Saved! (2004) Poster

(2004)

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From a Middle-of-the-Road Guy
jordan224022 November 2004
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).
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8/10
Funny, Sharp and genuinely Sweet
ian235 June 2004
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.
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A good wake up call for the evangelical church
kdillman15 November 2004
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!
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7/10
Terrific first half, then loses its edge
anhedonia2 August 2004
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 satirized.

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.
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9/10
Enjoyable, safe satire
mgoodst2 December 2004
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.
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9/10
You don't have to be down with G-O-D to know Saved is hilarious!
super_smiley8917 January 2005
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 girl.

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.
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10/10
Meaner Girls
CuriosityKilledShawn31 October 2004
Saved is very funny satire/comedy-drama on whacked-out Christian fundamentalists.

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.
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10/10
Great Movie
cshiroma0826 December 2004
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.
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10/10
Beautiful Movie
prjorge28 November 2004
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.
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10/10
Saw this on opening day and...
nolanjwerner4 June 2004
I actually watched this film again a couple days ago and I am editing my comments.

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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Clichéd stereotypes
sallytomato10025 August 2007
The non Christians who were involved in this production probably never stepped inside a church in their lives yet they feel free to dump on believers in Christ as a lunatic fringe and not the majority. It's non-believers who are in the minority in this country. A little perspective please.

Go into most churches today and you generally see white haired little old ladies and gentlemen and their simple families humbly reading the Bible, praying for others, collecting donations to help missions and the community, worshipping Jesus Christ and laughing, singing, fellowshipping. What is it about this humble group that so offends the elite non-believing hypocrites in Hollywood? That we don't vote the way you vote? That we don't all have the money you have?

This is just another blind attempt to lump all believers who care about biblical truth and morality into some fantasy group that has never existed. Most Christians would step in front of a truck and give their lives for any person in trouble, even a liberal. No man hath any greater love than this, that he give up his life for his friends. Most Christians would help an unwed pregnant girl in trouble, not condemn her. This film is ridiculous.

Maybe if the producers of this inept stereotypical film set foot in a church someday they might discover how wrong they were. Maybe they'd even find God themselves. What a concept!
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9/10
This movie isn't offensive to the religion and it's clever and well directed .
Rectangular_businessman3 February 2007
I heard reviews like "this is a movie for people that hate religion ". That isn't true, this movie doesn't mock of religion, this movie mocks of those fanatics that only use religion as a excuse to cover their intolerance. If you want to know ,I 'm catholic ,and I wasn't offended by this movie. Actually I find more offensive when the " religious " people use the Bible or the name of God for acts of intolerance and hate. When his name is used in a useless war of fanatics. Besides that,this movie makes a good combination of comedy and drama,and work very well. The performances are good,and even when many parts of the story have very much elements with teen movies ,it also offer a interesting story with many good points. And again ,this movie didn't make fun or attack the religion.
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10/10
funny with a very good message
chiat-123 November 2006
Before I saw this movie everyone said it was making fun of Christians. I didn't see why this was so bad, there have been many movies making fun of Jewish and Indian people and no one said a word, so I watched the movie. What I saw was not offensive to Christians at all! It was a touching story about taking religion too seriously and I don't think it was specifically aimed at Christians. This movie is one of the best ever made! It was hilarious, but it had a very good message. I loved Mandy Moore as the "perfect" Christian girl! The rest of the actors and actresses were excellent too. See this movie if you are in the mood for something lighthearted or if you like movies with good messages. I think this is a movie that everyone should see, no matter what religion you are.
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7/10
a satire that treats its subjects with respect
colettesplace14 March 2006
Watching over-the-top US comedy Saved! is like stumbling into an alternate universe as perturbing, in its own way, as Richard Kelly's cult hit Donnie Darko.

