“Jesus Revolution,” a movie from the Irwin Brothers that released on Friday, defied film critics’ reviews over the weekend, taking the #3 spot at the box office despite showing on less than 2,500 screens.
“Jesus Revolution” is the story of the birth of the “Jesus People” movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It stars Kelsey Grammar (Frasier) as Pastor Chuck Smith, who started Calvary Chapel in Southern California and was encouraged to invite hippies into his struggling church. Hesitant at first to do so, Smith is quoted in the film as saying: “When God walks in here and brings me a hippie, I’ll ask him what it’s all about – because I do not understand.”
The hippie-street-preacher God brought into Smith’s life was Lonnie Frisbee (played by Jonathan Roumie [The Chosen]) – and their relationship launched the unexpected revival that exploded into what TIME Magazine dubbed a “Jesus Revolution” in its June 21, 1971 cover story.
The film also chronicles the coming-of-age salvation story of a young Greg Laurie (played by Joel Courtney), who was led to the Lord at Calvary Chapel. Laurie is now a popular evangelist and senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California – one of the largest churches in the U.S.
On Friday, American Family Association president Tim Wildmon shared that he had viewed a preview of the film. “This was the best Christian movie I’ve ever seen – and I’m not easily impressed by Christian movies,” he shared.
Ray Pritchard – Wildmon’s co-host – agreed, arguing that the movie could not have come at a better time.
“I think the scheduling of this movie is clearly providential, in the hands of God, considering what has been happening up at Asbury and the talk of revival,” Pritchard stated. “Guys, God’s up to something – and we haven’t seen the end of it yet.”
In fact, that was one of the prayers of director Jon Erwin, who stated: “If a Jesus revolution happened before, it can happen again. Why can’t the next Jesus revolution begin right now?”
CinemaScore gave “Jesus Revolution” a rare A+ grade from filmgoers after seeing the movie. Last year only two films received that high a rating: “Top Gun: Maverick” and “The Woman King.”