Jesus Revolution Parent Guide
Filled with scenes of radiant conversions, this movie also examines the challenges that come as new beliefs come into conflict with messy realities.
Parent Movie Review
When Janette Smith (Ally Ioannides) brings home a hitchhiker named Lonnie Frisbee (Jonathan Roumie), her father is taken aback. Unsettled by the cultural turmoil of the late 1960s, Pastor Chuck Smith (Kelsey Grammar) is particularly mystified by hippies and is unsure how to relate to a long-haired man with an unkempt beard sitting in his living room. As Pastor Smith speaks with Frisbee, he realizes that he has a deep knowledge of the Bible and a sincere determination to share its hope-filled message with anyone who wants to be transformed by the love of God.
Humbled by the young man’s profound faith, Pastor Smith opens up his church, providing a warm welcome to anyone who wishes to attend, be they barefoot, homeless, or addicted. Some of his congregants are horrified, but others embrace the new adherents, and the church begins a period of explosive growth, spawning a revival movement across the state.
One of the people whose life is touched by Frisbee is Greg Laurie (Joel Courtney), an emotionally wounded young man who is looking for meaning in all the wrong places, specifically drugs. With an alcoholic single mother and a cynical outlook on relationships, Greg isn’t sure if any good thing can actually last. After a terrifying experience on drugs, Greg is ready to rethink his life and accept an invitation from his girlfriend, Cathe (Anna Grace Barlow) to attend church. During services, Greg is surprised when he’s overwhelmed by a flood of emotion. Initially fearful of future disappointment, Laurie finally turns his life over to God and is baptized in the Pacific Ocean.
Jesus Revolution is based on a true story, a Christian revival movement that began in Chuck Smith’s Calvary Chapel. The movie does a fine job of capturing the excitement of the period, as open-hearted, fresh-faced young people flock to the “good news” of the Christian gospel. There are joyful baptisms and bursting chapels and radiant smiles. There are also marital problems, financial stresses, institutional strains, interpersonal rivalries, and the everyday irritations that are bound to occur when people try their faltering best to reach imprecise but lofty goals.
The most interesting part of the film comes when the euphoria of conversion crashes against the rocks of messy reality. As Frisbee and Smith disagree on how services should be conducted; as charismatic spirituality conflicts with institutional stability, the two men find themselves at odds. When they battle over whose church Calvary is, it seems possible that pride and arrogance could destroy their ministry. Laurie also learns that religious faith won’t protect him against heartache – and he struggles to regain the hope and joy that animated his initial conversion. If this movie spent less time on beatific smiles and more on excavating the bedrock of faith in trying times, it would be a better film.
Don’t get me wrong: Jesus Revolution isn’t a terrible film. Given my routine complaints about plastic, paint-by-numbers Christian movies, this should be seen as a compliment. The script’s overriding message – that Christianity isn’t a country club for the comfortable but a welcoming refuge for those on the margins – is both relevant and timely. Hopefully, the story’s emphasis on inclusion and empathy will be a wake-up call for those of us in the pews who might have slipped into complacency or self-righteousness. Whether viewers share Smith and Laurie’s particular variety of Christianity is less important than the movie’s reminder of the basic tenet of all Christian denominations: love of God and love of neighbor.
Directed by Jon Erwin, Brent McCorkle. Starring Ally Ioannides, Jonathan Roumie, Kelsey Grammer. Running time: 120 minutes. Theatrical release February 24, 2023. Updated February 24, 2023
Watch the trailer for Jesus Revolution
Rating & Content Info
Why is Jesus Revolution rated PG-13? Jesus Revolution is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for strong drug content involving teens and some thematic elements
Violence: People are shown driving under the influence of drugs and later of alcohol. A drunk driver is involved in a car accident and is later shown with bandages and scars. A person has a seizure after using drugs.
Sexual Content: None.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Drugs are frequently discussed as is addiction. Teenagers are shown using drugs and driving under the influence. A young person has a seizure as a result of taking drugs. Characters smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol. An adult is seen intoxicated on several occasions.
Page last updated February 24, 2023
Jesus Revolution Parents' Guide
Do you have religious beliefs? Do you share them with your family or did you seek them out independently? Have you experienced a strong religious conversion? How do you retain your sense of commitment?
You can see how closely the movie sticks to real events in the links below:
History vs Hollywood: Jesus Revolution (2023)
The Cinemaholic: Is Jesus Revolution Based on a True Story?
Religious revivals have ebbed and flowed across the United States. For more information about this manifestation of Christian zeal, you can read these articles:
Brewminate: The Four “Great Awakenings” in American Christian History
Share Faith: What Sparked These 5 Great American Revivals?
The New York Times: “Woodstock” for Christians: Revival Draws Thousands to Kentucky Town
Loved this movie? Try these books…
The film is based on the book Jesus Revolution: How God Transformed an Unlikely Generation and How He Can Do It Again Today by Greg Laurie and Ellen Vaughn. Greg tells his life story in Lost Boy and provides Christian insight in Every Day with Jesus, Breakfast with Jesus, and As It Is in Heaven: How Eternity Brings Focus to What Really Matters.
Chuck Smith shares his life’s experiences in Chuck Smith: A Memoir of Grace.
Lonnie Frisbee shares his perspective on his ministry in Not By Might Nor By Power: The Jesus Revolution, which he co-authored with Roger Sachs. Other books by Frisbee and Sachs include The Great Commission and Set Free.
Related home video titles:
If you’re looking for stories of individual religious conversion, you can start with The Most Reluctant Convert: The Untold Story of C.S. Lewis, which depicts the university years of the famed writer and Christian apologist. In Unbroken: Path to Redemption, Louis Zamperini remains haunted by his experiences in a Japanese POW camp. In this film he discovers the power of God’s grace to lift his darkness and lead him down a road of forgiveness and love.
Overpowering religious experiences can be followed by emptiness and spiritual endurance, as is the case for Mother Theresa. Olivia Hussy plays the nun whose ministry to the poor in Indian gained attention on the world stage.
In The Two Popes, Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio debate the issues that trouble the Catholic church. Anthony Hopkins stars as the weary pope and Jonathan Pryce as the Cardinal who will soon replace him. This film is an intriguing look at how leaders in the same faith can have very different perspectives on doctrines and institutional policies.