A Compelling Oddity: Our Review of ‘The Jesus Rolls’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical, VOD/iTunes/DigitalDownload by - February 28, 2020
A Compelling Oddity: Our Review of ‘The Jesus Rolls’

Sometimes things aren’t going to be quite what you think they are…

While it would be completely understandable to mistake The Jesus Rolls as an unofficial sequel to The Big Lebowski please understand straight away that it is not.  In this English language remake of Going Places is more of a sideways piece that paints the Jesus character in a light similar to that of the epitome “Dude” himself.  It’s a mess to be sure, but an oddly compelling one.

The Jesus rolls on. Hours after being released from prison, Jesus Quintana (John Turturro) pairs up with fellow misfits Petey (Bobby Cannavale) and Marie (Audrey Tautou), and embark on a freewheeling joyride of petty crime and romance.

Technically; The Jesus Rolls is more of a remake (A French film from 1974 called Going Places) then a sequel to the beloved The Big Lebowski.  It puts the ‘Jesus’ character into the spot of Lebowski himself as he sets off on a series of ill conceived adventures.  It’s occasionally entertaining, but incredibly chaotic.

With this being the 5th feature underneath the belt of Director John Turturro (who also adapted the French original for the screen) we get an oddly self assured and compelling feature that you kind of need to just sit back and experience rather than try and make sense of it.

It has some genuine flow to it and it moves at a break neck speed (thankfully it’s only 81 minutes) but it’s a film that’s so littered with cameo’s that it’s kind of hard to know how to keep track.  Other then the connection of the character there isn’t a single thing really drawing it to that film.  However in many ways it’s basically just a French New Wave film unfolding somewhere between Coney Island and Upstate New York; it’s Jersey New Wave…if that’s even a thing.  If you go into it all just looking for some silly fun, you can appreciate the free form train of thought that Turturro is trying to take the character on then it does bare a little resemblance to The Big Lebowski as he takes Jesus into ‘Dude’ mode.

If there’s anything that this film truly has going for it is that you can easily tell that this LOADED ensemble cast of people that you just know were asked to do a favor rolled in for their day or two of shooting were actually having FUN while making this.  While Turturro actually does a solid job recapturing ‘Jesus’, Bobby Cannavalle and Audrey Tautou are fine as he main supporting players but as the cavalcade of guest stars that includes Jon Hamm, Susan Sarandon, Pete Davidson, J.B. Smoove, Tim Blake Nelson, Sonia Braga & Christopher Walken all come through, we can at least say that we’re never bored.

Ultimately, The Jesus Rolls ISN’T what you think it (or are hoping that it is) but as a sort of free form piece of art, it’s kind of interesting.  Hardly a sequel or even a sideways continuation of that story, but if you look at it as weird second cousin compared to Lebowski, it’s not without some value.  Just go in with eyes wide open.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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