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A little background on myself for some perspective: I'm a middle-aged
Roman Catholic single father of three, who attends church regularly (a
few times per month) and generally leans a bit toward the right. I'm
certainly not fanatical, but am somewhat spiritual. And just to clear
up any misconception, Catholicism is, in fact, a Christian religion.
My teenaged son and I watched this movie together, and I don't know his impression specifically, but he did watch the entire movie, which is generally an indication he likes it. I enjoyed the movie as well, and did not find it to be in the least bit mean-spirited or anti-Christian. The main character never denounces God, but merely changes her perspective to one that's a bit less fanatical. The fact is, some people do go to extremes in their religious zeal (anyone familiar with 9/11), and simply depicting such a character in a movie hardly makes it anti-Christian. I think this movie represented a very accurate cross-section of religious attitudes in our society. If you are a religious zealot, or anti-religion zealot, you probably won't enjoy it because it doesn't lean in favor of either extreme. All others may find it worth the price of the rental.
And just to address some of the other reviewer comments - not wanting to regulate morality does not make one immoral, and if you think your sexual preference is a choice, think back to the time you CHOSE to be heterosexual.
Come now, you surely must remember a significant decision like that (and no, I'm not gay).
I recall the controversy surrounding Saved when it came out earlier this year, especially from the evangelical church, conservatives and fundamentalists. I wanted to judge for myself its merits, or lack there of, since I've been an evangelical for 30+ years. I felt the movie did exactly what it intended to do; bring to light the hypocrisy of the church. I don't see how anybody, Christian or non-Christian could miss the message. I thought the selection of actors and actresses for the cast was right on, with each doing a very good job of portraying the personality of their characters well. I'm sure the movie was particularly biting to many evangelicals, as it should be--it even 'stung' me in a few places. I could see how evangelicals and conservatives would be outraged. However, the one thing I was especially struck by was the fact that this movie was written by non-Christians. As I watched all the 'digs' on Christians and the points of the evident hypocrisy within the church and Christianity, I came to a conclusion; if this movie was written by a non-Christian, then obviously there is a significant segment of our culture who believe the 'church' really is like this. If anything should move we evangelicals to start living lives of authenticity that reflect the love and grace of Jesus, this movie was it!
This film exceeded my already high expectations. The director and
screenwriter have delivered an amazingly acute study of high school
dialogue and interaction, while simultaneously exploring the polarizing
landscape of evangelical Christianity in America and still delivering
consistent laughs from start to finish.
The acting is superb. Martin Donovan (who routinely shines in Hal Hartley's films) here nimbly deconstruct his familiar grim sociopath persona to depict one of the most nuanced anti-heroes ever seen in a teen film. Jena Malone continues and deepens her fine work from Donnie Darko, creating one of the most moving teen heroines in memory. Eva Amurri is an inspired bit of casting as the multi-faceted school rebel who's full of surprises. And... it's true, Macaulay Culkin can act-- and even carries more than one scene with his understated comic timing
The storyline itself often leans on contrivance, but the situations presented ring true with an emotional depth rarely granted to pre-adult characters, and none of the events will seem off the wall to anyone familiar with modern adolescence or this particular religious subculture.
The film is blisteringly funny, unusually sharp in its look at different types of people and their individual frailties, and sweet-- possibly even, despite what else you may have read elsewhere, too sweet. The ending is the softest spot in the movie, but draws effectively on the hard-won empathy for each character to float to a graceful (ahem, pun intended) stop.
To be perfectly honest, as a reviewer who grew up in a very similar environment, I have to say that if the filmmakers could be accused of any distortion of the truth, it is in making their 'villains' *too* sympathetic, too keenly aware of their own flaws, and, in the end, too readily aware of a larger world around them to accurately reflect the worst elements of this belief system. All of the less-sympathetic characters in this film could be drawn from a documentary (yes, even Hilary Faye!)... if, that is, the documentary chose to edit out their least savory moments.
Of course, there are many good-hearted, well-meaning evangelicals in the world, and they are ably represented by characters such as Mary's mother, who makes mistakes, but who thinks more with her heart than her dogma. But the indignant critics who are so intent on finding a mote in the director's eye, because he dares to show how twisted some of their fellow believers might be, might stop for a minute to wave a hand in front of their own face, or their neighbor's, where they may just find a log they've been trying to ignore.
Saved is very funny satire/comedy-drama on whacked-out Christian
Basically at a Christian High-School (which is about as narrow-minded, hypocritical and contradicting as my own was) there is this clique of girls called the 'Christian Jewels', which are not to dissimilar from 'The Plastics' in Mean Girls. Every girl wants to be a part of the Jewels, including geeky, desperate Tia (Heather Matarazazazazazo rehashing her role from Welcome to the Dollhouse). I would find her attractive if she hadn't dyed her hair an unconvincing blonde. Too bad she's er...married.
