -- including Larry Norman, Stryper, Amy Grant, TobyMac, and Kirk Franklin -- than it is to newcomers. And it doesn't ask any really tough questions (especially about the church's uneasy relationship with this music), but it's well-made and interesting. Interviewees make references to drug and alcohol use/abuse and mention LSD, whiskey, needles, and alcohol dependency. Sex is also discussed; one interviewee talks about searching for the "perfect lay." An interviewee references a verbal threat ("we'll hang you"), and "hell" is used once or twice. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Despite some flaws -- it's mainly made for those already in the CCM fan club, and it has a distinct shortage of actual music -- this documentary is still well-researched and professionally made. But any outsiders who are curious about the genre and interested in a basic course may have to look elsewhere, because The Jesus Music introduces each of its acts as if no introduction were necessary. Moreover, the samples of their music are frustratingly short, and it's hard to get a handle on just what makes the performers different from one another (aside from, say, Stryper's long-hair heavy-metal sound and Amy Grant's radio-friendly pop). Newcomers are sure to be lost from time to time. For example, an important early compilation album that kick-started the movement is given cursory treatment here, as if its significance was already common knowledge.
On the plus side, the interviewees are all cheerful, interesting folks, and eventually their stories start to come together. Grant, for example, is very open about her controversial 1999 divorce and the toll it took on her life and career. There seems to be a great deal of trust here. But the most interesting aspect of The Jesus Music is that, despite singing the praises of the Lord, the performers are all, or have been at some point, outsiders from the church itself, which routinely disapproved of their music. The irony of the church's intolerance seems to have been lost on the filmmakers, but this outsider quality nonetheless makes the interviewees more appealing. Perhaps some other movie someday can provide more background information for newcomers, but, for CCM fans, The Jesus Music should be heavenly.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.