Title: The Resurrection of Gavin Stone
Directed by: Dallas Jenkins
Release Date: January 20, 2017 (IN THEATERS NOW)
A washed-up former child star, forced to do community service at a local megachurch, pretends to be a Christian to land the part of Jesus in their annual Passion Play, only to discover that the most important role of his life is far from Hollywood.
Gavin Stone grew up in the spotlight. Everything in his life revolved around him – and he knew it. As a young child star whose catchphrase shot him to the height of popularity, his image was on everything. Literally. Shirts, cups, posters…you can always find a Gavin Stone fan somewhere. Until life happened that is. Then the spotlight isn’t quite so kind. Instead of the warm glow, it turns into more of a harsh interrogation room. Everywhere you go, people start looking for you to fail. And when you have that spotlight, you pretty much usually fail spectacularly.
So we meet Gavin when he’s on the skids. He’s done some criminal things that result in 200 hours of community service. And guess where he gets assigned? The local church in his old hometown. So now he’s about to test the theory that you can’t go home again. While he’s not really a fan of community service, he gets excited when he realizes the church is putting on a production. Where better to employ the gorgeous narcissistic actor than in the role of Jesus? This is when things begin to unravel in Gavin’s mind.
Now, off topic for just a second here. I’ve worked in television and film for a while now. I’ve worked on blockbusters that broke box office records, with major television networks and with a lot of small, indie features. One of the biggest issues I’ve had with faith based films has been that as soon as someone says those words (faith based or Christian) the film is suddenly relegated to sub par quality in the listener’s mind. It’s like we’re allowed to demote it a few levels because it’s about God. Seriously – that bothers me more than just about anything else about Christian films. But the reality is that the reputation has been earned. For the most part, Christians have been trying to keep up with other films and filmmakers – but we’re running a bit behind.
Enter Gavin Stone. This movie deserves top shelf placement. It’s that good. The humor isn’t forced or uncomfortable. (Come on – we’ve all been in those movies where you know you’re supposed to laugh but you just sort of glance around the room and wonder if anyone else is feeling it…) This movie is REALLY FUNNY! Like laugh out loud choke on your popcorn funny. I mean there were moments you could clearly see the trainwreck coming, but you still couldn’t help but laugh. Out loud. A lot. The movie theater rolled with laughter several times. It was a really fun movie. And I appreciated that all the jokes about church and Christians were in there, but it wasn’t making fun. It was legitimately funny.
As funny as this movie is, it does not shy away from the gospel. None of the powerful impact of a life changed is sacrificed to humor here. The movie is funny, but when the emotion hits you, it’s a steam roller. It will roll over you relentlessly as the power of God’s word reaches through broken hearts on the screen and off. As I was searching my pockets for a tissue, I heard people around me sniffling and crying. I even saw my husband wiping suspiciously at his eyes during part of it. That power united the people in the theater. We were all in one place watching a movie, but at that moment, we were all of one mind as well. You could feel it in that theater. I haven’t felt that emotion since watching War Room with my church. At one point during the film (not the ending either) the audience burst into applause. Some even stood and you could hear people praising. Yeah. It was that good. You watch the trailer for this and you see the laughter and the jokes – you don’t expect the power in the ending. Even when you see it coming, it still takes your breath away.
This was a fabulous movie. Seriously one of my favorite films ever. I laughed so hard and then I nearly sobbed with tears. DO NOT MISS IT! This is precisely the kind of film we NEED to see more of. This is the movie that you need to support. You hear that on every Christian film (I know because I’m the person telling you that – there’s always a reason behind begging people to go see a movie.) The difference with this one is that if we don’t support films like this one, I’m afraid we won’t see more of this caliber. And we need to. We really, really need to.