The film Jesus Revolution has outperformed Hollywood expectations at the box office, and movie audiences are giving the film high ratings.
As Focus on the Family’s Plugged In reported:
Those who buy the tickets loved the film (as did Plugged In). Jesus Revolution is thus far registering a 99% ‘freshness’ rating from audiences on Rotten Tomatoes and an A+ mark from CinemaScore.
The movie has several story lines; one follows Chuck Smith, played by Kelsey Grammar, a struggling pastor in Costa Mesa in 1970. Smith opens his church, Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, in Southern California, to young people from the “counterculture movement” of that era, including a charismatic, Spirit-filled hippie – Lonnie Frisbee, played by The Chosen’s Jonathan Roumie.
Their lives intersect with a young Greg Laurie (Joel Courtney) and his girlfriend Cathe Martin (Anna Grace Barlow), and they all become swept up in the Jesus Movement. The Calvary Chapel Association has now grown from Smith’s small church to more than 1,800 fellowships around the world.
Greg Laura has pastored Harvest Christian Fellowship, in Riverside, California, for 50 years and has preached the gospel to millions at Harvest Crusades. Laurie recently told Fox News:
I hope my story can inspire young people in difficult circumstances to know that God can intervene in their life and change their story.
The Daily Citizen spoke with Plugged In Director Adam Holz about the film. Here’s the second part of that interview, where we discussed the quality of the film, what we can learn from it, who should see the movie and some discussion points for families.
You can read part one, here.
Daily Citizen: Plugged In rates films on issues that might concern parents – sex, violence, substance abuse, language, spiritual content – but rarely do you rate the overall quality of a film. Christian films can have a reputation for being preachy and not quite up to Hollywood filmmaking quality. How do you rate Jesus Revolution in terms of the story, filmmaking, entertainment and overall quality? Is it preachy – like watching a sermon, or is it a good film?
Adam Holz: I think it’s among the best Christian movies I’ve seen; it’s a film with very high production values. Codirector Jon Erwin knows how to tell a story that’s faith-focused, and yet one that also has the ability to connect with viewers who aren’t necessarily in the evangelical fold.
I think this film, more than many Christian films, has the ability to tell a story that could potentially draw in viewers who otherwise haven’t given Christianity much of a chance. It’s not preachy, it doesn’t feel like a sermon, and it’s a genuinely well-made film about a hugely important moment in our country’s history.
DC: Do you have any takeaways from the film about what we can learn about God and ourselves?
Holz: Perhaps the biggest is how easily we can become hardened and judgmental, even as we try to be effective ambassadors for the Gospel. It’s so easy—it’s very naturally, actually—to get set in our ways and to be unable to see how God is at work in people whose lives and experiences are very different than our own.
I think this story reminds us of that and challenges us to be humble, to be receptive and to look for opportunities to love and accept people whom we might otherwise be tempted to judge or exclude in some way.
DC: Should families see Jesus Revolution together? What age is it appropriate for? And do you have any suggestions for discussion points for parents?
Holz: I think families with mature tweens and teens could and perhaps should see it together. The movie is rated PG-13 primarily due to references to LSD use, an important piece of the countercultural movement in that season.
The movie doesn’t glorify drug use or really show it directly, but we certainly have a couple of scenes where multiple people are under the influence. In that sense, the filmmakers have sought to tell a true story about that time that doesn’t completely sanitize those elements, nor does it focus on them gratuitously or glorify them.
As for discussion points or questions, I think parents could talk with their children about these questions:
- What did some of the characters turn to in their attempts to fill themselves and find real meaning in life? How did those various approaches work?
- What do we choose in order to fill that vacant space inside? How are those things (and perhaps screens in particular) similar to or different from the things we see in this movie?
- What are some of the barriers that keep us from trusting God fully? What are some of the hurdles we see in this film, and how do we see similar things in our own lives?
- Do you think it’s easy to trust God to fill that empty spot, what French philosopher and theologian Blaise Pascal called a “God-shaped vacuum” in our hearts? Why or why not?
- Why do you think that the counterculture movement often blended drug use and sexually promiscuous behavior? What, if anything, do you think is the connection between those two behaviors?
- What issues do you think make it hard or challenging to follow God today?
- How does this story encourage you in your own faith journey?
DC: Any other thoughts about the movie you’d like to share?
Holz: I think Jesus Revolution is among the best faith-oriented films I’ve seen.
It’s not cheesy or preachy, and the characters here all have flaws that make them relatable. None of them are squeaky-clean “saints” who’ve never struggled or whose faith magically makes everything work.
Instead, we see people with real flaws and issues who meet Jesus and begin to experience his healing power. They’re able to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8, ESV), even though life sometimes has difficult moments and rough edges to endure.
I think this film will encourage Christians, especially, to hang on to their faith and to tell others about Jesus.
Related articles and resources:
Plugged In Review: ‘Jesus Revolution’
The Plugged In Show, Episode 170: A Look at the ‘Jesus Revolution’
Plugged In Talks to the Jesus Revolution Cast and Directors
Movie Monday: ‘Ant-Man’ Wins Second Straight Weekend, ‘Jesus Revolution’ Overperforms
Calvary Chapel and Asbury University Chapel: Revival and Revolution Decades Apart
From Pompous Psychologist to Pastor Chuck Smith – the Many Roles of Kelsey Grammer
‘Jesus Revolution’ Exceeds Box Office Expectations – Plugged In Tells More About the Film
Photo from Jesus Revolution.