Movie Review: 'Jesus Revolution'

via Lions Gate Entertainment

Jesus Revolution, which hit movie theaters in February and is now available at Prime, YouTube, Apple TV and other video services, attempts to tell the true story of Lonnie Frisbee, a self-styled religious hippie guru who helped found the "Jesus Movement" in the late '60s in California, but falls way short.

Frisbee, played by Jonathan Roumie, was an acid freak who found God while tripping. Looking the Jesus part (long brown hair and beard), he attracts naive hippies to his scene which involves baptizing people in the ocean and faith healing in church. His horde arrives at Calvary Church run by Chuck Smith (Kelsey Grammer) and takes over. Since his daughter Janette (Ally Ionnides) has become a disciple, Smith goes along, giving Frisbee the pulpit.

"There's an entire generation searching for God," he preaches. "We thought acid was going to save the world, but that was lie. My people are a desperate bunch."

Since this is a faith-based film intended for a certain audience, it's never explained why LSD was "a lie."

At a rock festival featuring Janis Joplin (Erin Schaut), Timothy Leary (Steve Hanks) tells the crowd:

"The psychedelic experience is a confrontation with the divine. It's a spiritual awakening. You come back and you define God the best you can. So turn on, tune in and drop out. Start a new sequence of behavior that matches your vision."

It's unclear whether Leary ever said that other than his famous "Turn on, tune in and drop out" catch phrase, but he did say:

"A psychedelic experience is a journey to new realms of consciousness. The scope and content of the experience is limitless, but its characteristic features are the transcendence of verbal concepts, of space-time dimensions, and of the ego or identity. Such experiences of enlarged consciousness can occur in a variety of ways: Most recently they have become available to anyone through the ingestion of psychedelic drugs such as LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, DMT, etc. Of course, the drug does not produce the transcendent experience. It merely acts as a chemical key — it opens the mind, frees the nervous system of its ordinary patterns and structures.”

Just in case viewers get bored, directors Jon Erwin and Brent McCorkle build in a love story. Cathe (Anne Grace Barlow) introduces high schooler Greg (Joel Courtney) to Lonnie. They all go to the festival and dose. Next thing Greg is walking around barefoot and freaking out his parents. While Cathe's folks don't care much for Greg, the teens still team up as a couple. But will they ever receive family approval?

Frisbee eventually outlives his welcome with Calvary and moves on to another church, The Vineyard.

What the movie fails to tell is Frisbee's secret life as a gay man, which of course is not acceptable in conventional churches. There was nothing conventionial about Frisbee, including his unusual last name. Frisbee suffered from HIV and died of AIDS in 1993 at 43. 

Jesus Revolution is a lie, like the religious fervor it expouses. Watch the documentary below instead.


Become a Patron!


Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.