If you’re a fan of The Big Lebowski, you may remember a minor character named Jesus, played by John Turturo. His sole appearance in the infamous bowling scene is distinctly memorable. Everything from his slow-motion ritual of licking the ball, his celebration dance and his short interaction with Lebowski’s bowling team make his character intriguing and hilarious.
Fortunately enough for the Jesus fans, his character received its own fully-fledged movie. With a 4 million dollar budget and a gargantuan cast including John Turturro, Bobby Cannavale and John Hamm, The Jesus Rolls seemed poised for success right from the beginning. However, its performance was abysmal on multiple levels. The Jesus Rolls made a negligible sixty-five thousand dollars in the box office and scored an impressive twenty-one percent on rotten tomatoes.
The movie did so badly, in fact, that I was unaware of its existence until stumbling upon its trailer on Youtube. I was intrigued by its hilarious premise, ridiculous characters, but most of all, the reintroduction of the classic bowling ball lick. So of course, I had to check it out.
You might be surprised to hear that The Jesus Rolls, despite its terrible reception, is one of my favorite movies of all time. In fact, it disappoints me to see its performance. I truly believe that this movie is a fascinating social commentary, even if it is hidden in its meandering plot and awkward romances.
The movie follows the adventures of a character named Jesus (pronounced like the biblical figure), an accused pedophile, who meets up with his best friend Petey following his release from prison. The story is a confusing, twisted, meandering sequence of events, full of crazy detours and sidetracks. In fact, there are only a few things that remain consistent throughout the movie: its apparent lack of a substantial plot, terribly awkward sexual energy and tragic deaths.
Although it seems strange, this movie’s lack of direct plot development gives its internal developments a cool, meandering quality that will, at the very least, keep you interested throughout the entire movie. As the characters bounce from one setting to the next, John Turturro’s character becomes something of its own entity. His carefree nature and lack of restraint allows him to constantly ride a delicate edge between your favorite anti-hero and an easily despised low-life.
Ultimately, it is impossible to describe the depth at which The Jesus Rolls manipulates and confuses. Trying to grasp any sort of coherent message is like chasing a butterfly through a field; entertaining but ultimately impossible. It is this exact quality that had me on the edge of my seat and laughing out loud at every ridiculous turn.
For the past months, I have passionately ranted about this movie to all of my friends. So what is my final verdict? I cannot recommend this movie enough. If you do choose to watch it, I give my personal guarantee that you will at least be entertained for the entire hour and twenty minutes of absurdity.