The Jesus Revolution Continues
For the second time in three months, a faith-based film ranked #3 in national box office revenues the last weekend of February. This time, Jesus Revolution pulled in $15.5 million, more than twice advance projections. To top that off, the weekend of Mar. 3 it earned another $15 million and was #4 in the rankings.
In a nation gripped by news of the Asbury Revival over the past month, it has been another “sit up and take notice” moment.
Still, a relatively short run followed by multiple streaming options is sad. That’s because this is the kind of film best seen on a large screen.
Money Well Spent
This movie marked the first time my wife and I had been to a theatrical showing in at least five years. Thank goodness it was money well spent.
There are multiple reasons I say that, starting with the performances of Jonathan Roumie and Kelsey Grammer.
For those who haven’t seen The Chosen—the other Christian box-office bonanza of late—Roumie does a masterful job in the role of Jesus in the ongoing online series.
He is equally impressive in Jesus Revolution. Portraying mercurial evangelist Lonnie Frisbee, Roumie lends the kind of flair and wide-eyed enthusiasm that made a 1960s-era hippie convert come alive.
In the same way I was taken with comedian Robin Williams playing a dark character in August Rush, Grammer wowed me with his portrayal of Pastor Chuck Smith. The normally comedic actor took on a somber, serious role while mixing in moments of levity with considerable skill.
In addition, I was cheered to read just prior to our viewing that Grammer now professes a belief in Christ.
Spot on Portrayal
For those who weren’t around in the 1960s and ‘70s, Jesus Revolution may seem like a fictionalized retelling. As one who lived through those days, I can assure that it was spot-on.
I know because of being accosted by a trio of Jesus freaks on the streets of San Francisco in 1972. They were followers of a shady street evangelist who later wound up in prison for fraud and sexual abuse.
These aggressive, off-putting folks did little to convince me to change my wayward ways during my college years. Fortunately, I didn’t allow that distasteful encounter to prevent me from later making the same decision countless numbers of Jesus People did.
Therein lies another admirable trait of Jesus Revolution. It doesn’t gloss over the personality conflicts, ego-tripping, and other frailties that are part of many movements. After all, humans are involved.
Plus, the early scenes where suit-and-tie-adorned faithful elderly members of Smith’s church scorn youthful, tie-dyed-clothed newcomers? As good a modern-day “Pharisees vs. Jesus” parallel as I’ve ever seen portrayed.
Alive and Well
The juxtaposition of the two offers the answer to the 1966 question: obviously not. Not when Greg Laurie, a one-time associate of Chuck Smith, still pastors one of the largest churches in Southern California. Not when thousands of churches spanning the nation have origins that can be traced back to the spiritual activity sparked by the Holy Spirit six decades ago.
Nor has the movement sparked by the Jesus Revolution ended. As evidence, I cite the revival at Asbury in 1970 being followed by another in 2023. The Holy Spirit is still at work.