Reviewed by: Keith Rowe
|• Adults • Young-Adults • Teens
|Year of Release:
February 24, 2023 (wide release)
DVD: April 25, 2023
The hippie counterculture movement in California (1960s)
Use of drugs
Looking for truth
Parent leaves child and spouse
Truth is always quiet while the liars are usually loud
What is SIN AND WICKEDNESS? Answer
Sexual promiscuity and other sins very common in the hippie culture
Are you good enough to get to Heaven? Answer
What is THE FEAR OF THE LORD?
What is spiritual regeneration (being born-again)? Answer
GAY—What’s wrong with being Gay? Answer —Homosexual behavior versus the Bible: Are people born Gay? Does homosexuality harm anyone? Is it anyone’s business? Are homosexual and heterosexual relationships equally valid?
What about Gays needs to change? Answer —It may not be what you think.
Read stories about those who have struggled with homosexuality
“God made me like this. Sin is His fault!” Response
For a follower of Christ, what is LOVE—a feeling, an emotion, or an action?
What is a TRUE BIBLICAL CHRISTIAN?
Stumped about how to share your faith in Christ with others? ChristianAnswers’ Effective Evangelism section assists believers 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.
Why is the world the way it is? If God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and loving, would He really create a world like this? (filled with oppression, suffering, death and cruelty) Answer
Are you good enough to get to Heaven? Answer
How good is good enough? Answer
Will all mankind eventually be saved? Answer
Kelsey Grammer … Chuck Smith
Joel Courtney … Greg Laurie
Jonathan Roumie … Lonnie Frisbee
Kimberly Williams-Paisley … Charlene Laurie
Anna Grace Barlow … Cathe Laurie
Jackson Robert Scott … Young Greg Laurie
Julia Campbell … Kay Smith, Chuck’s wife
See all »
Kingdom Story Company
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|Lionsgate (Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.)
“Everything’s about to change.”
Based on true events, “Jesus Revolution” chronicles the early days of a spiritual movement that started in California and swept across the U.S. in the early 70s.
The film opens with aging pastor, Chuck Smith (Kelsey Grammer), shepherding aging parishioners; they sit like statues, uninspired by his passionless homily. While watching footage of a youth protest on TV, Chuck’s daughter says he shouldn’t pass judgment on the hippies. The next day, she brings one home to confront her father with his own prejudice. The Jesus-looking hippie is named Lonnie Frisbee (Jonathan Roumie).
Lonnie invites his friends over to Chuck’s house, and soon, the church is overrun with the barefoot brigade. On the plus side, Lonnie and his lot breathe life into the church, bringing lively music, excitement and a hunger for the truth to the calcified congregation. Now Chuck is faced with a difficult decision: should he embrace these colorful newcomers and risk losing his members, or send the hippies packing and return to business as usual?
The second word in title might give you a hint as to what Chuck did.
Not only does the movie center on an inflection point in our nation’s history, it also dramatizes a major turning point in the lives of three prominent ministers—Chuck Smith from Calvary Chapel, evangelist Lonnie Frisbee and Greg Laurie (played by Joel Courtney) of Harvest Christian Fellowship. Each of these men has made an indelible impact on the way countless Protestant churches operate, serve and worship today.
Co-directed by Jon Erwin (“I Can Only Imagine”) and Brent McCorkle, “Jesus Revolution” perfectly captures the look and feel of the late 60s and early 70s. From the shaggy coifs and grubby duds to the psychedelic “Magic Bus,” every frame of the film feels true to the period. Another layer of authenticity is the washed out, “old film stock” look of many of the scenes in the movie; a visual style that’s effective in the outdoor scenes, particularly those shot at the “Pirate’s Cove” location.
A nice historical touch is the inclusion of the band Love Song with snippets from some of their songs. Love Song is widely regarded as the first contemporary Christian music (CCM) band.
The movie boasts many fine young actors, particularly Courtney and Anna Grace Barlow, who plays Cathe, Greg’s girlfriend. Headlining the cast is Grammer, who deftly negotiates the emotions of a man caught between two worlds: traditional Christianity and the new movement embraced by the youth of the era. Kudos to Grammer for choosing to be involved with this project and for being so outspoken about his faith. Many have been canceled for less.
The other veteran actor in the movie is Kimberly Williams-Paisley, who plays Greg’s mother in a minor and fairly unsympathetic role. Of course, Roumie is a major draw for many in the audience since he plays Jesus in “The Chosen.” Tough his wardrobe is different here, Roumie retains his messianic appearance from the Biblical series. However, fans of the series might be thrown for a loop the first time they hear him speak.
