Jesus' Son (1999) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

It's an interesting movie. Not a mass-market film, but an artistic little flick about addiction. Billy Crudup plays an essentially twerpy and compassionate guy named Fuckhead, who screws up everything he touches like an anti-Midas, and who somehow ends up in the drug world. This film simply portrays his odyssey through that place and time (70's).
The film doesn't glamorize or demonize the drug scene, so it contains elements which are frighteningly destructive, others which are comical from an outsider's viewpoint, others which are pleasant and interesting. This is, of course, how most of us 60's stoners remember our young druggie days - some interesting memories, some exquisite passion, some crazy hijinks, and also a lot of tears, and a lot of lives ruined. Like everything else, the reality is shaded in greys and nuanced subtly. Of course, we're never honest when discussing these matters with our children. How can we confess that we have some nostalgia for the days when we got high? No, we have to be responsible parents. So we lie to them, as our parents lied to us, and as they will lie to their children, and simply declare that drugs are a worse horror than any ever conceived by Vlad the Impaler.


Samantha Morton did a dead nude scene, as Crudup dragged her lifeless body.

Holly Hunter was seen topless in a sex scene.

One other woman was seen parasailing naked (and possibly pregnant)

Well, this movie doesn't really have anything to preach. It looks at the scene quite dispassionately, milking out all the humor it can find along the way, but not ignoring the harm done to the drug takers and the people that love them.

The film is based on a series of loosely connected short stories, and it retains that same feel of vignettes which are related but not sequential or causal.

They attracted some talented people to work on this project. Billy Crudup, Denis Leary, Holly Hunter, Dennis Hopper, Samantha Morton, Jack Black, and some others must have worked pretty much for free on this film, which never made it to as many as 100 screens, and took in only about a million at the box.

Although I really enjoyed a few scenes and a few of the minor characters, especially Jack Black, I never really got drawn into this movie, either emotionally or cerebrally.

By the way, it has finally dawned on me that Jack Black is the reincarnation of John Belushi. The eyebrows, the body, the manic energy, the combination of vulnerability and cynicism, the ability to portray the drugged-out state. I don't know why it took me so long to see it. All those stabs he took at ignoramuses with no musical taste in "High Fidelity" should immediately have reminded me of Belushi destroying Stephen Bishop's guitar in "Animal House". I nominate Black the next time they want to try a Belushi biopic.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 2.35:1

  • No features except a trailer

Whoever Crudup's agent is, Billy should give him a bonus. A few months ago, when I first saw this film, I had no idea who Crudup was. Since then I've seen him play leads in Almost Famous, Waking the Dead, and this film, so for about six months there, in late 99 early 2000, this guy was getting more work than Michael Caine, and all choice leads.

With his good looks and his likeable non-threatening persona, he seems to be on a fast track to stardom.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: three stars plus. Ebert gave the film 3.5 stars, Berardinelli gave it three. That could fool you. This is the type of movie that critics like more than casual moviegoers.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: 7.4 out of 10. IMDB viewers liked it as much as the critics. Pretty impressive score for an indie with explicit nudity and drug use.
  • With their dollars ... Despite excellent reviews and name stars, it received just slightly more than arthouse distribution - grossed $1.2 million from a maximum of 95 screens.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a B-.

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