The Resurrection of Gavin Stone full movie review - It's Fridge Worthy
In a word, Resurrection of Gavin Stone is "cute". It's a low stakes, lower budget, feel-good film that thinks thinks its giving you the world when really its just giving you a breezy, disposable and pleasant little ride.
It wouldn't fit comfortably on any serious film fan's top favorites but I could see it left up on someone's refrigerator.
Brett Dalton of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013-Present) fame plays our titular character Gavin Stone; a former child star whose emotional baggage has gotten him an heap of recent trouble. When we first meet the swarthy Gavin he's weighing the pros and cons of going to jail for a few weeks or doing 200 hours of community service at a local megachurch. He chooses the latter and in the process stumbles into a the role of a lifetime in the church's annual Passion play. To play the role of Jesus Christ however, Gavin Stone has to pretend to be a true Christian - a guise he struggles to keep as he butts heads with the play's stringent director Kelly (Johnson-Reyes).
Easily the best parts of Gavin Stone are the gentle, humorous cultural exchanges between Gavin and the gaggle of Christians who naively fall for his born-again routine. Gavin tries to put the wool over their eyes (at least as much as a non-drinking, non-swearing, non-Christian can) but finds himself comforted by their humility and grace. When his conversion begins in earnest, he goofs and falters, much like any foreigner to a new church would. The exchanges are not just one way either. When two side characters stumble over their lines for the upcoming play, Gavin helpfully supplies them with some simple acting exercises.
Yet all the well-meaning moments never amount to much. For all of the film's attempts to label Stone as a flagrantly debased bad boy, he hardly does anything to deserve such a moniker. His main source of consternation, his strained relationship with his father (Flynn) provides very little in the way of actual stakes let alone honest human conflict. Combined with his immediate willingness to help people he barely knows and there seems to be nothing about him to resurrect. He's simply a nice guy whose slight narcissism can easily be cured by a four hour church service. Blame it on the film's devotion for a PG rating I guess.
The artificial quaintness of Gavin Stone becomes even more embarrassing when it wades into waters far beyond its depth. Questions of salvation, atonement and grace are answered with fortune-cookie wisdom, chintzy rom-com clichés and the continual insistence that Christian values are somehow a rarity in today's day and age. When Stone finally sees the light, as it were, we're made privy to a testimonial that exploits Christ in the most spurious of ways. An act that would be downright insulting if it weren't so sophomoric.
Yet its hard to truly dislike a movie that pushes pious humility through uniformly charming characters. The fact that Gavin Stone partially succeeds while proselytizing from a megachurch pulpit should be considered a miracle within itself. I cannot argue whether the film will prove entertaining for the unconverted but at least true-blue born-agains have a movie that's of objectively better quality than the God's Not Dead (2014-Present) movies.