If you can vibe with its earnest absurdism and sorta-intentional badness, Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway is a hell of a trip.
“In a way, cult cinema has spent a lot of its time stuck in a very [adult swim] mode where its various creatives go about recycling the detritus of their childhoods in the 1980s with a snarky meta-cynicism. Which isn’t inherently bad, for the record, but it does make things rather one-note and mildly desperate, hoping for that brief hit of memed virality rather than having a genuine spark of creative energy, and causes me to approach films like Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway (a title that turns out to be truth in advertising) with a defensive scepticism. After all, there’s a difference between trying too hard because you have so many ideas you passionately want to include and trying too hard because you’re just throwing shit at a wall and seeing if any of it sticks; one is charming whilst the other is tiring, and it can take a while to figure out which one a film falls into.
Llansó’s partly-crowdfunded festival-beloved film may seem like the latter of those two categories, but in practice lands a lot closer to the former. It’s not too far removed from the [adult swim] school of semi-ironically perverting mainstays of Gen X pop culture ephemera – again, Ethiopian-Not-Batman beating up jive-talking drug pushers ripped straight from Streets of Rage – except that there’s more of a tangible appreciation for all the trashy detritus which makes up Llansó’s art, a desire to remix and reconfigure the stuff that America exported back in the day into something whose influences are obvious but whose combined feel is largely of its own. Llansó is not oblivious to the political undertones of the 80s B-movie sci-fi, coked-up action movies, conspiracy thrillers, and moralistic PSAs he strips for parts, but instead it almost functions as an outsider’s attempt to reclaim the surface level fun and coolness of that iconography for his own ends.”