Aside from its terrific cast, historical accuracy and excellent production elements, the movie has a lot to say about our culture, both then and now.
With the typical Hollywood movie, I have to scrape and scrounge to find enough material to fill this section, but with this film there’s literally no way I can address all the spiritual principles broached in the film. But I’ll do my best to hit on some of the movie’s major themes and scenes. (Note: some spoilers in this section.)
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” —Isaiah 43:19
Many members of Chuck’s church struggle with the arrival of the new, long-haired people sitting in the pews of their church. One persnickety parishioner points out that their bare feet are leaving marks on the carpet. This reveals the misplaced priorities of the church’s old guard: they’d rather save the carpet than save the souls of the young people coming to the church in search of the truth.
In response to their myopic carping, Chuck grabs a towel, sets a basin of water outside the church, and washes the feet of each newcomer to ensure their clean feet won’t stain the carpet. This act of service quells his critical congregants and models the way Jesus washed his disciple’s feet at the Last Supper (John 13:1-5).
While some embrace change, others fear it. Either way, change is seldom easy. Just as many of Jesus’ followers turned away from him when he said something unpopular (John 6:66), so did many of Chuck’s regular attendees when he defended and accepted the far-out freeloaders. To his credit, Chuck welcomed the young vagabonds into his church when it would’ve been much easier to slam the door in their face.
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” —John 8:32
One of the movie’s main themes is the search for truth. The youth of the 60s and 70s were tired of being lied to by parents and a corrupt government, and turned to sex, drugs and rock n’ roll to try and escape a world gone mad.
Speaking of his generation, Lonnie Frisbee says, “Drugs were a quest…for God.” Though many claimed “acid would save the world,” it was a lie; there was “still a void.” He admits that his contemporaries were “searching for all the right things in all the wrong places.”
Ironically, what the youth of that period were searching for, “Peace and Love,” are hallmarks of Christianity (Galatians 5:22-23). Observing the similarities between the rallying cry of the countercultural youth of the day and the mission of the church, Chuck’s daughter wisely asks him, “Don’t you want the same thing?” So, why is there such a big disconnect between those who have the Truth and those searching for it? It’s a question that should convict every follower of Christ.
In one scene, Cathe says, “What if there is no truth?” Greg picks up on her reference to one of the popular philosophies espoused by poet and writer Allen Ginsberg. Greg rejects this notion: “Some things are absolutely true.” Even before his conversion to Christianity, Greg realizes that there’s one objective truth.
I sincerely hope our politicians are reading this.
“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” —Proverbs 16:18
As a compelling and inspiring teacher, Lonnie draws larger and larger crowds to Chuck’s church—there’s an amusing nod to “Jaws” when Lonnie says to Chuck, “You’re going to need a bigger church.” Eventually, his teaching services morph into healing services, where all manner of physical and mental conditions are healed with the power of God. When people start to wonder if Lonnie’s ministry is true Christianity or a cult, Chuck cautions Lonnie to dial back “the theatrics.” Chuck’s admonition falls on deaf ears.
During a TV interview, renowned faith healer, Kathryn Kuhlman, asks Lonnie if he considers himself a prophet. After much consideration, Lonnie claims that, in light of all the miraculous things he’s done, he must be a prophet.
At one point, Lonnie interrupts Chuck’s sermon when he senses that someone in the congregation is in pain. Later, when Chuck confronts Lonnie in private, Lonnie emphatically states, “Without me, there is no movement!”
Pride can be so subtle, so incremental. It sneaks up on us like a stalking cat. Since it’s been the downfall of so many people over the centuries, pride should be continuously guarded against; lest we end up in the pit of delusion, where we think everything good in our life is the result of our own intelligence, skill, strength and cunning.
What does the Bible say about HUMILITY?
How and why did Jesus greatly humble himself for us? Answer
We learn about Greg’s past in a series of flashbacks. His mother has a pattern of letting him down. She promises to change her behavior, but reverts to her promiscuous lifestyle. Greg’s mom moves him away from his dad, which causes him to develop abandonment issues.
Now as an adult, Greg learns an earth-shattering truth while visiting his mom in the hospital. In a reversal of the famous line from “The Empire Strikes Back,” she says, “He’s not your father.”
The long-delayed revelation that he was adopted sends Greg into a tailspin. In an effort to console Greg, Lonnie says, “We’re all orphans.” He refers to the revival at Calvary Chapel as “a movement of orphans.”
