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Stream It Or Skip It: ‘The Jesus Rolls’ on Showtime, a ‘Big Lebowski’ Spinoff That’s a Dilly-Dallying Farce

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From the Sure, Why Not? Files comes The Jesus Rolls, a Big Lebowski spinoff/Going Places remake, now streaming via Showtime. John Turturro writes and directs, resurrecting his character Jesus Quintana, who you no doubt remember as the flamboyant shit-talking sex-offender bowling-league rival of the Dude, Walter and (STFU) Donny. You know, “You don’t f— with the Jesus,” and all that. Well, he’s back, the Jesus is, for his solo adventure, and if this is the official expansion of the Big Lebowski Cinematic Universe, let it be known that I’d love to script The Further Misadventures of the Nihilists.

The Gist: A prison. Spanish guitar. A man doing pull-ups. A zipper on a jumpsuit. The Jesus is free — but first, he chats with the warden, I dunno why, other than because he’s played by Christopher Walken. We flash back to the infamous “pederast” scene referred to in Lebowski, and learn his offense was more innocent than assumed, thus allowing us to maybe like him instead of loathe him. It had to be done, lest the entire movie exist on shaky ground.

So Jesus leaves prison and is picked up by his best pal Petey (Bobby Cannavale), setting in motion a series of arbitrary events that could only happen when two men very comfortable with petty crime follow no particular plot or plan. Getting a job or finding a place to live isn’t even mentioned, nor is what Petey was doing before all this. It just doesn’t matter. Jeopardy on a scale of featherweight to heavy-featherweight follows, and of course it’s studded with cameos from celeb cast members who seem like they dropped by the set to see friends and ended up with a bit part on a lark.

Jesus and Petey happen upon a muscle car and they jimmy the ignition and take it. A few joyrides later, they return it, and find its owner, a hairdresser played by Jon Hamm, none too pleased and brandishing a revolver. Stupidity then occurs, and Petey gets shot in the ass but they make off with Marie (Audrey Tautou), the hairdresser’s shampoo girl, prostitute and/or girlfriend maybe, who knows for sure, should we give an eff and does it really even matter? Doubtful. At first, the plot seems like it might be a revenge thing for Petey taking a bullet in the glute, but that would require some focus on the part of these characters, and then, it likely wouldn’t involve the Jesus’ mother played by Sonia Braga, an odd woman fresh from incarceration played by Susan Sarandon, or her son, also fresh from incarceration, played by Pete Davidson. It all adds up to something, or nothing, I’m not quite sure, but it’s definitely one of those things.

THE JESUS ROLLS MOVIE
Photo: Everett Collection

What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: Roger Ebert once called Blue in the Face a “footnote” of Smoke, more than a spinoff. The Jesus Rolls has a similar relationship to The Big Lebowski. It also makes a direct Amelie reference, because why else would you cast Tautou in a goof of a comedy film?

Performance Worth Watching: Tautou is charming as a character whose lone trait is that she’s never had an orgasm. Her cheery blankness is effervescent.

Memorable Dialogue: “WE’RE JUST TWO SIMPLE F—HEADS!” — the Jesus doth protest too much

Sex and Skin: Turturro and Cannavale’s butts, Tautou topless, some strong and strangely unsexy schtuppery.

Our Take: As the Dude abides, the Jesus rolls, and it really is true, he just rolls on no matter what happens or he makes happen, seemingly without a single lick of intent or forethought. It’s a carefree existence and that’s the whole point, which might make The Jesus Rolls hard to hang with, it being an utterly plotless farce of light robbery and casual coitus, no boundaries, no rules. Maybe not having a point actually is the point. “This is very… freewheeling,” I thought while watching the film, and before I knew it, an actual free wheel was rolling across the screen, liberated from its axle.

Notably, half the movie occurs before the Jesus tongues a bowling ball, because seeing the man do what he does best functions as a metaphor, and such money shots should be deployed sparingly. What the metaphor is for is beyond me, although I’m pretty sure there’s a metaphor there. At least I hope there is. There very well may not be one, but I will insist there is, because I want there to be one even if I’m not sure of it. Is this how religion works?

