The unlikely friendship that kindles between a struggling stand-up comedian from L.A., forced to move back home with his tail between his legs, and a tragically flawed, but charming and charismatic, alcoholic dermatologist.
John Turturro plays Jesus Quintana in 'Going Places,' a film about a trio of misfits whose irreverent, sexually charged dynamic evolves into a surprising love story as their spontaneous and flippant attitude towards the past or future backfires time and again, even as they inadvertently perform good deeds. When they make enemies with a gun-toting hairdresser, their journey becomes one of constant escape from the law, from society and from the hairdresser, all while the bonds of their outsider family strengthen.
It took me quite a while before getting around to watching The Big Lebowski, but a lot of time has passed since then and it's probably one of the better comedies and films in general that I've seen. For that reason alone I was looking forward to what John Turturro was working on, called The Jesus Rolls. I wasn't sure why he was working on this, but I was curious to see some sort of extension of The Big Lebowski lore. I had no idea what to expect and had pretty much no expectations, as the original creative team didn't return and sadly, that's very much apparent. Even if you're a fan of The Big Lebowski, here's why I believe you should skip this one.
In the film The Big Lebowski, there are a couple of moments when a character by the name of Jesus Quintana is seen. Being his odd self, licking bowling balls and being the butt of jokes from both Jeff Bridges and John Goodman, he really seemed like a throwaway character. Well, John Turturro, who portrays this character, decided to pen a script and direct a film based solely on his character. The Jesus Rolls is about Jesus Quintana, plain and simple. That's about as much plot as this film gives you. It becomes a buddy road trip between him and Petey (Bobby Cannavale), eventually introducing Jean (Susan Sarandon), which turns the film into a sex romp.
This film is a bizarre series of events that really leads to nothing. It begins on a decent note, following Jesus after he has been released from prison for accusations that happened in the film The Big Lebowski. The first few scenes had me chuckling, but after a while, it just seemed like this film had no narrative whatsoever. Now, I'm a huge fan of those kinds of films, but only when they have a purpose and are done well. Richard Linklater is the king of this style and while I don't want to unfairly compare this movie to the likes of those when thinking about what the purpose of this film was, it's kind of hard not to.
There are several scenes where Jesus and Petey both have feelings for Jean and there are some very odd scenes that come from that, but if that's what Turturro was going for, mission accomplished I guess. This whole movie felt strange to me and not it the strange ways that made The Big Lebowski so great. On top of feeling strange, and I don't mean any disrespect to John Turturro here, but the direction of this film just felt incredibly standard. Many still shots where things would happen out of frame and scenes that were probably done in a few takes to move along. I liked the cast, but it really wasn't enough to save this movie for me.
The Jesus Rolls clocks in at a mere 87 minutes, but it felt like nearly two hours. With this character, I feel that a truly great comedy could've come from this if the Coen Brothers, who wrote the original film, returned for this one. This is just a road trip film that has very little to do with The Big Lebowski and very little to say in its own right. If you told me that John Turturro rewrote a screenplay for this character, that was originally an original road trip/hangout movie, I wouldn't bat an eye. I enjoyed these characters, but they're in a film that I just couldn't invest myself in. I really can't find anything to recommend about it.
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