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Movie Review

The Resurrection of Gavin Stone

MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements including a crucifixion image.

Reviewed by: Veronica Garnett—first time reviewer

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Family Teens Adults
Christian Family Comedy Romance Drama
1 hr. 32 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
January 20, 2017 (wide—887 theaters)
DVD: May 2, 2017
Copyright, BH Tilt, High Top Releasing click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, BH Tilt, High Top Releasing Copyright, BH Tilt, High Top Releasing Copyright, BH Tilt, High Top Releasing Copyright, BH Tilt, High Top Releasing Copyright, BH Tilt, High Top Releasing Copyright, BH Tilt, High Top Releasing Copyright, BH Tilt, High Top Releasing Copyright, BH Tilt, High Top Releasing Copyright, BH Tilt, High Top Releasing
Relevant Issues
Copyright, BH Tilt, High Top Releasing

people who pretend to be followers of Christ

discovering what is truly important in life

CELEBRITIES’ VIEWS—What do “Hollywood” celebrities believe about spiritual issues? Find out

HOLLYWOOD DISCONNECT—Why is there a disconnect between “Hollywood” and the rest of America? Answer

CHANGE HOLLYWOOD—What is being done to change the values of “Hollywood”? Answer

Featuring: Brett Dalton … Gavin Stone
Anjelah Johnson-Reyes … Kelly Richardson
Shawn Michaels … Doug
Neil Flynn … Waylon Stone
D.B. Sweeney … Pastor Allen Richardson
Tim Frank … John Mark
Christopher Maleki … Mike Meara
Liam Matthews … Charles
Kirk B.R. Woller … Jack Roth
Director: Dallas Jenkins—“What If…” (2010), “Hometown Legend” (2002), “Once We Were Slaves” (2014), “Midnight Clear” (2006)
Producer: Pure Publicity
WWE Studios
more »
Distributor: BH Tilt
High Top Releasing

“If church can change him, it will be a miracle.”

“The Resurrection of Gavin Stone” is an absolute must see! I am already looking forward to seeing it again, as I write this review. If you are already a Christian, you will appreciate many humorous scenes, and you will find yourself smiling and laughing. Gavin (Brett Dalton—who played Grant Ward on the “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” TV series) is a struggling and out of work actor with some bad boy behavior. He finds himself having to do 200 hours of community service at a church in his hometown.

He isn’t exactly the church going type. One scene in particular is prior to Gavin being allowed to audition for the role of Jesus; he has to share his testimony, which is very funny, because he doesn’t have one and has to wing it. Having an audition scene within a movie can be awkward, but this is done brilliantly and with humor. The “talent” are the members of the congregation who cannot act, and it’s quite obvious.

Gavin is quickly accepted into the group by three guys who portray Christian outreach by inviting him to hang out with them and have a pizza. They share info with him about the play’s director and pastor’s daughter (Anjelah Johnson-Reyes). Gavin decides he must learn some Christian etiquette to impress her, so he shows up at Sunday service dressed as a “christian” in what he perceives is the right outfit for church and proceeds to greet everyone saying “blessings,” which comes off funny.

The movie continues to come together very nicely with a friendship developing between Gavin and and the cast, until he hears from his Hollywood agent, letting him know that he has to return to Los Angeles for a TV show that shoots immediately.

There will be tears in the ending scenes of this movie, because it is emotionally powerful and truly moving. This is a must see for everyone, as it will have a lasting impact on your life.

Violence: Minor / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: Mild

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• Official church resources for this film:

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

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—This was a fun movie! It’s one the kids could have come to see, and my 11 year old wanted to, but my husband and I made it a date night. This film poked fun, in a good fun, clean, relatable way, at the church. The nerdy church goer, who you end up loving, the uptight, proper church goer, the language we use that the non Christian doesn’t understand and the stereotypes people have about church who don’t regularly attend. But it calls us to not change the person—let God do that. Just invite them in and love them.

It had me and my husband laughing, some of the behaviors of Gavin, as he tries to fit in, are laugh-out-loud funny and awkward (but no one says a word, they share a few glances, but never put him down). At the same time, it made me cry. I pretended I just had an itch, right near my eye, over and over. I recommend it. My husband isn’t sold on just any Christian movie but we both liked it. I’ll definately buy it when it comes to DVD.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Andrea, age 44 (USA)
Positive—Enjoyable, well done. Some interesting twists in the various characters faith journeys. Plenty of laugh out loud moments, as well as thoughtful and thought provoking scenes and dialogue. Recommend it. Glad we went to see this film instead of “Silence.”
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Tori, age 40+ (USA)
Positive—This movie is excellent, and it had many funny moments. In a nutshell, the former boy movie star has to do public service at a church, and ends up helping them with their passion play. Great for all ages, although teens and adults will enjoy it more. Easy to follow and guess the end, but it’s a roller coaster getting there. Would be a GREAT movie for a church to see.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Dennis, age 63 (USA)
Positive—This is a great movie! We really enjoyed it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Norris Miller, age 85 (USA)

PLEASE share your observations and insights to be posted here.