Anyhow, enjoy the Jesus’ finest moves again, and the ’60s-via-the-’90s sensibility, and the dilly-dallying and screwing-about that happens in this what-the-hell-is-Susan-Sarandon-doing-in-THIS-movie movie about two fellas (and sometimes a woman) who misfit their way through life and don’t seem to have any traditional sensibilities about feelings and laws, although they don’t want anyone to die. After all, they might represent little more than nothing, but they’re not nihilists.

Our Call: SKIP IT. The movie will definitely compel hardcore Lebowskites to watch it, and I understand that. But if something is anything less than a trifle, The Jesus Rolls is definitely it.

John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Read more of his work at johnserbaatlarge.com or follow him on Twitter: @johnserba.

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Biggest Moments from the 2020 Emmys

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The 2020 Emmys were full of surprises, history-making moments, and more.

The show kicked off like any other year, with host Jimmy Kimmel greeting a room filled with stars. In reality, however, it was just old footage from past shows!

Kimmel said, “Hello, and welcome to the Pand-Emmys! It’s great to finally see people again. Thank you for risking everything to be here, thank me for risking everything to be here. You know what they say, you can’t have a virus without a host.”

Jimmy soon revealed a studio of cardboard cut-outs, the actual stars were watching via Zoom!

The show did have a series of in-person presenters, starting with Jennifer Aniston.

Unfortunately, they had to “burn off” all the germs on the presenters’ card. The paper went up in flames and had to be dropped into a garbage can, and Jen had to grab a fire extinguisher to put it out!

ABC

Shortly after, “Schitt’s Creek” began its history-making sweep! Catherine O’Hara, who played the family matriarch Moira Rose, won Outstanding Lead Actress and her TV husband Eugene Levy aka Johnny Rose won Outstanding Lead Actor. On-screen siblings Daniel Levy (David Rose) and Annie Murphy (Alexis Rose) took home the supporting Emmys… but it doesn’t end there!

Dan won Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, and shared a win for Outstanding Director for a Comedy with Andrew Cividino. The show’s biggest win of the night, of course, was for Outstanding Comedy.

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ABC

The sweep started on Saturday at the Creative Arts Emmys, as the show nabbed Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series and Outstanding Contemporary Costumes.

Meanwhile, “Succession” won Outstanding drama, and “Euphoria” star Zendaya took home Outstanding Actress and “Succession” star Jeremy Strong nabbed Outstanding Actor.

There were other surprises, too, like David Letterman presenting Outstanding Variety Talk Series. The video clip showed the former late-night titan dropped off in the middle of nowhere, claiming to be wearing the same tux he wore when he hosted the Emmys in 1986.

Conveniently, he found a list of old jokes in the pocket and there were some zingers, like this one: “What a great-looking crowd, so many stars, so much cocaine. Is this the Emmys or the Mets locker room?”

In another Emmy first, the winner of the category, John Oliver, was treated to an Emmy that popped out of a box!

Meanwhile, nominees Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington met up with friends for an outdoor viewing party… that doubled as a New Year’s celebration! Decked out in 2021 glasses and hats and armed with champagne, Reese told Jimmy, “We are ready for this year to be over.” As they counted down to the New Year, she added, “Who even knows what day it is?”

Reese and Kerry told each other, “I wish I could kiss you,” but when Kimmel quipped, “I wish I could kiss you, too,” Kerry joked, “We don’t want that!”

The Emmys also gave fans an inside look at what the stars have been up to at home during the pandemic, like Chris Harrison trimming roses and Tatiana Maslany making wine in her toilet. The segment ended with David Spade going full “Tiger King” as Joe Exotic behind bars!

Then there was the “Friends” reunion! Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox and Lisa Kudrow met up to watch the ceremony, joking with Jimmy that they’ve been roommates since 1994. They even had a Zoom crasher… Jason Bateman!

On a more serious note, Emmy winners Regina King and Uzo Aduba both wore Breonna Taylor shirts to honor the 26-year-old who was shot to death by police earlier this year. Anthony Anderson also gave a speech about Black Lives Matter, saying, “This was supposed to be the Blackest Emmys ever… but because of COVID, we couldn’t even get into the building… This isn’t what it should have been, but I’m still rooting for everybody Black because Black stories, Black performances, and Black Lives Matter!”

