Movie Review

Joshua

Reviewed by: Charity Bishop
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
All Ages
Genre:
Christian Drama
Length:
1 hr. 31 min.
Year of Release:
2002
USA Release:
April 19, 2002
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Relevant Issues
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Church in the Bible

Christian

Goodness

Goodness of God

Faith

Who was Joshua in the Bible?

Compare the name “Jesus” and the name “Joshua.”

Jesus Christ: His Identity, Life, Death & Resurrection
JESUS CHRIST - Answers to frequently-asked-questions

Is Jesus Christ really God? Answer

TRINITY—How can one God be three persons? Answer

CHARACTER—Is Christ’s character consistent with his high claims? Answer

MIRACLES—Has science disproved the miracles associated with Jesus Christ? Answer

Could Christ have sinned? Answer


What is the Gospel?

Salvation

Sin and repentance

Are you good enough to get to Heaven? Answer

Is Jesus Christ the answer to your questions?
Discover the good news that Jesus Christ offers

Click here to watch THE HOPE on-line!
Discover God’s promise for all people—told beautifully and clearly from the beginning. Discover The HOPE! Watch it on-line, full-length motion picture.

God’s Story Online home
Do you understand God’s Story? Take a multimedia journey through the Bible, from Creation to eternity. Hear and read an exciting summary of the Bible’s most important records, in chronological order.


Roman Catholicism

THE POPE OR THE HOLY SPIRIT - Who is the true “Vicar of Christ”? Answer

Answers about RELIGION

Will all mankind eventually be saved? Answer


Interested in Christian movies? See our Christian Film News Web site.

God

God

How can we know there’s a God? Answer

What if the cosmos is all that there is? Answer

If God made everything, who made God? Answer

What does God say? Answer

Is Jesus Christ God? Answer

Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer


Learn how to be more effective in evangelism
Stumped about how to share your faith in Christ with others? Our EffectiveEvangelism.com site assists Christians in effectively reaching out to others with love and truth. Learn about the worldview of the people you meet, ways to share the gospel, read stories submitted by site users, and more.

Featuring: Tony Goldwyn (Joshua)
F. Murray Abraham (Father Tardone)
Kurt Fuller (Father Pat Hayes), Stacy Edwards (Maggie), Giancarlo Giannini (The Pope), Eddie Bo Smith Jr. (Theo), Michael Guido (Aaron), Matt Zeigler (Kevin), Colleen Camp (Joan Casey), Marc Grapey (Steve Casey—as Mark Grapey), more »
Director: Jon Purdy
Producer: Crusader Entertainment, Epiphany Films LLC, Feelmax, Howard Baldwin, Karen Baldwin, Bob Beltz, Pietro Lama, Massimiliano La Pegna, Nick Morton, Paul Pompian
Distributor: Artisan Entertainment

“On man holds the answer.”

The quiet little town of Auburn will never be the same. One cool summer evening a stranger walks into their midst carrying only a backpack and a gentle smile. This peaceful but divided town consists of several congregations mingled into a thriving metropolis… Catholic, Baptist, and Charismatic. They live in harmony but never extend a hand to their neighbors. And the crown atop this glittering existence is Father Tardone, a strict man of convictions and beliefs, who keeps a tight reign on his associate priest, Father Pat.

Joshua moves into a dilapidated old barn on the outside of town and begins to make changes. In addition to befriending a hurting widow, a troubled teenager, a stuttering would-be pastor, and a confused Priest, he begins to rebuild the burned-out Baptist church building… and slowly everyone becomes involved, from Catholics to Protestants and Jews. Father Tardone, learning that he is a master of wood carving, asks him to sculpt a statue of Saint Peter for the church but soon realizes that this important task has been shelved for what Joshua considers more important duties…

He appears with Pat at a charismatic youth service, teaches a hurting housewife how to cook, helps a teen learn electric guitar, and has a long talk with a congregational member… all at the same time. Then one day it all comes to a head when Joshua comes across a “Revival” meeting that involves healing by faith. When he walks into the tent, no miracles have yet been proven. But when he leaves, a blind girl has been given the gift of sight. It becomes a hot topic all over town, enthralling most of Joshua’s friends and followers… and concerning Father Tardone.

Is Joshua what he seems? The priest begins to reflect on the “miracles” that have begun happening all over town and is drawing a horrifying parallel. This stranger must be stopped, before he destroys the faith of the prisoners, the town, and the church. This sounds familiar, right? A charismatic man that people follow without question, who heals broken hearts, the blind, and can raise the dead. He also plays a mean game of pool and has a lot of wisdom to share, particularly the message that whatever you’ve done, God loves you anyway.