Movie Critics

…a sunny, positive portrayal… It’s much lighter than most faith-based films, and it isn’t afraid to poke some fun at cultural stereotypes, including its own. …[2/4]
—Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service

…it ultimately delivers many laughs without a lot of the preachy or cheesy moments one might find in other independent, faith-based movies. It’s good, clean fun with a terrific, inspiring message that many audiences will enjoy.
—Ted Baehr, Movieguide

…This genial religious-themed dramedy is refreshingly lacking in preachiness. …
—Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter

…Jesus’ teachings are also poignantly reinforced by the lives of the people Gavin meets at church. Those regular folks are not perfect. …But Gavin gradually realizes how having a relationship with Christ has helped them become people who give grace… [4½/5]
—Adam R. Holz, Plugged In

…a family-friendly crowd pleaser. It's hard to imagine anyone in its intended audience of American Christian movie fans…coming out of the theater unhappy. …very easy-to-sit-through… [3/5]
—Shawn McEvoy, Crosswalk

…“Gavin Stone” goes exactly where it’s expected. But it has a genial and good-natured time getting there. [3/5]
—Cary Darling, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

…A predictable yet pleasant faith-based dramedy about a former child star who gets a shot at redemption. …
—Joe Leydon, Variety

…almost breaks free from faith-based formula…
—Luke Y. Thompson, Forbes

…an earnest drama… the movie's sincerity will deliver the uplift this movie's target audience is seeking. [2]
—Sean P. Means, The Salt Lake Tribune

Comments from non-viewers
Neutral—I rate this as Neutral with CAUTION. I also say it having only seen the trailer. In the new movie, THE RESURRECTION OF GAVIN STONE, the main character, a winsomely handsome actor is consigned to community service. Naturally, he comes into a church for his CS and falls for the pastor’s daughter. After some formulaic character development, designed to make us care, our adorable, yet unabashedly narcissistic hunk has some epiphany and says: “I’m not sure how this thing you have with God works, actually, but I like what it does.” Real glad he likes what ‘it does.’ Whatever ‘it’ is. In the background the music gushes a chorus of, “We are limitless, limitless! We are limitless, limitless!” Sounds like a good Tony Robbins theme song. I liked the music; not the message.

Aside from bumper sticker gospel, baby food worship music and overdone plot elements, how is the film? OK, so I nit-pick here, since, again, I only saw the trailer, but it seems the messages given could involve any diety called God and still work. Just stick your choice in like an advertisement in any other made-for-TV movie. Which maybe the problem here. Is this a MFTV movie? Playing to a large and diverse audience? I hope so, because that lowers the bar somewhat.

Like most films, it soft pedals sin. Just recently I heard a very popular “evangelist” talking about some practitioners of sin as “naughty.” While this makes it endearing, why do we think it proper to not spell out the real situation? We’re all lost, creepy sinners looking out for #1 and telling God to shove off. Yep, even the handsome ones do it. We are not naughty. We are wicked.

The current popular “Gospel Message” emphasis seems to be on positive thinking messages, rather than good doctrine. Messages that demand feeling more than truth. I hope I am wrong, as the movie looks fairly well done, even if the plot is pretty well wrung out. A plot this well worn demands talented thespians to hold it up, and I think these actors are up to the job, even if the ship may not be worth saving.

If this movie provokes a prayer of salvation (Hey, God uses the oddest stuff), be sure to get the person to a Bible right away and some good clear teaching. If you don’t, some off balance ministry will eat them up. I’m not saying don’t see the movie, just be aware of what you’re eating and be sure to balance it out with some healthy food and don’t build theology without the Bible.

Will be back after I sit through the whole film. Gosh, I hope it’s not as long as that Star Wars thing. It was a mistake to put me in that recliner.
—Brian, age 64 (USA)
Positive—Responding to the neutral comment above: I am a member of the church, Harvest Bible Chapel, responsible for producing and releasing this film. And if you know anything about our church and our pastor (James MacDonald), you’d know that we are not “soft” on sin or Biblical teaching. Actually, this film is heavily aimed at US, as the church, showing us the way that church SHOULD be, which is welcoming without judgment, loving without condition, and forgiving without limit.

That’s pretty ironic given the above reviewer, who was very quick to judge the entire film based on a few clips and his personal preferences. But clips from the forthcoming movie, interviews with the actors, and applicable scriptures have been used in our recent services to challenge, convict, and teach our fellowship about how we are supposed to treat not only fellow believers, but anyone who walks through our doors.

I’m looking forward to seeing the movie, as the lesson above has already opened my eyes about how I can be more welcoming, loving, and forgiving. I hope it does the same for all who see it.
—Lynda, age 37 (USA)