Cast: John Turturro, Bobby Cannavale, Audrey Tautao, Pete Davidson
Director: John Turturro
Before I truly start to write this review, I want to reiterate one of my most common points I make in these reviews. To any and all future filmmakers, if you want to invest yourself in a passion project, please make sure it has a purpose and isn’t just being made to be made. This seems like the case with The Jesus Rolls and as much as Turturro likes his character, I don’t think it’s necessary to dedicate an entire movie to him. Unnecessary and crude for the sake of being crude, The Jesus Rolls is a puzzling way to spend 85 minutes and something that die-hard fans of the source material will be left disappointed with.
The film follows Jesus Quintana (Turturro), a character from The Big Lebowski who has just gotten out of jail and is trying to adapt to life in the free world. Very quickly though, he goes right back to his life of crime with his friend Petey (Cannavale) and their friend Marie (Tautao) and they travel across the country stealing cars and doing whatever they please. Naturally the people impacted by these actions aren’t exactly thrilled and the trio must deal with the fallout of their actions. Now admittedly I’ve never seen The Big Lebowski, but I know from the presence it has in pop culture that it has a wide fan-base who absolutely adore the movie. I don’t know who would walk away from The Jesus Rolls with that same kind of feeling. It almost feels as though this movie plays on a loop. Jesus and Petey get in trouble, Jesus and Petey talk about sex, Jesus and Petey have sex, Jesus and Petey get in trouble again, and so on and so forth. I’m not exactly a nun, but part of how this type of humor works is with an ounce of subtlety or tact and that’s missing from this movie. This gets boring in The Hangover, but in this situation it really dials it up a notch where it becomes incredibly annoying and pointless. The plot jumps all over the place and when you think you have a general understanding of things, everything shifts again. I know this isn’t Turturro’s first rodeo, so by now he should know what makes a movie successful and what doesn’t. This movie has an absolutely stacked cast and has no right being as bad as it ended up being. Maybe the difference between having the Coen Brothers write your movie and having Turturro write it caused this drop off, but I don’t think anyone was expecting things to get this bad. It’s a shame for Turturro since he very clearly cares about this character, but just because the passion’s there doesn’t mean the skill is. As much as I want to see these actors succeed in a movie like this, I can’t give The Jesus Rolls a free pass for these mishaps when they had all the potential in the world to do more.
Overall, The Jesus Rolls may have an audience out there, so I hope they got more out of this movie than I did. It’s tough to sit back and try to truly understand what Turturro was trying to accomplish here, and even if he didn’t get the critical success he was looking for, I hope he enjoyed playing the character one more time. I don’t think he imagined his movie being the gigantic flop that it was, but he gave it a shot and it didn’t work out for him this time. The Jesus Rolls isn’t good. Point blank. But there may be someone out there who enjoys this type of movie, so to them I say give it a go and see what happens.
Overall Score: 3/10