JESUS REVOLUTION is a very entertaining and surprisingly accurate, although compressed, portrait of the Vietnam protest era of hippies and young revolutionaries who find Jesus because God calls several Christians to welcome them into the Body of Christ. At its heart, the plot is propelled by a love story between an impoverished young man, Greg Laurie, with an alcoholic mother, and a beautiful young woman named Cathe (pronounced “Kathy”) from a wealthy Laguna Hills family in Southern California. The movie is very bold about showing drug use, communal living and the protest rallies. Having lived through this period, the movie brings back many memories, including that of being saved by Grace alone.
The movie starts with a massive Christian baptism by Chuck Smith and Lonnie Frisbee at Pirate’s Cove Beach in Newport Beach, Calif.
Then, it switches to a young boy, named Greg Laurie, whose mother takes him away from the only father he had known, although he’s just a stepfather, out to Southern California, to live on the beach in a broken-down trailer. The mother is constantly drunk or hung over and complains because she has many boyfriends who all leave her.
While going to military school at his mother’s insistence, Greg passes a rally at a nearby public school where Black Panthers, hippies and others are speaking and sees this gorgeous girl. He spends his life drawing cartoons and filming with his 8mm film camera. One of the hippies comes up and says, “What are you looking at?” The hippie realizes Greg is looking at Cathe and calls her over. Cathe invites Greg to a weekend of hippie partying.
At the same time, Pastor Chuck Smith nearby has a small, dying church and is confronted by his daughter, Jeanette, to open the church to the young hippies and outcasts who’ve congregated in Los Angeles and the beach areas to the south. When he does so, the straightlaced members are shocked and upset. Chuck is convinced to open the church by Lonnie Frisbee, a hippie street preacher who had been part of the hippie scene at Haight Ashbury and has come to Los Angeles.
The hippies who start coming to Pastor Chuck’s church are a motley crew. Chuck, having been confronted by his daughter, talks about God’s love to the “least of these”, and Lonnie has a powerful, spirit-filled presentation of the Bible.
Meanwhile, Cathe has burned out on the drug scene and tries Chuck’s church. Eventually, she convinces Greg to come to Chuck’s church, Calvary Chapel. Greg thinks the Jesus Movement is just another fad, but he eventually comes to Christ during one of Chuck and Lonnie’s Pirate Cove baptisms.
From that point, Greg gets more and more involved in the church and moves out of his mother’s trailer to live in the community home that Chuck Smith has bought for the rapidly growing crowd of hippies. The church is growing so rapidly that it moves into a tent. Greg believes his is called by God to preach, so Chuck sends Greg to Riverside, where his first attempt fails. Greg also asks Cathe’s wealthy father for Cathe’s hand in marriage, but the father rejects him harshly because Greg is poor with no hope to provide for Cathe. Cathe tells her father she loves Greg anyway, but Greg is devastated and leaves her.
So, the questions become, will Greg and Cathe get back together, which the audience wants? Will the Time Magazine reporter, who’s used to doing cutting edge articles and has been assigned to cover the Jesus People Movement, accurately report on the Jesus Revolution? Will revival break out beyond Newport Beach? Will Greg Laurie have a future in ministry?
JESUS REVOLUTION is incredibly well made and interesting, with many scenes of intense jeopardy and many scenes featuring inspiring, uplifting, well-written Christian presentations and expressions of the Gospel. MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution because the movie accurately presents the drug scene from an impartial viewpoint that might be attractive to younger children. JESUS REVOLUTION also shows the mother’s constant drunkenness and philandering. It even has a very clear negative representation of uptight older Christians and parents. These are part of the fabric of the true stories in JESUS REVOLUTION, stories which, to an amazing degree, have been made into an exciting movie, but these negative elements demand caution.
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