With the growth of faith-based films has come a new comedy that audiences seem to be loving. Just consider that “The Resurrection of Gavin Stone” — which opened over the weekend — has a 94 percent audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 7.3 out of 10 stars on IMDb. Clearly, something about the movie is resonating.
Perhaps it’s the storyline, which centers on main character Gavin Stone — a child actor who grows up to become a partier in trouble with the law. The official description explains the rest: “(Stone), forced to do community service at a local megachurch, pretends to be 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.”
It’s a comical story that mixes in faith, redemption and plenty more and, in so many ways, it’s nothing like your typical Christian film. Director Dallas Jenkins recently told “The Church Boys” podcast that the movie intentionally appeals to both Christians and non-Christians, alike.
“I want churchgoers to walk away thinking, ‘Are we doing everything we can to be welcoming, graceful and forgiving? Do we take for granted sometimes how we come across to outsiders?” Jenkins said.
Listen to Jenkins discuss “The Resurrection of Gavin Stone” below:
But there’s also a message for non-believers who don’t attend church and who might be unfamiliar with the lingo presented by some of the church folk depicted in the movie.
“For a nonbeliever, too, they’re seeing the movie through an outsider’s perspective,” he said, explaining that these people can enjoy the humor without feeling intimidated, as Gavin Stone is also profoundly confused or uncertain by some of the Christian statements made by his fellow characters. “They experience the main character feeling like he doesn’t understand it either.”
“The Resurrection of Gavin Stone” strikes a fascinating balance between showcasing some of the stereotypes that surround Christian churches, and discerning which are true and untrue, doing so in a lighthearted manner. With that in mind, Jenkins, son of “Left Behind” co-author Jerry Jenkins, said he was attracted to the script for a variety of reasons.
“I immediately knew that it was ripe for some organic humor,” he said. “I also saw the emotional and spiritual gut-punch. By playing the role of Jesus, (Gavin Stone is) forced to learn more about (Christ).”
In the end, Jenkins said the film offers an “affectionate look both at the church and at the outsider,” adding his belief that “a good church is a place that you can’t find anywhere else.”
Watch the film’s trailer below:
The director also spoke to the ongoing debate about faith-based films, as some critics claim that these movies simply don’t match up to Hollywood pictures when it comes to both depth and caliber.
The issue, Jenkins said, is that some Christian films are made strictly for the message and, while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it makes it harder to compare them to Hollywood epics.
Jenkins also said he firmly believes “not all films have to be ‘sermons set to film'” and that Christian filmmakers should offer up a variety of genres and types. While these sermon films can be wonderful, he said there still needs to be other types of faith-based films made available to the public.
“My generation wasn’t raised to make great films,” he said. “That’s starting to change.”
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