Gavin Stone is a former child star who has been coddled his entire life and is now a mainstay in the headlines as an adult – for all the wrong reasons.
In fact, a recent run-in with the law landed him in a mega-church to fulfill a community service requirement, which at first involves working as a janitor but soon includes starring as Jesus in the church’s Passion Play after he deceives everyone into thinking he is a Christian.
The Resurrection of Gavin Stone (PG) opens in theaters this weekend, telling the hilarious but moving story of Stone, a smooth-talker who chases worldliness and fame but soon discovers that a 2,000-year-old message is what his life has been missing.
It stars Brett Dalton as Stone and Anjelah Johnson-Reyes as Kelly, the play’s director and the girl he’s chasing. WWE star Shawn Michaels has a role as Brett’s friend, Doug.
The faith-based comedy is the first theatrical release from Vertical Church Films, a ministry of James MacDonald’s church, Harvest Bible Chapel. If Resurrection of Gavin Stone is anything like future films from Vertical Church, moviegoers are in for a treat.
Dalton and Johnson-Reyes shine in their performances, and the comedy delivers without being sacrilegious. (Asked to give his testimony for admittance into rehearsals, Stone strings together a series of clichés – such as “let go and let God” – that had me laughing out loud.)
It is easily one of the funniest films I’ve seen in recent years, and it does it without the sexuality and profanity that is prevalent in modern-day comedies.
But, like any good comedy, Resurrection of Gavin Stone is more than just a movie full of laughs. It’s a good story.
It delivers a subtle message about our society’s infatuation with entertainment. (For example, why do we constantly chase after temporal things that are here today and gone tomorrow?)
It reminds us that everyone – even washed-up child stars we’ve all forgotten – can get a new start on life. (The pastor tells him: “We really do believe in second chances, but they’re not to be taken lightly.”)
But perhaps the makers of Resurrection of Gavin Stone succeeded most was by giving us a film that can be enjoyed by Christians and non-Christians alike. Stone, after all, is an outsider looking in. Sure, some of the things he says are for comedic relief, but much of what he thinks would mirror what a non-churchgoer would believe.
“The Resurrection of Gavin Stone” is rated PG for thematic elements including a crucifixion image.
Entertainment rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 5 out of 5 stars.