Combustible Celluloid
Stream it:
Download at i-tunes iTunes
Own it:
With: John Turturro, Bobby Cannavale, Audrey Tautou, Susan Sarandon, Pete Davidson, Jon Hamm, J.B. Smoove, Christopher Walken, Tim Blake Nelson, Margaret Reed, Michael Badalucco, Sonia Braga
Written by: John Turturro, based on a screenplay by Bertrand Blier, and on characters created by Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Directed by: John Turturro
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content, language throughout and brief nudity
Running Time: 85
Date: 02/28/2020

The Jesus Rolls (2020)

1 Star (out of 4)

Bowl Asylum

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This baffling, unfunny total misfire of a movie feels like a weird, embarrassing, uncomfortable dream one might have after watching The Big Lebowski and eating a large pizza just before going to bed.

In The Jesus Rolls, Jesus Quintana (John Turturro) is released from prison. His friend Petey (Bobby Cannavale) picks him up. They cross paths with an egotistical hairdresser (Jon Hamm) and steal his car, and Petey is shot in the leg. They pick up Marie (Audrey Tautou), drive around, and occasionally have sex.

When the police appear at a restaurant, Jesus and Petey ditch Marie and then pick up a woman (Susan Sarandon) that has just been released from prison. Later, they pick up the woman's son (Pete Davidson), also from prison, and introduce him to Marie. This leads to an act of violence that sends Jesus, Petey, and Marie on the run. They steal another car and face an ironic retribution.

With The Jesus Rolls, writer and director John Turturro understandably wished to revisit his Jesus Quintana character, the bowler who stole a few small scenes in Joel and Ethan Coen's 1998 film. But what isn't understandable is why Turturro decided to tell Jesus's story in the form of a remake of Bertrand Blier's Going Places (1974), a French movie very much of its time about hippies, unrestrained sex, boredom, and crime. Aside from its "what were they thinking?" factor, the movie trudges along without much of a pace, or a point.

Astonishingly, Turturro assembled a great cast for this dud, including Christopher Walken, J.B. Smoove, Tim Blake Nelson, Sonia Braga, and Michael Badalucco. The crime elements in the movie are without suspense or moral compass. At one point, a doctor fixes Petey's leg, and then, before departing, Jesus steals the doctor's cash; the scene just has a hazy, detached quality.

The pre-AIDS themes of sexual freedom, and especially themes of women needing men to bring them to ecstasy, seem positively prehistoric in the #MeToo era. A wandering, searching movie about today might have been interesting, but The Jesus Rolls remains stuck in both the 1970s and the 1990s without much of a clue.

Movies Unlimtied