Movies with Isaiah: 'Jesus Revolution' isn't just for Christian movie-goers


Memories of conversations with my parents often illuminated the sentiment of the expression of experiencing a level of enviousness. They'd share stories of their experiences during significant historical movements, fashion trends, evolution of music and how the world seemed far simpler and more connected.

Being born in the '80s, my thoughts usually venture to the belief that I was born in the wrong decade. If it were scientifically/physically possible to invent a time machine, journeying into the era of the hippies is the period I'd want to experience: the atmosphere of peace, love and music coupled with Woodstock events and being part of witnessing moments such as Neil Armstrong taking the first steps on the moon. Simply imagining the energy of those events awakened the desire of longing to be associated with history.

Christian-based film "Jesus Revolution" brings forth a story based on true events of Pastor Chuck Smith, Lonnie Frisbee and Greg Laurie in a collaborative and heartwarming effort sparking a religious movement of converting hippies to Christianity. Upon the release of the trailer, my reaction was immediate interest. The presentation of the story generated a sincere, authentic, traditional view into the movement that I felt hasn't been experienced in cinema.

The cast, Joel Courtney, Jonathan Roumie and Kelsey Grammer, portray the real-life figures who began a historical phenomenon that remains strong to this very day. Anyone who is familiar with Kelsey Grammer was exposed to him during his years on the show "Cheers" as Dr. Frasier Crane. His character received his spin-off series titled "Frasier," and he went on to be featured in several films, Broadway productions and voice-acting contributions. His acting career is truly a remarkable one for the ages.

During the viewing of "Jesus Revolution," my eyes became fixated on the format of how the film was constructed. Immediately I noticed how its appearance showcased an old-school traditional scope as if it had been filmed with an 8mm camera, giving off an authentic '70s perspective capturing the atmosphere, dialect, fashion and music. How it was filmed is a comforting breath of fresh air that resonates in a manner of placing the viewer in that hippie era - everything from the practical set designs of how buildings were structured in the late '60s into the early '70s, how social circles interacted with one another and bell-bottom jeans, which makes me hope that they return to style again. The film focuses on the narrative of embracing outcasts and experiencing significant struggles in the desire of wanting to do the right thing. It presents powerful, heartwarming emotion with the sincere acting performances. Grammer shines as the assertive, charming, somewhat fish-out-of-water Pastor Chuck Smith with his stark, compassionate and humorous delivery of dialogue coupled with perfect facial expressions. From my point of view, he captured the mindset of one who doesn't understand nor knows what to expect from hippies.

Courtney and Roumie also shine with their performances with the perfect combination of humor, raw emotion and cherished inspiration. It became very obvious how spiritually and emotionally moved the cast were during the filming process. While professional actors are easily able to create artificial emotions, one element that cannot be faked is sincerity and real movement within the heart, soul and mind. Another dynamic I thoroughly enjoyed was the music associated with the story reflecting the climate of the '60s and '70s with the music of Edwin Star, Janis Joplin, The Doors and utilizing modern Christian music by incorporating it with sounds from that era. Once again, a refreshing take on music and the atmosphere of the hippie movement.

Is it necessary to be a Christian in order to watch "Jesus Revolution?" No, it is not. It is another cinematic outing that has the ability in reach out to any and all different belief systems. Despite the obvious message of the film, there's never a sense of forcing thoughts or beliefs on the viewers. Simply it can be viewed as a powerful, sentimental and inspiring film created to build up and strengthen, and on the other side, it can also be viewed as an entertaining, heartwarming, emotional and organic story providing a message for those who are in a struggle or looking for a positive perspective.

I highly recommend this feature as it's wonderful for families, children, youth groups and young adults. A perfect 10/10 and two thumbs. It is a must see.

My next review on the horizon is "Creed III" that's being released on Friday, March 3.

Isaiah Ridley works at Beacon Cinemas in Sumter. To watch his movie reviews online, find him @Izzy's Cinematic Escape on YouTube.