The Resurrection of Gavin Stone (2016)
PG | 1h 32min | Comedy, Drama, Family | 20 January 2017 (USA)
Posted – Matt Mungle
Synopsis: A washed-up former child star (Brett Dalton), 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.
Review: You can read the synopsis and basically know the ins and out of The Resurrection of Gavin Stone and its redemptive message. But what surprised me is how much I laughed, and even choked up a few times, along the way. Faith based films have been raised from the dead of late as studios have discovered the cash cow they can be. Even those that are horribly made seem to turn a profit as church goers are hungry to gobble up anything in this genre. So when you get one like this that is obviously a step in the right direction you have to give a few hallelujahs. Sure it doesn’t walk on water but it is not worth stoning either.
One thing that helps this one succeed is the casting of Brett Dalton in the lead role. In the past filmmakers have been too quick to grab a local parishioner off the nearest pew and give them the job. And we have seen how terrible that ends up. So having someone who can actually deliver the lines correctly and surround him with other qualified individuals like Anjelah Johnson-Reyes, Neil Flynn, and D.B. Sweeney makes all the difference. Plus WWE fans will be excited to see Shawn Michaels. Granted there is very little sweet chin music but hey you can’t have it all.
The script comes from Andrea Gyertson Nasfell who is no stranger to the family friendly genre. She caught our attention with 2014’s Mom’s Night Out and here proves she will be one to watch in the future. That said I am still not sure how this will fly with non-christians. A lot of the lingo and church life will seem as foreign to many as if it were shot on Mars. One fellow critic even asked me if that was really how “these people” act. It made me laugh and as I watched it I realized that had I not spent most of my life in church I would be as lost. I even found myself cringing at some of the conversations and characters. I know those people in real life and they bug me even more on screen. But Andrea writes with humor and does poke fun at a lot of it. Never vengeful or hateful; just making fun of how we as Christians often behave in our little circles.
The most fun comes at the expense of Gavin Stone. Watching him try to fit in while pretending to be one of the flock is side splitting. Again she is not making fun of his ignorance but allows it to organically fit in his journey. Gavin knows nothing about Jesus which in turn allows him to ask some serious questions that we often just glaze over. We read it in the bible and take it as it is. Sometimes we never stop and ask the “why’s”. Andrea perfectly melds these moments into the plot.
We get to watch Gavin restore many of his relationships and yes some of the outcomes are puffy clouds. But that is ok. This film does so much right for the genre that I can’t stone it for those moments. If I could sum it up in one word it would be surprising. I went in prejudging it by all that have come before it. That was my mistake and an error that may be a parable in itself.
The Resurrection of Gavin Stone is rated PG for thematic elements including a crucifixion image. You know if the worst thing you can say about a film is that it has a crucifixion image it is pretty darn safe. I think families who darken the church door a few times a month will find plenty to laugh and cry about in this one. A solid film with lots of heart and humor. I give it 3.5 out of 5 disciples. I may start to be a believer after all… in the future of this genre.