Culture

Movie Review: Electric Jesus

Electric Jesus is a coming-of-age comedy about the rise and fall of 316, a fictional teenage Christian hair metal band in the mid-80s. It debuted on digital and on-demand November 2nd and stars Judd Nelson and Brian Baumgartner (The Office.) I was sent a free movie code to watch it and some fun movie swag (photos below) but all opinions are my own.

Almost Famous with Dash of Sunday School

With a rock band, bus tour and young narrator/sound man covering the antics of band members on tour, you can’t help but compare Electric Jesus with Almost Famous. But this is where the similarities end, because this band happens to be a Christian hair metal band and the only person they want to make more famous is Jesus.

It’s the summer of 1986 and local band 316 is approached by a flashy (and slightly sleazy) promoter that wants to take them on tour. Brian Baumgartner quite convincingly plays the tour manager, who sets them up with a tour bus and schedule and they hit the road with sound guy Erik, who is the one telling the story. What follows is typical teen antics, some complications with adding a new female member, the highs and lows of rock-n-roll life and a whole lot of screeching metal songs about God.

I was sent some fun Electric Jesus promo gear that emphasizes their focus on the music, including an actual album and full-length CD with music from the movie:

The shirt references a part of the movie where they show up to play a non-Christian heavy metal show where they were mistakenly booked at “Three Sick Teens” rather than 316. (It did not go well) Things sort of steadily decline after that and in the end, the band never makes it big. That’s not a spoiler- it’s referenced in the official description as “the story of a band that never quite makes it.”

So What Did I Think?

To be honest, I found a lot of the movie slightly cringey. But what coming-of-age movie isn’t cringey at times? However, I never listened to Christian metal and wasn’t really a fan of the music, so the extra long performance scenes were a bit much. And I wasn’t sure at first if they were making fun of the church people, or if that’s how they really are. I read a few other reviews to see if it was mentioned and it seems their hearts were in the right place and it wasn’t a parody.

According to Common Sense Media, “While it’s a faith-based movie with characters trying to live by the Bible’s teachings, the comedy and period-accurate music make this relatively more accessible to secular audiences than typical Christian entertainment offerings.”

As a person in that secular audience, all the over-zealous religion just kind of made it weird to me. I did enjoy the ’80s references though, like one particular scene where Erik asks a girl if she wants a “suicide,” which every 80s kid knows is all the Slurpee flavors mixed together. There were a few laughs here and there, but overall I had kind of a hard time getting through it. However, if you happen to be a fan of Christian metal, you are absolutely going to love this one!

Check out the trailer and see what you think:

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About the Author

Candy Keane is a digital content creator and long-time cosplayer, most well-known for being on the cover of the Star Wars documentary Jedi Junkies. After making costumes professionally for over a decade, she now writes about about geek culture and mom life, and continues to cosplay for fun, while sharing her love of costumes on Instagram @SewGeekMama. Her first children’s book, I’m Going to My First Comic Convention, was published in 2020 and won a Story Monsters Approved award for Excellence in Literature.

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