The Resurrection of Gavin Stone

The Resurrection of Gavin Stone is a faith-based film that tells a predictable but fun story of a washed-up child actor who must confront his Hollywood past, while at the same time playing Jesus in order to impress a girl. Thanks to the financial and talent backing of WWE Studios, this low-budget story of salvation is transformed into a professional touching and funny movie.

Release Date: January 20, 2017
Writer: Andrea Gyertson Nasfell
Director: Dallas Jenkins
Cast: Brett Dalton

Gavin Stone (Brett Dalton) is a former child actor, who lost his way as a young adult. After trashing a hotel room, Gavin finds himself needing to complete 80 hours of community service or jail. Inconvenienced by this pause in his career, Gavin is forced to return to his hometown near Chicago and work at the local church.

The church’s pastor, Allen Richardson (D.B. Sweeney) is a good honest pastor, who sees behind Stone’s desire to simply fulfill his hours. Seeing that Stone needs to keep his high-profile persona low profile, Richardson puts Stone on janitorial duty. While cleaning the women’s bathroom, Stone meets Kelly (Anjelah Johnson-Reyes), who runs the children’s ministry and also happens to be the director of the church’s passion play.

Seizing the opportunity to act instead of cleaning bathrooms, Stone immediately auditions for the role of Jesus. Since only Christians can audition for the play, Stone quickly searches Google to help put his Christian “testimony” together. Stone manages to impress the crowd with his testimony, except for Kelly, who is quickly revealed as the pastor’s daughter and remains skeptical of Stone’s motives.

Returning to his hometown, Stone also has demons to face and Stone’s demon is his estranged father, Waylon (Neil Flynn). Gavin and his father have not spoken since the death of Gavin’s mother/Waylon’s wife. Having no money, Gavin is forced to ask his father if he can live in his childhood home for the duration of his community service.

The Resurrection of Gavin Stone is a sweet, funny story of faith. It is by no means groundbreaking, but the script is solid and extremely predictable. Everything ends as it should and lives are changed. Predictability is not bad provided the journey to the end is entertaining.

For a faith movie to have the backing of the sport entertainment company, WWE Studios and the horror film studio Blumhouse, means that the film has a bigger budget and access to actors, who would not otherwise appear in a faith film. The Resurrection of Gavin Stone benefits from its star power to provide amazing performances. Let’s put it this way, good actors reduce the number of “eye-roll” moments commonly associated with faith films.

As the lead character Gavin Stone, Brett Dalton seems to be born to play this role. He brings the range necessary as the conflicted actor, which many in the faith film genre would have a hard time pulling off. Stand-up comedian, Anjelah Johnson-Reyes is also great as the pastor’s daughter but stern leader.

As with all movies about churches, there are the goofy church members and The Resurrection of Gavin Stone has plenty. Funny are Tim Franks, who plays the nerdy John Mark and Patrick Gagnon as the no-it-all Anthony. Of course, the reason I went to see this movie was to see one of my favorite wrestlers, Shawn Michaels as the former con, Doug.

If you’re a fan of faith-based movies, The Resurrection of Gavin Stone is a fun movie and worth seeing. It’s safe for the whole family. The church scenes are real and somewhat eye-opening when you see church through the eyes of the unchurched Gavin Stone. It does what all feel good movies should do…make you feel good.

7 out of 10 stars

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