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The faith-promoting comedy-drama "The Resurrection of Gavin Stone" is pretty lifeless as a comedy, but earns back some charm as an earnest drama.
Brett Dalton, formerly of "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," plays the title character, a washed-up former child star arrested after another screw-up, this time in his hometown near Chicago. Gavin opts to serve out his 200 hours of community service at a local megachurch, overseen by a kindly pastor, Allen (D.B. Sweeney), while moving back into his old house with his estranged dad (Neil Flynn, from "The Middle").
When Gavin, not thrilled with cleaning church bathrooms, sees the church is mounting a production of the Passion, he auditions for the role of Jesus. He gets the role, having lied about being a Christian to get it, and immediately butts heads with the show's director, Kelly (Angela Johnson-Reyes), who's also the pastor's daughter.
Director Dallas Jenkins and screenwriter Andrea Nasfell try to generate laughs out of Gavin's cluelessness about church culture, but the jokes are less likely to elicit chuckles than smiles of recognition. As the story unfolds, and Gavin's spiritual awakening kicks in, the movie's sincerity will deliver the uplift this movie's target audience is seeking.
'The Resurrection of Gavin Stone'
Opens Friday, Jan. 20, at area theaters; rated PG for thematic elements including a crucifixion image; 92 minutes.