Frick Flick Rating: 4/5 Stars
Put on your bell bottoms, grab your lovebeads, and buy a ticket to the The Jesus Revolution—you’ll be glad you did. This movie is the true story of a hippie youth minister named Lonnie Frisbee who, with the help of a California pastor, brought thousands of disenfranchised young people back to Jesus.
The film chronicles the events that took place during the “Jesus Movement” of the late sixties and early seventies, a time when the Vietnam War raged, and the younger generation distrusted anyone over the age of 30.
Kelsey Grammer of Frasier fame plays Chuck Smith, an uptight Christian pastor in Costa Mesa, California, whose daughter welcomes a Jesus lookalike (Frisbee, played by the captivating Jonathan Roumie of The Chosen) into their home. Gentle, charismatic, and kind, the visitor quickly wins the affections of the family and is invited to give a sermon at Smith’s church, where attendance has been steadily dwindling.
Dressed in a paisley tunic with a daisy in his long brown hair, a barefoot Frisbee addresses the handful of parishioners inside the Calvary Chapel. “My people are only looking for a place where we can be accepted,” he tells the stiff-backed congregation. “We can only enter doors that are open to us, and this church, well its doors are shut.”
With Smith’s enthusiastic approval, crowds of Frisbee’s followers pack the pews of the small chapel from that day forward. They get baptized in the ocean and fill a sprawling tent outside the church with nightly worship and song.
I would be remiss not to mention that Grammer’s (Smith’s) almost instantaneous metamorphosis from a “hippie-phobic square” to a teary-eyed Frisbee fan was a little hard to swallow. I’m guessing the real Pastor Smith took a bit longer to erect the “Hippies Welcome Here” sign on his front lawn.
One of Frisbee’s most ardent disciples is teenager Greg Laurie, played masterfully by 25-year-old Joel Courtney. Young Laurie struggles with his alcoholic mother, an identity crisis, a near-death experience on LSD, and ultimately gets the calling to become a preacher. We are told in the epilogue to the movie that Laurie went on to found the Harvest Christian Fellowship, one of the largest evangelical churches in the country.
(Full disclosure)—I am a believer and a baby boomer, so, as you might expect, I loved The Jesus Revolution. The film is nostalgic and engrossing with a cast of characters that I cared about and rooted for from start to finish.
On-line critic rottentomatoes.com gave the movie a dismal 62%, but its “Audience Score” was 99%. I vote with the latter.
The Jesus Revolution is rated PG-13.