A Jesus Story Without the Cheese

As our family gets older, it becomes harder and harder to find a movie that will both enlighten and entertain a vast range of ages without scandalizing the younger ones (we currently range from ages 7-18). When it became clear that almost everyone would be home this Friday evening, I made an announcement that I often make when I am trying to widen the cultural horizons of our children, reduce the number of individual screens, and make watching more communal. I said, “I want to show you all a movie together, and I want you to give it 30 minutes before you decide you want to see something else.” The 30 minute rule is for us the test of a universally good family flick. The Jesus Revolution passed this test for all but the seven year old. Available now to rent or buy through Amazon Prime, this film will be worth every minute of your family’s time.

Christian movies as a genre do not usually excite me. Often the Christians who are into making films that are evangelical sacrifice character development, setting, and other forms of good story telling for the obligatory conversion scene. The come-to-Jesus moment enters out of the blue and robs rather than enhances the plots as a character recites familiar formulas and come to a predictable end. In Jesus Revolution, character arcs are anything but predictable, and the one clear come-to-Jesus moment feels both natural and undetermined at the same time.

Jonathan Roumie (who plays Jesus in the TV Series The Chosen) steals the show as an itinerant hippie pastor named Lonnie Frisbie. My hard to please 13 year old son loved the scene where Frisbee’s hippie community pray over an old car that won’t start, asking the Holy Spirit for some juice to get it revving. Other convincing performances include the “square” Pastor Chuck who prays jokingly for God to introduce him to a hippie; when Lonnie shows up the next day in his living room uninvited, it is clear that God has the last laugh.

If you are not a Christian, Jesus Revolution is a great look into the Jesus People movement that was an important offshoot of the youth rebellion in the late 60’s. But be careful… watching this film might just convince you that Jesus was a righteous dude after all!

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