After earning her way into this clique Mary (Jena Malone) is devastated when her boyfriend confesses his massive gayness. Eager to 'cure' him of this ungodly condition Mary offers up her virginity to him, only to get pregnant. Obviously this bun in the oven secret threatens to tear everyone's flimsy little world apart.
Hilary Faye, the leader of the Christian Jewels is appalled at Mary's sudden lack of faith and makes it her mission to save her, whatever the method or cost. Obviously Mary doesn't appreciate this and it only drives her to further isolation.
Saved is superior to Mean Girls in terms of relevance and wit. Though I'm afraid the target audience will no doubt pass this over in favor for Miss Lohan as discussion of God and the lack of pink will fail to attract as young an audience.
The acting is great. Jena Malone is more of an actress than Lohan/Duff, Macaulay Culkin was effective as the wheelchair-bound Roland, Mandy Moore is so innocently evil as Hilary Faye she makes Regina George look timid and Eva Amurri is like so totally gorgeous! Seriously! Wow! Too bad she smokes. NEXT!
I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Saved to anyone. It's funny and clever and outdoes all 'teen-comedies' by transcending the genre. A rarity indeed.
Not a bad movie for family consumption. Humorous and pushes its point home (that Christians should act like Christians and not bigots) without being too nasty. I watched with my wife and two high school daughters ... we all enjoyed it. Of course, if you're "sophisticated" you might sneer at this film -- but take it for what it is, a simple story with a talented young cast (the star, Jena Malone, is refreshing!), and you'll find it's worth the time spent to watch it and the money spent to rent it. If there's anything to criticize, it's the film's short length. They could have done much more with it in a longer format. However, that's a minor criticism. Overall the film is solid and enjoyable.
Despite losing its punch in the latter stages, "Saved!" remains an
enjoyable and viciously funny satire. Poking fun of judgmental
fundamentalists really isn't that tough a task or groundbreaking. They
tend to spoof themselves. But what writers Brian Dannelly (who also
directed) and Michael Urban do is not ridicule the fundamentalists'
beliefs but their awful behavior. And that definitely deserves to be
The first 50 minutes are sensational, brimming with pointed dialogue, terrific humor and sharp observations about the preposterous idea of "degayification," the real reason people are sent to deprogramming centers and these teens obviously missing the true meaning of Christ's message.
But the film falters in the third act when it veers from clever satire to preaching about intolerance. It's a noble idea, but the punchy writing gets forsaken for the message. And the film concludes with a tired denouement. Surely, there are more original ways to conclude a high school film than one seen many times before.
Some of the characters, I suppose, could be seen as stereotypes. Then again, speaking from personal experience, the Hillary Fayes of this world exist and they're every bit as judgmental and nasty as she is. Unfortunately, Mandy Moore goes over-the-top a bit, often turning Hillary Faye into a broad caricature. That's a shame. Reining Moore in would have done wonders, because the other performances are uniformly good.
Macaulay Culkin turns in a fine performance as Roland. He finally might have shed his "Home Alone" image, proving he's capable of perfectly delivering sharp, well-written dialogue. The other revelation is young Eva Amurri, who has all the attitude, spunk (and I hope much of the talent) of her mother. She gives Cassandra a delightfully anarchic spirit; the film soars whenever she's on screen.
One peeve: Why does the radiant and sexy Mary-Louise Parker dress down so much in this film?
People who are judgmental about gays, teen pregnancy, other religions, and see life's myriad issues in purely black and white terms likely will be offended by this film - they might see themselves manifested as Hillary Faye. But if you appreciate life's gray areas and take delight in biting satire, you're bound to enjoy this film.
"Saved!" is by no means an attack on Christianity. Quite the contrary. It shows the importance of stressing in our lives the true side of Christianity - one that's about compassion, love and tolerance, and not the biased, judgmental approach that seeks to take control and bastardize religion, whatever it may be.
Although "Saved!" deals primarily with Christianity, it proves we'd all be better off adopting Mahatma Gandhi's ideals that each and every one of us is a Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist and Jew.
This movie was fantastic. For those who have ever attended a Christian school, this hits all of the daily ironies that made those four years interesting. If you never have been in a Christian school, it adds a unique portrayal of the rigid nature of religion while confronting current controversial issues. I saw for the first time in the theater and could not stop laughing, so much so I had to buy it the minute it came out. One of my absolute favorite things about this movie was seeing the actors and actresses play roles contrary to their usual choices. Mandy Moore is superb and truly understands the role of Hillary Faye. I love this movie and recommend to anyone that can handle new forms of humor.
