Jesus Revolution Image

Jesus Revolution

By Alan Ng | February 23, 2023

As a million thoughts swirled through my head, the loudest one was shouting that I had to review directors Jon Erwin and Brent McCorkle’s feature film, Jesus Revolution. The screenplay by Erwin and Jon Gunnis is based on the book by Pastor Greg Laurie. I became an Evangelical Christian in the late 70s and lived in Southern California at the tail end of the Jesus Movement era this drama depicts, so I’m very familiar with the main players. For all intent and purpose, the film is the origin story of one of the largest Christian churches in Southern California, Calvary Chapel.

Kelsey Grammer plays Calvary’s longtime pastor Chuck Smith (who passed away in 2013). In Orange County, California, Chuck humbly leads a small flock in a dwindling church. After a fight, his daughter, Janette (Ally Ioannides), storms off in a rage and runs into a hippie named Lonnie Frisbee (Jonathan Roumie). Lonnie delivers a message about Jesus Christ that she had never heard before, especially from her father. Lonnie’s message was simply that Jesus loved the sinner, and no matter how much you think you ruined your life (particularly through drugs), there is hope in Jesus Christ.

Jonathan Roumie as Lonnie Frisbee in Jesus Revolution. Photo Credit: Dan Anderson

Chuck decides to give this hippie a chance by allowing him to preach at his church.”

Chuck decides to give this hippie a chance by allowing him to preach at his church. Lonnie brought an unorthodox, casual, heartfelt message to the congregation and a full folk band, Lovesong, to bring modern worship music to replace the hymns of old. Let’s just say that Lonnie doesn’t impress the old guard, who threatened to leave the church penniless because… how much do hippies make exactly?

Jesus Revolution is also the story of Greg Laurie (Joel Courtney), a straight-laced teen on his way to the military academy at his parents’ behest. Before entering, he meets Cathe (Anna Grace Barlow), who would change Greg’s life with her hippie lifestyle and ample supply of drugs. After the near-death of their close friend, Greg and Cathe give Jesus a chance after attending one of Chuck and Lonnie’s services.

I have mixed emotions about the film, all personal in nature. Suffice it to say, it brought me back to a time in history, including my own, when the spirit of God was moving through the young folk of Southern California, and Chuck Smith was one of the figureheads. So there’s a true spirit and message of love and redemption here that I miss and haven’t felt in a long time. And that’s what I hope you take away. When life has beaten you down, and you have nothing left, there is hope in Jesus Christ.

Jesus Revolution (2023)

Directed: Jon Erwin, Brent McCorkel

Written: Jon Erwin, Jon Gunn

Starring: Kelsey Grammer, Jonathan Roumie, Joel Courtney, Anna Grace Barlow, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

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"…feels authentic to my personal experience with Christianity."

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  1. Lisa Huettl says:

    Very nice review, except you are wrong about Bible Belt Christians hating the movie. I have not heard one person say anything about the film not condemning sinners. The message it sends about Jesus, and the changed lives of those who put their faith Him. I have read nothing but great reviews from Christians all over this country. I am so glad this film is touching so many lives for Jesus.

  2. Christopher Carlton Manson says:

    Excellent review. Enjoyed the movie too.

  3. Mike Stinnette says:

    Should ask Greg Laurie and Calvary Chapel about cover up of Applegate Christian Fellowship youth pastor Kelly Rasmussen convicted child predator the pastor Jon Courson son beat rape charge media Cover Up have YouTube channel about it

  4. James Wilkinson says:

    Several of my contemporaries became Christian as a result of the Jesus Movement, not the Jesus Revolution as the film calls it. I wonder how so many of them became Trump supporters in 2016 after many years as Christians. Bigotry, misogyny and favoring guilty over the innocent are not biblical values. I note that Greg Laurie spoke at Trump inaugural event in Washington National Cathedral in 2017.

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