The Jesus Rolls Review

The Jesus Rolls
Fresh out of jail, Jesus Quintana (John Turturro) joins fellow reprobates Petey (Bobby Cannavale) and Marie (Audrey Tautou) on a freewheeling joyride of petty crime and sex.

by Nick De Semlyen |
Published on

A small but memorable part of cult ‘90s slacker comedy The Big Lebowski, the purple-clad, ball-licking Jesus Quintana is now the focus of his own film. It’s a bit like getting a Spider solo movie decades after GoodFellas, or a Pulp Fiction spin-off all about Christopher Walken trying to collect gold watches. And The Jesus Rolls (which is directed by the man who plays Quintana, John Turturro) is, indeed, a strange proposition.

We pick up his story in prison, with Jesus bidding farewell to the prison warden (who’s played, funnily enough, by Christopher Walken; magnetic but barely on-screen), before picking up the thin threads of his life. The first chunk of the tale is vaguely irritating, since almost everything Quintana says and does is a callback to Lebowski (yes, he threatens to put a gun up somebody’s behind and pull the trigger ’til it goes click). Then, after a hasty skit explaining that our hero is not actually a paedophile, as implied by the original film, it becomes more interesting, as it ditches the fan-service and morphs into a fairly faithful remake of a 1974 French film, Going Places. Jon Hamm pops up as a smarmy barber, Bobby Cannavale becomes a key supporting character as Jesus’ felonious friend Petey, and Audrey Tautou joins the latter duo as a nymphomaniac love interest, Marie.

The subsequent shenanigans are unpredictable and often bizarre (a key plot development revolves around the penis of a character played by Pete Davidson), but it’s undeniably a bit of a mess, with big-name comedians turning up but getting nary a funny thing to do, and Jesus’ Lebowski lustre slowly ebbing away. The sexual politics are also more than a little queasy, with the lusty Marie retaining very much the vibe of a character from the early ’70s. It’s unclear why Turturro doggedly held onto the dream of making this film for so long: we won’t mark it zero, but it’s a long way from a strike.

It’s not hard to tell that this Big Lebowski spin-off involved neither Coen Brother. Fair play to Turturro for going in such a strange direction, and assembling a pretty killer cast, but it’s unlikely to satisfy even the most ardent Quintana enthusiast.
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