(director/writer: Jon Erwin/Brent McCorkle; screenwriters: Jon Gunn/Jon Erwin/based on the book by Pastor Greg Laurie; Akiscinematographer: Akis Konstantakopoulos; editor: John Puckett; music: McCorkle; cast: Joel Courtney (Greg Laurie), Jonathan Roumie (Lonnie Frisbee), Ally Ioannides (Janette), Kelsey Grammer (Chuck Smith), Nicholas Bishop (Dick), Anna Grace Barlow (Cathe), Kimberly Williams-Paisley (Charlene), DeVon Franklin (Josiah), Julia Campbell (Kay), Erin Schaut (Janis Joplin); Runtime: 120; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Jon Erwin/Andrew Erwin/Kevin Downes/Jerilyn Esquibel/Greg Laurie/Josh Walsh/Daryl C. Lefever; Lionsgate; 2023)

“The result is a stifling, corny and sentimental narrative.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The film’s title comes from the 1971 cover story in Time Magazine.
Jon Erwin (“The Jesus Music”) and Brent McCorkle (“Unconditional”) co-direct this faith-based Christian film that’s based on a book by Pastor Greg Laurie about a time and place in America, in the late 1960s in California, when some Christians were kinder than now and welcomed hippies into their community. Nevertheless its preaching and messaging will probably not suit the more dug in secular viewer looking for a more agenda-free movie and shouldn’t make the hypocritical church-goer feel any good over a feel-good experiment that was doomed from the start.

The story revolves around the searching pastor (Kelsey Grammer), who relates to his teenage daughter (Ally Ioannides), by telling her the youth are a spiritless generation who live by the mantra “turn on, tune in and drop out” and in protesting the unpopular Vietnam War. Because the population is dwindling in his Calvary Chapel church, he welcomes a charismatic hippie preacher (Jonathan Roumie) into his congregation despite some objections from his traditional worshipers.

Meanwhile the military school student, the teenager Greg Laurie (Joel Courtney), is trying to be hip to the changing times and still be considered a faithful Christian, as he welcomes the changes in society as he lusts after the hippie chick Cathe (Anna Grace Barlow) and thereby attends the same counter-culture events she does.

The religious film never gets over that its pushy and hardly open-minded, as it tries to fit a square peg into a round hole. The result is a stifling, corny and sentimental narrative.