Saved! is a movie that will get to the hearts of people everywhere. It
so poignantly captures the hardships and comedies of being a teenage
Jena Malone is Mary, a typical teen attending a Christian school. After finding out her boyfriend is gay, a vision of Jesus provokes her to "cure" him by sleeping with him. But when Christian Mary finds out that she is pregnant, all hell breaks loose! She tries to hide the pregnancy, but it becomes difficult. Mary is shunned by her outgoing and devoutly Christian friend Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore), and finds solace with the uniquely rebellious Cassandra (Eva Amurri), who also happens to be the only Jew in the school. Mary also finds a friend in Patrick (Patrick Fugit), the pastor's son. Mary puts up with a lot from Hilary Faye and her friends trying to save her- even the pastor gets involved: "I want you to help" ... "You mean shoot her?" "No... I was thinking something a little less 'gangsta'". But when Hilary Faye goes too far, Cassandra, Mary, Patrick, and Hilary Faye's cool but wheelchair-bound brother Roland (Macaulay Culkin) team up to let Hilary Faye know that she can be "down with G-O-D", but has to be understanding of others as well.
The movie is full of hilarious lines and activities, but it remains believable. Malone portrays a typical teenager who is just trying to fit in and have fun despite her differences. Parts of the movie had me cracking up and quoting it for days on end, other parts were tear-provokingly sweet. As a whole, Saved! is one movie that you can't afford to miss. It just may save us all.
Saved! is one of this year's best movies. It is a movie showing some
hypocrisy of some Christians. It's not pointing out the flaws of
Christianity, but the hypocrisy of some Christians.
In the beginning, we are introduced to Mary (Jena Malone) who is a good Christian. Her boyfriend confesses to her underwater that he is gay. Upon hearing this, Mary tries to get back to the top, but hits her head on the ladder (Ouch!). While she is unconscious, she has a vision where Jesus tells her to help Dean. Mary takes this message the wrong way and winds up getting pregnant. She turns her back on her clique and is utterly friendless, although Patrick (Patrick Fugit) tries to ask her out on dates and stuff. She finds friends in the most unlikely of persons - outcasts. It turns out the only "sane" people are the outcasts.
I enjoyed this movie very much. I loved Jena Malone, she is beautiful and her acting was awesome! I find it funny that the roles of Cassandra and Hilary Faye were switched. Cassandra was cruel and evil and Hilary was the perfect Christian. As the movie plays out, the roles switch where Cassandra has a heart of gold and is compassionate, while Hilary has a heart of hatred, evil, and greed. The jokes in this movie were subtle, but I laugh at those parts. I think the most hilarious part is when she goes up to the cross and says "Shit" which was quite random, but it did make sense after she said "Goddamn" because she was expecting an intervention of some sort.
10/10. Beautiful movie. I've seen it 8 times in a week already. The music for this movie is incredible.
I actually watched this film again a couple days ago and I am editing
First, I am changing my vote to 10 out of 10.
With the third act of the film, I thought it actually worked. I had my doubts about it earlier but after seeing it again, I actually thought that it came out with a much more positive message and I was wrong about the end taking an easy out. I think that the film actually gave a very uplifting and realistic message about where faith should be.
Actually watching the film on DVD with all of the extras enhanced my viewing experience. I suppose when I went in the theatre I was expecting it to be a dark comedy so that may explain some of my opinions in the first review. It actually worked much better for me the second time.
I do still wish that there were one little scene to wrap up Mandy Moore's character arc though.
MY ORIGINAL REVIEW: I think that this just might make my top 10 of the year.
I honestly think that this was one of the best films in a long time to deliver any kind of religious message, particularly an alternative to the absolutist fundamentalist messages that are so prevalent. Addressing the 'anti-Christian' issue, it is more 'anti-Fundamentalist' then anything else, the only people who could see sacrilege in there would be dour and humorless religious zealots (who see sacrilege and persecution in everything and everyone except themselves). While it does poke fun at the subculture, it never does so in a disrespectful manner. This film, like The Shape of Things, is really a good litmus test for a person, you can tell a lot about them based on how they react to it.
The acting was excellent all around in the film and there were some hilariously clever moments including one that the entire theatre laughed for about fifteen seconds.
If there is a weakness to the film then it would be the end. The end got a bit heavy handed at times and many of the plots are resolved in a manner that is far too easy and light to fit in with the tone of the rest of the film. I wish that there would have been a little more to it and a better resolution for Mandy Moore's character.
Overall though, I would rank this film as a must see, particularly the kind of film you would bring a friend to, one who is getting a bit too serious about his religion.
Kudos to everyone involved on this film.
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