“Joshua” is a deeply touching story with many venues for both discussion and thought. So much happens in the two hours’ time that you spend on this film that you almost regret leaving the theater. If I could have, I would have turned around and gone right back in to the next showing. The film touches on many fronts… the Catholic church, a Baptist congregation, a charismatic service, even a rock-concert-turned-church service with guest stars Third Day. The music rocks (with an original score by Michael W. Smith, it should!), The storyline is good, and the acting starts out a bit shaky but improves with the full performances of F. Murray Abraham, Tony Goldwyn, and Kurt Fuller.

From the little town of Auburn to the Vatican in Rome, Joshua proves that whenever Jesus touches a life, it becomes dramatically altered. Town quibbles are put aside. A grieving widow learns that she lived for a reason. A hurting housewife discovers that wounds can be healed… and Father Pat and Tardone are each challenged in their own ways to evaluate their faith and system of beliefs. In the meantime, there are humorous sidelines, memorable moments, and life-altering instances of compassion, belief, and miracles. This film proves that you can more than just make a G-rated movie for adults; you can make a thought-provoking and enthralling film for any age. I saw children in the theater in addition to grandparents, teenagers, and a few couples.

Many reviewers have slammed “Joshua,” saying that the gospel message is nonexistent. This is complete bunk. It’s there again, and again, and again. The writers chose not to spell it out, but to show it through the miracles that he performs. He takes a shattered existence, and makes it beautiful. He takes a blind girl and makes her see. He raises a man from death. And perhaps the most profound message of all: he begins the work… and others finish it. Jesus did not come here to do our work for us. We have a responsibility to see it done ourselves.

This movie may not be perfect. It may not have the special effects or thrills of “Spider-Man” or the cinematic faces of Angelina Jolie or Tom Hanks. But it’s a profoundly good movie with a knock-out message that any Christian… or any seeker… should see. Load up the van, take your friends, and catch the web-weaver *next* weekend. “Joshua” won’t be around long at the box office; let’s make him feel welcome.

