SAVED! is a testy little film that takes more chances than most and if not taken as a parody on our current religious polarizations, it could offend many. But this is a comedy and since Greek times, comedies find their most pungent lines in making fun of contentious ideas.
The setting is a fundamentalist Christian Baptist Highschool where everyone in the student body is endlessly praising Jesus and God and stretching their modes of entertainment and socialization to focus on religious concepts. Mary (!) (Jena Malone) is a sweet kid whose mother Lillian (Mary-Louise Parker) is off in her own world but supportive of her daughter who can do no wrong. Mary eyes handsome athletic Dean (Chad Faust) who is gay and Mary 'sacrifices' her virginity to save Dean's sinful soul: they bed and she becomes pregnant, but only after Dean is sent away to a de-gaying Mercy Center. The leader of the student body Jesus group is Hilary (Mandy Moore) who seeks to 'save' every lost soul, especially the sole Jewish 'ex-stripper' Cassandra (Eva Amurri - Susan Sarandon's talented daughter) who smokes, drinks, and seduces physically challenged, wheelchair bound Roland (Macaulay Culkin) who has been in Hilary's keeping. This set of problems all come to various resolutions at the infamous Prom, just like in all the old movies of the forties. But in the meantime no variation of normal goes unscathed: the disabled, out of wedlock pregnancies, gays, Jews, and all people outside fundamental religious beliefs (sound familiar?).
While much of the script is clunky and the story irritating to people of open minds, there is some fine work by most of the actors. It is a black comedy and if taken as such, it shouldn't seriously offend anyone - unless you choose to let it. Writer/Director Brian Dannelly is not surprisingly the creator of the current controversial TV series 'WEEDS'! Grady Harp, January 06
Teen comedies are a dime a dozen. Unfortunately, movies focusing on teen pregnancy are even more prevalent. So how do you come up with a twist on combining some tried-and-true formulas? Set your picture at a Christian high school, throw in some better-than-average talented actors, and back it up with a great sounding Christian-influenced movie soundtrack, and the end result is SAVED!, a scathingly funny indictment of all-things-Christian as well as it is a wholesome bit of praise for just the same … more
When saved was released in theatres, I had several acquaintances and friends tell me that it was a really good movie. I was told that it dealt honestly with faith and that I should see it because "it's also a Christian movie." I was a bit surprised by some of these words of praise because they came from people who were mainly atheists and agnostics. I wasn't able to see the movie when it was in theatres and forgot about the film until I happened to see it while browsing at a local video store. I … more
Pros: Makes you think. Cons: Predictable. The Bottom Line: The Christians who protested this missed its point, as always. What's more important? Keeping faith in your chosen religion or following the rules that are part of it? This was a question presented to me by a Christian friend who decided she was a lesbian several years ago, and it is essentially the question presented by Saved, a small independant comedy probably best … more
Sometimes the truth can hurt. In "Saved!," fundamentalist Christians get a healthy dose of this fact. Now before somebody jumps on me for attacking Christians, let me tell you that I grew up in a fundamental home. When I went to college I became a "Bible-thumper" for a couple of years. I'm not saying that that is a terrible thing, I'm just saying that many Christians, especially younger ones, can take their beliefs to an extreme level that not only discourages others into finding out about their … more
Pros: Jena Malone, Mary-Louise Parker, Eva Amurri, very fun lines, wonderful message Cons: gets a little cheesy, is sad if you think about it too much The Bottom Line: What would Jesus do? No, really. What would he do? In his feature film debut, writer/director Brian Dannelly scores an unlikely comedy hit with a tragic theme: intolerance and lack of sex education at Christian schools. The plot sounds like an after school special, … more
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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Classic teen comedy mixes with cunning satire inSaved!. Fervent Christian Mary (Jena Malone,Donnie Darko) believes God wants her to save her gay boyfriend by sleeping with him. But he gets sent to an anti-gay indoctrination camp while she ends up pregnant--which starts to drive a wedge between Mary and her snotty best friend Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore,How to Deal). Meanwhile, they're both interested in the son (Patrick Fugit,Almost Famous) of their Christian school principal (Martin Donovan,Trust).Saved!respects faith but gleefully mocks the excesses and absurdities of contemporary organized religion, particularly its suburban, let's-speak-the-language-of-the-kids manifestations. The actors, including Macaulay Culkin (yes, fromHome Alone) and Mary Louise Parker (Fried Green Tomatoes), play their parts with sincerity, which makes the fusion of humor and heart succeed. A delightful movie.--Bret Fetzer