Tyler Perry also gave a moving speech as he accepted the Governors Award. Recalling how his grandmother gave him a quilt she’d made when he was 19 years old, he said that he initially saw no value in it. Years later, he came across a similar quilt in a shop and learned something that gave him some perspective. “It was made by an African-American woman who was a former slave,” he discovered, “and each patch in the quilt she had put in represented a part of her life.”

He went on, “As I was hearing this story, I became so embarrassed. Here I was a person who prized myself on celebrating our heritage, our culture, and I didn’t even recognize the value in my grandmother’s quilt. I dismissed her work and her story because it didn’t look like what I thought it should… We are all sewing our own quilts with our thoughts and our behaviors and our experiences and our memories.”

Relating it to a childhood memory, he said his mother once told him, “Don’t you ever stand by a door waiting for white folks to do nothing for you.”

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ABC

He explained, “My mother wasn’t a racist, but in her quilt… she couldn’t imagine me actually building my own door and holding that door open for thousands of people. In my mother’s quilt, she couldn’t imagine me owning land that was once a Confederate Army base where Confederate soldiers planned about how to keep Blacks enslaved. And now Black people, white people, gay, straight, lesbian, transgender, ex-cons, Latin, Asian, all of us working, coming together to add patches to a quilt that is as diverse as it can be. Diversity at its best.”

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See All the Celebrity Parents Who Have Had Twinning Style Moments With Their Kids

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BET And Tracy Yvonne Productions Announce Winner Of ‘Project Cre8’

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On Monday (September 21), BET and Tracy Yvonne Productions announced the winner of its nationwide competition, “Project CRE8.” After a nine-month-long search and hundreds of submissions, Thaddeus McCants from Madison, WI was crowned the “PROJECT CRE8” winner. In partnership with powerhouse writer/director/producer Tracy Oliver (First Wives Club, Girls Trip, Little), “Project CRE8” gave aspiring and emerging TV writers the opportunity to develop an original comedy for the small screen. The contest culminated Thursday, September 17, where the five finalists pitched their original TV comedy to Tracy Oliver, Connie Orlando and a panel of successful TV executives. McCants’ original TV script, “Lit Lounge,” rose to the top of the heap and was selected the winning script. “Lit Lounge” is a satire on marijuana’s transition from Schedule-I drug to corporate commodity and follows a young Black man’s troubled climb to the top of the legal world of weed. BET will purchase McCants’ TV script for $25K and work with him to develop a comedy series with Oliver’s Tracy Yvonne Productions. 

“Project CRE8 is a program that showcases BET’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, and its longstanding support of emerging talent from the creative community,” said Connie Orlando, EVP Specials, Music Programming & Music Strategy, BET. “I’m incredibly proud of our ongoing dedication to revealing the excellence of untapped producers, writers, and directors of color with a platform for them to be seen and heard. I am thrilled to partner with Tracy Yvonne Productions to tell a compelling original story and welcome Thaddeus’ fresh and comedic perspective to the BET family.”

“We loved Thaddeus’ fresh voice and script and are excited to bring it to life with our partners at BET,” said Tracy Oliver.

About the “PROJECT CRE8” Winner Thaddeus McCants:

McCants is a Brooklyn-based playwright and television writer originally from Madison, Wisconsin. He is currently pursuing his MFA in Playwriting at NYU, where he is a Tisch Graduate Scholarship Award Recipient; he also holds a BFA in Acting from Ithaca College. His Comedy pilot ‘Lit Lounge’ is a finalist for the 2020 Yes, And Laughter Lab partnered with Comedy Central and 3Arts; His Sci-Fi pilot about the Flint water crisis ‘What Doesn’t Kill Us…’ was a semi-finalist for the 2020 ATX Pitch Competition sponsored by Sundance and The Black List, and his 30-Minute Comedy ‘Fakers’ has won festivals on both coasts. As a performer, he was in the original cast of the Disney’s ‘Freaky Friday the Musical’, working with Tony winners Christopher Ashley and Sergio Trujillo and has worked with HBO, MTV, and was a member of UCB NY (RIP) where he performed with his Lloyd team The Hometown Tigers.

For more information on “PROJECT CRE8,” go to BET.com/Cre8. Join the conversation on social media by using and following the hashtag #ProjectCRE8.

 

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