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—I read the book Joshua years ago and was touched by it. It is a fictional account of what it might be like if Jesus (Joshua) quietly appeared in a small modern town. It’s a parable for today. Upon seeing the movie ads, I was skeptical at first, wondering how “Hollywood” would change/distort the message of the book. My response after seeing the movie? Overall, this was an awesome adaptation the book! Many of the messages/lessons in the movie are subtle (don’t miss them!), but that is precisely what makes the movie so powerful and profound! This movie could be a great discussion starter (on a variety of spiritual issues!!) for talking with unsaved friends or the “religious but lost.” For example, the one priest in the movie had all the outward signs of religion, but had no personal relationship with Christ. His heart was cold. Then Joshua (Jesus) touched him and his life changed. Regarding one reviewer who did not like the Roman Catholic aspects of this movie… I also have strong, similar feeling…
My Ratings: [Good / 5]
—Laura Martin, age 31
Positive—Joshua portrayed a modern day Jesus by working with hands and bringing a community of all denominations together. With unconditional love, honesty, encouragement and unselfishness. Joshua was an excellent film for all. An excellent character with values to look up to.
My Ratings: [Better than Excellent! / 5]
—Andy, age 41
Positive—Excellent film. Made me a better man than when I entered the theater. Christ does that a lot.
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Bo Machado MD, age 41
Positive—The movie “Joshua” was wonderful. It had a few flaws, as most movies do, and it is pure fiction as far as Jesus coming to visit us in the form of a human man in our day, but the message of the film is absolutely excellent. I would recommend it to anyone of any age group. My older sister wants to purchase the film when it comes out on video. I wouldn’t mind even showing it to our congregation, (I am a Pastor). The message was very simple, but powerful, that relationship with, and love for God and one another is what is needed in the church, and that God isn’t waiting to hammer everyone for all of their short comings, but desires to touch his people deeply, and to unite us.
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Tim Wiebe, age 38
Positive—In reading over some of the prior complaints, I have to disagree with those that claim the film is misleading and/or favorable to the Catholic church. “Joshua” is not an “allegory.” It is not a literal film, but a figurative one. It is not the second coming of Christ. It is an idea of what Jesus might be like if he came today. Thus said, it is a good production with many moral lessons. I didn’t see any favoritism toward the Roman Catholic Church. (If you ask me, Joshua was rather hard on them.) In fact, the Roman Catholic religion was portrayed as being stiff and “religious,” without being godly. Father Tardone actually repented of this when confronted by Joshua. He was respectful to each Christian denomination, but did not put his stamp of approval on any of them. (The truth is, if you have repented and claimed Jesus Christ as your savior, you can belong to any denomination and still be saved.) I loved it. I’m going to buy it when it comes out, and encourage anyone with an open mind to see it.
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 4½]
—Scarlett Powell, age 18
Positive—My son and I very much enjoyed Joshua. It was realistic and had a good story line. I would highly recommend it for anyone looking for a good enjoyable moral film.
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Larry, age 56
Positive—After seeing this movie, I called my son (19) and asked him to go and see it with me. After we watched it, he thanked me for encouraging him to go and said it was a blessing. We both thought the acting and the script were excellent. However, we were very disappointed to see so few people in the theater. This movie isn’t going to make it at the box office if people don’t hurry and give it a chance. I don’t understand why more Christians don’t support G-rated movies—they are worth trying, especially if they are filled with good messages. This movie was a great example of what Christ wants people to know—that He loves them and that loving each other is really only possible as they open their hearts to Him. It is my desire to see the Christian movie industry do what the Christian music industry has done. They are increasing their skills in this area, but they need our help to do it. Let’s continue to give them that chance.
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 4½]
—Dorothy, age 43
Positive—After seeing this movie on its opening night, it was several days later I found myself still reliving what I hard seen. What if Jesus does come back in human form, unannounced and walking among us. I found this movie to be a very moving and inspirational experience. It is not a mega-Hollywood production by no means, but a movie that does not need FLASH it get its message across. In fact, I enjoyed it that I am taking my 9th and 10th grade boys Sunday School class to see it on Friday. It has a message that I want them to feel and understand. I give this movie 4 stars and highly recommend it, especially if you profess to be a Christian.
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 4]
—Tim Coats, age 47
Positive—I went to this movie not sure what to expect. I had heard of the “Joshua” books that were popular (15?) years ago. But a “type” (example) of Jesus in a relatively modern day setting… I wasn’t sure… Then the lead actor who played Joshua has played some pretty rogue characters in a couple major movies in the past so I wasn’t sure he was the correct choice for the part either. However, my concerns were quelled when I saw the movie. Fantastic! I loved it! A simple but impacting message throughout… God’s love, character and provision and the effect on everyone that comes in contact with or reaches out for Him. I loved this movie all the way up to the very end! I loved the setting in the small scenic town with simple but well represented and diversified characters. Joshua had a quiet, but amazing spirit about him. He never drew attention or glory to himself. He made a positive impact wherever he went. And he went to common places and did common things… was hard working… This movie is hard to explain. [See it]
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Brenda Curtiss, age 44
Positive—I am a very picky person when it comes to films, and I loved Joshua! What a great film for Christians and non-Christians alike. I highly recommend this film to older children—adults. It is refreshing to see a Christian film NOT based on the end times.
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Anon.
Positive—Fantastic Christian movie! Great for the kids also!
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Mark, age 49
Positive—I grew up in strict Baptist/Pentecostal. All the mistakes I and anyone else made in life were brought up to mean we were outcasts-even if we got saved and came into the church again… we were branded in the hearts of those around us. I would like to think that the only difference between us and Jesus is that he was the Son, and He DID shed the Blood for us because HE LOVED US… I have known a lot of times I thought it was love… but I have never really felt loved. This movie made me cry… I don’t cry easily. It made me feel Jesus’ touch and his love. It made me almost think I had his forgiveness and love…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Gayle, age 63 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—Yes, Joshua is a movie where you will laugh, as well as ponder (asking yourself, “Just who is this Joshua?”)…until the very end! At least that is what I did.

There are several controversial issues addressed, i.e. the Catholic Church and “Faith Healing” meetings. However, there are 2 issues that concern me (I’m a mother of 5 children—the 2 oldest are boys “going through puberty”).

1. While the movie does not contain any curse words, there is a scene where Joshua says, “That sucks.” I asked myself, “Would Jesus say this?”

2. Regarding the character “Maggie”—her breasts “tell us her body temperature” (that she is cold) in the majority of her scenes.

