BOBBI JO: Under the Influence (2021)

Movie Info

Movie Info

Brent L. Jones
Run Time
1 hour and 42 minutes
Not Rated

VP Content Ratings

Sex & Nudity
Star Rating
★★★★4.5 out of 5

Relevant Quotes

Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” Then he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

Luke 7:47-48
Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’

Matthew 25:34-36
Bobbi Jo Reed, called by thousands in Kansas City, “Mom.” (c) Gravitas Ventures

In director/writer Brent L. Jones’s documentary we meet an engaging woman who could have moved in the same circle as the “fallen woman,” Bobbi Jo Reed. Jesus might well have said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Bobbi Jo Reed offers her own testimony,  “I started drinking at 12. I was an alcoholic for 22 years. I ended up homeless in the street, living under a boxcar next to a liquor store.” Assailants even kidnapped, beat, raped, and left her for dead, but she survived. Crediting Jesus for her overcoming her addiction after a long struggle, she discovered that the best way to stay free was to help others.

She was able to purchase an old nursing home that had 23 rooms. It was located in a rough section of Kansas City. Reed apparently disregarded that old advise of realtors—“Location! Location! Location!” Her home to help women escape addiction was located right next to one where drugs were sold and consumed! Bobbi Jo and her women prevailed and were able to buy the drug house and turn it into a shelter/treatment center as well. Bobbi Jo believes “that a safe home environment is critical to life-long recovery.” Among her first words to a new patient is, “Welcome home.” When she began her ministry there were about 900 addicted women in Kansas City undergoing inpatient treatment, but there were only 24 safe residential beds available to them after being released. Where could they go? She knew the answer and provided it. “Welcome home.”

As her healing work grew and picked up support from churches and other community leaders, her Healing House, as she named her organization, began to accept men as well. Healing House thus far owns 14 houses, some commercial property, and two apartment complexes where families can find stability and help in recovering from their drug related problems.

A screen full of people share their amazing stories and testify to Bobbi Jo’s loving dedication. Perhaps the most interesting of these is Mama Judi Burkholder who came to Pink House, as the first center is called, vowing to stay just for thirty days, but stayed for seventeen years. She caught Bobbi Jo’s “Welcome home” fervor, also learning that the best way to help oneself is to help others. Mama Judi became her right-hand woman and moved in with her. The press notes compare them to another devoted female couple, declaring that they are  “something akin to a Thelma and Louise with a mission to save lives.” It is a lump in the throat moment when we learn that Mama Judi’s dedication ended only with her illness and death. Several other recovering addicts, plus several ministers, black and white, and even police officers and a judge, also testify to Bobbi Jo’s impact on their city.

This is a thrilling story, well produced by Brent L. Jones, his wife Donna, and a skilled team of local cinemaphotographers.  Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the film opened at a Kansas City drive-in theater so people could watch safely from their cars. The showing was sold out, and now that it is available on DVD and streaming video, you can see why. The film is a real tonic for quarantined viewers despondent over all the rancor and partisanship and racial unrest plaguing our country. What Bobbi Jo declares is the basis for her helping fellow addicts has a far wider application as well, “The solution is love. It is – accepting people, helping anyone who needs a hand. That’s what church is for. Let’s all get together and give people the help and let them heal from it.”

I can promise that you will feel better after following this dynamo of a woman around. Considering that she often works 16-18 hours a day giving to others, you will be less likely to complain about your own situation. She is a single woman, but there are some 8000 Kansas City recovering addicts who call her “Mom.” They are indeed her family. This film is an excellent means to connect with her and renew your faith in the power of the human spirit.

For more information and pictures go to:

Watch for my interview with the filmmakers and Bobby Jo Reed on YouTube.

This review will be in the March issue of VP along with a set of questions for reflection and/or discussion. If you have found reviews on this site helpful, please consider purchasing a subscription or individual issue in The Store.


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