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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Jesus Freaks

Jesus Revolution on IMDb

Plot Overview

One Way

ChurchWhen Johnny came marching home from WW II he settled down and had babies who grew up disenchanted with America's war in Vietnam, a poor country against whom our fight seemed immoral. The older generation, how­ever, subscribed to the domino theory and wanted to stop the spread of communism. In this uneasy setting, a square SoCal pastor Chuck Smith (Kelsey Grammer) is challenged by a hippie “Jesus freak” hitch­hiker Lonnie Frisbee (Jonathan Roumie) to open up his church to the unwashed youth. They show up in droves, get baptized in Pirate's Cove, and sing their way to the end of the movie and the end of the war.

loverspoolside familygraduatesvolunteers neededHigh school senior Cathe Martin (Anna Grace Barlow) has shanghaied cadet-in-training Greg Laurie (Joel Courtney) to a happening where they're introduced to drugs. A touch-and-go overdose by Cathe's sister Dodie (Mina Sundwall) leaves her dissatisfied with the party scene, and she drifts into Chuck's flowering church, bringing Greg with her. After their conversion a romance ensues, but they face opposition from Cathe's unconverted father who's leery of Greg's limited, church volunteer prospects and separation issues from Greg's trailer trash mom who'd moved them to sunny California only to face relentless competition from its beauties.

Martin Luther King
Jr.As part of these unsettled times we hear an agitator whining, “Man, slave owners, you know. They were pushin' religion onto the slaves that they owned, whose blood and features that I bear. Christianity supports property owners, the police, and it's never been any good.” We don't see what becomes of his complaint, except perhaps for a tragic parallel in a “Romeo and Juliet” movie clip that's also about cross-family feuds. And there's one mention of the assassination of Martin Luther King. As far as this movie is concerned, that would be the end of it. The Jesus movement, on the other hand, spreads all over, even “to the South: Alabama, Georgia, Florida.” This movie takes care not to offend the Southerners who would consider them­selves Christians in good standing.


Bible Jim

“Jesus Revolution” is largely concerned with the expansion of the movement by fits and starts, the raising up of ministers, and the setting aside of some to be dealt with as needed (“Families are like bands, they break up.”) It's like a divinely tended garden along the lines of Jesus's saying, (John 15:1-2) “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”

Production Values

” (2023) was directed by Jon Erwin and Brent McCorkle. Its screenplay was written by Jon Gunn based on a book by Ellen Vaughn and Greg Laurie. The story of the Jesus movement of the late 1960's and early 1970's is accurate especially with the end notes that document its ripple effects. Not mentioned any­where is Lonnie Frisbee's homo­sexual back­ground, his later backsliding, his eventual recovery, his divorce and his death of AIDS at 43. The romance between Greg Laurie and his eventual wife Cathe is made of whole cloth, which gave the writers free rein to merge it smoothly with the movement. It stars Kelsey Grammer, Jonathan Roumie, Joel Courtney, Anna Grace Barlow, and Kimberly Williams-Paisley. Grammer was solid as Chuck Smith. Barlow shone as the girl­friend; she oughta be in pictures.

MPAA rated it PG–13 for strong drug content involving teens and some thematic elements. Although the hippies were infamous for their sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll, this movie made do with just drugs and music with­out mentioning sex. The only hint that hippies had any­thing to do with sex was from the cryptic back­ground song, The House of the Rising Sun by The Animals. Although Greg's mom was deserted (“They all leave”) by men often enough, it was never shown what they did while together. And Greg & Cathe's (two) screen kisses were shoe-horned in to accommodate the broader culture with such reluctance that they could well have been Eskimos in a Thames Williamson novel, “to make such advances to her, touching her and all the rest of it. Bah, that is what whites do. Taliak has even heard that they rub their mouths together, men and women. A horrible practice!” (143)

Bible in handI myself was at this period a Jesus freak in an Oregon branch of the movement. The King James Version (KJV) was de rigueur with us. Here Chuck Smith reads the KJV with its thee's & thou's in his home study. When preaching a sermon he substitutes for its archaic verb endings. And when Lonnie preaches from Rev. 22:17, it's not “let him that is athirst come,” but “let the one … come.” I think such gender neutering is unnecessary and poorly styled, but come another decade and it will have caught on and been projected back onto those saner times.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

It's no secret that movie romances serve as templates to show how it's done. Here Greg Laurie is listed as one of the authors and the (his) romance is an idealized rendering of how prudish Christians go about it. Fore­most for consideration is that God be first, not each other. Then a father's permission should be sought, and a mother's feelings considered. The man should plan to provide for his woman, yet both trusting in God's provision overall. Here Greg's friends gave him a junker car (“She's yours”) to go on dates in. And an unmarried couple's kiss should be smartly done, with no tongue. The two kisses are so directed, one on the first date and the other upon getting engaged. In fact they are identical showing no progression of passions. An editor could switch them out, and we'd be none the wiser. In real life Greg Laurie recommends this on the radio. His own marriage is successful, although his admitted violation of the no-tongue rule doesn't seem to have had any detrimental effect. I'm not criticizing anyone for how they want to do it, but it takes two to tango, and if the parties watch different movies or are unequally exposed to prudish preachers, they could face issues come show­down. The movie viewer should be aware that the Lauries' (real) marital success was from immitating standard screen kisses rather than what we see here.

I found this movie very touching. The characters and the songs stirred deep memories from those times. It's not perfect but one shouldn't expect that. I'm just glad somebody made it.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Road action scenes. Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years with guidance. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Good for Groups. Suspense: A few suspenseful moments. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769, 1873. Print. Software.

Williamson, Thames. The Earth Told Me. Copyright © 1930 by Thames Williamson. New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc. Print.