These scenes were very uncomfortable for me as well as my 2 girlfriends. This comment was made by one of them, “If I were that actress, I would have to have taken a lot of re-shoots.” In my opinion a Christian movie should be above reproach. In these 2 situations mentioned above—they could have been avoided… Yes, this movie is “clean” by today’s standards, yes, these are “small” issues by today’s standards, but is it clean according to Jesus’ standard?
—Beryl Hartwig, age 44
Negative
Negative—I had not read any reviews of this movie and had no idea what it was about. I decided to go see it with some friends. I was very into this movie until about half way through when the symbolism became evident to the life of Christ. I’m not sure what the film was trying to do. If it was just trying to entertain, then it did its job (like an episode of “Highway to Heaven”). If it was trying to get a higher message across, I think it was extremely misleading. Everything was great until the main character started to talk as he was “the One” and until another character called him “Lord.” This could be very confusing for a non-believer. The Bible prophesies the Second Coming of Christ, and this is not how it goes down. In my book, this guy would be a false prophet that the Bible warns us about. Maybe the old Catholic Priest in the movie was right, until he was mislead, also.
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—B. Miller, age 26
Negative—First off, I applaud the makers of the movie for trying to produce a Christian film that attempts to follow an interesting premise (“What if Jesus showed up in a little town today?”). From that perspective, I enjoyed the storyline and the characters.

But… as I type this, I am staring at the Viewer Comments recommendation from Christian Answers that says, “Remember—please base your comments on a biblical, Christian worldview.” So… from that request, this movie made me physically ill. Not only did the “Jesus” character, while playing pool with a local priest, say “You suck at pool,” but he actually affirms that the false Gospel taught by Roman Catholicism is “on track.” Evangelicals who place their faith in Jesus Christ alone will be disgusted that the Jesus character travels to Rome and basically tells the Pope, “You are doing a good job, keep it up, and keep the message simple.”

The only way this movie could have been worse, is if the Jesus character had travelled to Salt Lake City and affirmed that the Mormon church also teaches the true Gospel. If you want to see how dim the light has gotten with preserving the True Gospel and how bright the ecumenical “gathering all faiths together” Gospel has gotten—then this film is for you.

I am a Sunday School teacher, and even though I just taught about the False Gospels—I couldn’t recommend this film to my class. Bottom line: if you agree with Roman Catholicism, then you will love this movie—otherwise, if you recognize Rome spreads a false gospel, then this movie will deeply sadden your heart.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3]
—Stan Weber, age 47
Negative***SPOILERS throughout*** …I was expecting a movie with a rapture-like theme, without so much expecting it to be true to the Gospel as I would a sermon, but it was very far from that. In fact, I was beginning to like the movie until the half of it when it started getting “New Agey,” and it was hard to bear from this point on. The Catholic priest started to ask Joshua what he thought about fearing God and His law, and the Jesus-like character makes a face and starts talking about that love-mumbojumbo that New Age people love to boast about, so this was the start of it all. Then you start to see that whole thing is a reenactment of the Gospel, but in modern times, so it has nothing to do whatsoever with the Second Coming of Christ, rather it is a false prophet coming oriented type of movie disguised as a story about a Jesus.

How disappointed I was when Joshua goes to Rome and tells the Pope that he just has to give the message: “Tell them I love them” …Give…Me…A…Break! …Not one time you hear the word repent in the movie! Not one. Nor do you ever hear Joshua talking about belief in him, or salvation, for that matter, what a hoax of a movie I’d say.

Don’t get me wrong, I happen to know about the love of Jesus, His unconditional and merciful love. But this movie only flourishes in portraying the deceiving, misleading and cheating love of Satan. I would never recommend this movie, except to show how Satan has got his puppets strings bouncing in so many places.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Victor Bireaud, age 22 (France)
Comments from young people
Positive—I was sceptical at first—“A real quality Christian movie? I don’t know.” But I went to see “Joshua” with my family last weekend and I loved it! Most Christian movies I’ve seen were a disgrace to the entertainment industry, but this one is worth your time and your money. Christians need to support this movie so filmmakers will see that people WILL watch a Christian movie and produce more. Good acting, good story. It’s mostly drama but there is some comedy in it.
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 4½]
—Pam, age 15
Positive—“Joshua” is a movie about what might happen is if Jesus came to our home town (it is set in a small town) Joshua comes to Auburn a small town in the USA. It may seam he came for no reason, but there is a reason.He came to help those in need of healing, in need of understanding, in need of love, and in need of hope. He healed a blind girl who had a lot faith. He also gave life to a new friend who fell form a 40 high roof while hanging a bell at a church Joshua helped rebuild. Joshua brought a town of those who did not get along to gather and made them in to a community. I have read the book and found both the movie and the book very good, if you are looking for a movie with very few to no bad words this is a movie you should see. but please read the book first.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Sheay, age 14 (USA)
Positive—I’m young, but smart. “Joshua” was such a great touching movie. I really enjoyed it. I thank my teacher for allowing me and my class to watch that movie. It really made me think. I would watch it a second time if I could. I’ve heard about the book and am very interested in reading it. This movie was soo… REAL!! I enjoyed it and reccomend it to all.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Jayde, age 12 (USA)