Also Pictured: Jesus (PHOTO CREDIT: Dan Anderson)

Starring: Joel Courtney, Kelsey Grammer, Jonathan Roumie, Anna Grace Barlow, Kimberly Williams-Paisley

Directors: Jon Erwin and Brent McCorkle

Running Time: 119 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for A Few Bad Trips

Release Date: February 24, 2023 (Theaters)

What’s It About?: Hey, have you heard the good news? That’s a favorite phrase of people spreading the Christian gospel, and they were doing it really enthusiastically in the 1960s and 70s, particularly in sunny Southern California. This is the vision of America that Jesus Revolution wants us to see. The Jesus movement of the era brought evangelical Christian fervor to hippies, drug users, and anyone else who was just looking for something to believe. Some of the major figures in the movement were Greg Laurie (played by Joel Courtney), who emerged from an unmoored, religion-free childhood with a single mom and multiple stepfathers; Lonnie Frisbee (played by Jonathan Roumie), who’s basically Hippie Jesus Matthew McConaughey; and Chuck Smith (Kelsey Grammer), the token traditionalist who starts to cotton to the vibes of the new generation. Will Jesus Revolution manage to convert any viewers? Let’s find out!

What Made an Impression?:  I’m not a godless heathen, as I’m still a practicing Catholic (though some Protestant sects might consider that pretty godless), but modern American Christian cinema still tends to be a little too didactic for my tastes. Co-director Jon Erwin is certainly known for his faith-based output alongside his brother Andrew in the likes of October Baby and I Can Only Imagine, as well as the Kurt Warner biopic American Underdog. This time around, he’s got a new co-director in the form of Brent McCorkle, but the religious angle is obviously still front and center. So that aspect might not be up my alley, but the time period and its corresponding soundtrack certainly are. I’ve enjoyed the convergence of Jesus and hippies before in the likes of Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar, so I was interested to see if Jesus Revolution could pull off a similar trick.

And the verdict is: eh, I liked the music, at least. (You can’t go wrong with “Jesus Is Just Alright” in this case, after all.) The main issue is that it all just feels so perfunctory. Sure, Chuck and Lonnie have differing approaches when it comes to preaching to their congregation, but it never feels like any of the conflicts can’t easily be solved with just five minutes of conversation. Meanwhile, Greg has to convince his girlfriend’s dad that he’s worthy of her, and that whole segment just made me want to scream, “Hey Dad, he’s already redeemed! Didn’t you watch the first half of this movie?!” (At least his drug-fueled escapades have an ironic Reefer Madness-esque edge to them.)

Look, I’m sure these struggles actually happened in real life, so the Jesus Revolution team obviously had to make do with the raw materials of the true accounts. But there’s a way to finesse the mundane details into something that can make your audience stand up and shout “Hallelujah!” Alas, I cannot report that I was genuinely inspired.

Jesus Revolution is Recommended If You Like: Having perfect attendance at Sunday school

Grade: 2 out of 5 Baptisms