Regardless of who raised you and what your family situation is like, your Heavenly Father will always take care of you.
“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure” —Ephesians 1:5 NLT
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’” —Isaiah 6:8
Chuck yielded his own will to God’s new direction for his church. Lonnie was transformed from a sidewalk preacher into a teacher and evangelist.
Greg also took a leap of faith. In one scene, he overhears Chuck asking Lonnie to lead a Monday night service at a local church. Lonnie turns him down. Even though he isn’t equipped to be a pastor, Greg volunteers for the job. Though he’s let go from the position a short time later, Greg learns valuable lessons that will help him later in his ministry.
During a moment of self-doubt, Chuck tells Kay,
“Maybe God chose the wrong person.”
“Don’t be so arrogant to think that God can’t work through your failures.”
This comment (my vote for the best line in the film) is a powerful reminder that God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. To paraphrase Neal A. Maxwell, “God doesn’t want our ability, He wants our availability.”
Near the end of the film, Chuck tells Greg, “God has a long history of using flawed people.” Indeed, God used sinners of all stripes in the Bible to accomplish his righteous objectives. These sinner-servants included deniers (Peter), doubters (Thomas), betrayers (Judas), adulterers (David), prostitutes (Rahab), and murderers (Moses, Paul). If God used that cast of checkered characters, He can certainly use us.
So, as Al Denson once sang, “Will you be the one to answer to His call?”
DRUGS: Most of the drugs in the movie are mentioned, not shown. Two sets of parents express concern that their kids are doing drugs. One dad even goes so far as to ask his daughter if she’s doing drugs. Another parent says he doesn’t want to find his daughter in an alley with a needle in her arm.
Some drugs are mentioned by name in the movie, including pot/weed, speed and acid. The phrase “expand your mind” is a reference to drugs. The “Magic Bus” is where young people hang out and do drugs. In one scene the driver of the van is so stoned, he almost gets into an accident.
At a rock concert, a plane drops thousands of postcards with stamp-sized doses of LSD. Partygoers are shown putting the small squares on their tongues.
Another startling scene is when a young woman overdoses on drugs at a party (See: Violence and Graphic Content). At the same gathering, we see someone holding a bottle of pills.
During a healing service, a woman is said to have been healed of her drug addiction, as is a man in a wheelchair.
ALCOHOL: The movie contains a number of scenes showing alcohol, drugs and smoking. People drink from beer bottles at a party. We see a martini glass filled with alcohol and other alcoholic beverages in two bar scenes. A sinful mother frequently appears to be drunk.
SMOKING: In a flashback scene, young Greg takes a smoldering cigarette out of his mother’s hand—she’s passed out on her bed. Greg’s mother smokes in the bar scenes and we see young people smoking at a party.
SEXUAL CONTENT: Sex is obliquely referenced in several scenes. One hippie character says that in the past he “did everything and everyone,” a euphemistic way of saying “drugs” and “sex.”
One disturbing scene from Greg’s past involves his married mother trying to pick up another man at a bar (what an example for her young son!?!). Once the man learns Ms. Laurie is actually Mrs. Laurie, he promptly leaves the bar.
There’s some occasional flirting between Greg and Cathe, but nothing inappropriate.
The concert and beach scenes feature some skimpy outfits, but nothing overly objectionable.
VIOLENCE AND GRAPHIC CONTENT: A man is smacked by another to shake him out of a drug-caused panic attack. A drunken woman driving a car is hit by a truck and goes to a hospital. The movie underscores the dangers of doing drugs in one scene where a teenage girl drops to the floor and starts foaming at the mouth from a drug overdose. The scene may be too intense for some viewers.
“Jesus Revolution” is much more than a religious biopic. It’s a heartfelt drama that also has comedic and romantic elements. It’s a story of renewal and redemption. A tale of faith and friendship. And most of all, it’s a reminder of the miraculous things God can do through us when we yield to his will and purpose.
It’s been said that with God there are no coincidences. So then, it’s no coincidence that just before the release of “Jesus Revolution,” a revival broke out at Asbury University in Kentucky. Perhaps what’s started there will be the beginning of a new Jesus Revolution. And considering the fact that this movie opened the same weekend as “Cocaine Bear,” boy do we need it!
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
Note: Pastor Greg Laurie has said, “This film is not primarily about Chuck Smith, Lonnie Frisbee, Cathe Laurie, or me. It’s about how Jesus moved and sent a spiritual awakening in our lives that is still being felt today.”