At American Eagle Christian High School, where Christian is all there is, it's the zealots who top the teen totem pole. Among them is Mary (Jena Malone) who's headed for a fabulous senior year with her best friend and leader of the Christian Jewels, Hilary-Faye (Mandy Moore), a mulleted gun-toting Barbie drowning in blue eye shadow. But when Mary falls pregnant to her gay boyfriend Dean (Chad Faust) after surrendering her virginity to save him in the belief it will be miraculously restored, she's an outcast. While Chad's sent off to Mercy House, Mary befriends the 'freaks': Hilary-Faye's wheelchair-bound brother (Macaulay Culkin) and his troublemaker girlfriend Cassandra (Eva Amurri), the only Jewish girl in school. Meanwhile, Mary's Christian Interior Decorator of the Year mum (Mary-Louise Parker) begins a tentative romance with charismatic school principal Pastor Skip (Martin Donovan).

Director Brian Dannelly, who co-wrote the script with Michael Urban, wanted to satirise the intensity of teen Christian worship, where fainting at prayer meetings is not uncommon. Performances are good across the board, but Mandy Moore almost steals the film with her outrageous Hilary-Faye.

Saved! is an enjoyable teen comedy that has some important subtexts: it argues for tolerance of diversity, and the importance of looking beneath the superficial when choosing friends. It embraces families that differ from the traditional nuclear model and demonstrates why sex education is needed. But what's best about Saved! is that the characters don't abandon their faith, simply incorporate it into a more tolerant world view. Whether you're a Christian, atheist or something different, Saved! will gently amuse without overwhelming you with political correctness.
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I thought it was really bad.
FilmLiker15 November 2004
I saw this at a local indie cinema, hoping it would be one of those fairly funny American high school films - plenty of silly gags and good one-liners.

Sadly, I think "Saved!" is the worst film I've ever seen.

The plot had room for good jokes (especially with the potentially sensitive subject matter), but they were all missed or mis-fired.

Disabled kid is cool and rebellious; pretty girl is shallow and insecure; punk girl is tough but with a heart of gold; plain girl is strong and gets the guy; guy incongruously admires plain girl.

It's another one of those "Hey! Alternative is OK" films that can't decide whether to be funny or preachy (no pun intended). Yawn.
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7/10
Decent film that pansies out a little at the end
Bungle-924 March 2005
I saw the trailers for this movie a looooong time ago and was very interested to see it, though I never got around to it. Now I've finally watched it and I'm happy that I did. In my view, this is essentially a movie about some of the issues with fundamentalism - it's not a complete panning of the Christian faith at all, let's get that straight!

I think everyone in the movie filled their roles particularly well, especially Mandy Moore as the obsessive Hilary Faye. Jena Malone grows on me more and more every time I see her, and this time was no exception. She was good in her small role in Contact, which I have to say I liked a bit more. Macaulay Culkin was also surprisingly good in his role - I didn't see "The Guy that was Kevin", but rather I saw is character. Some of the stuff he did and said was very funny too, like much of this movie.

My issue would be that the film pansies out a little at the end. To get me, you'd really have to watch it yourself. Just when you think the film might be going a certain direction, it turns back on itself to cover it's own behind.

Overall, entertaining and funny with good performances overall. More Jena Malone please.
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10/10
Saved!
duncant-211 May 2007
i really enjoyed everything about this movie, the actors, the script and the over all quirky sense of humor. it really teaches you to be more open minded to different views and obviously religions! when Mary gets pregnant, it shows you that no one is perfect.i love the sense of humor about all the different religions and the acting was really brilliant too! it was really nice to watch a funny movie that actually had a story line and some sense of real-life. this movie opened my mind to different peoples beliefs. Its not really an offensive movie but it does expose you to very religious people and their different views and opinions. i would highly recommend this awesome movie if you are looking for a good laugh! (no matter what religion you are)
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9/10
This is a really, really good film.
LydiaOLydia8 December 2005
Take equal parts modern era high school flick and you-more-or-less-know-where-it's-going melodrama and the results should be, well, a harmless little bit of fun but an otherwise forgettable movie, right? Saved! starts with those same basic ingredients but the results is really, really superb. What makes this movie stand out are absolutely brilliant characterizations (that have been acted with warmth and depth). Yes, the characters themselves are totemic - each character is clearly associated with a problem (or problems). However, the script and director handle this nicely - I was fully prepared to accept this and go along for the ride as at all times I felt the script was intelligent (well, as intelligent as a script that is really tailored for a mall audience will get) and that the movie, while making reasonably straightforward and somewhat simplistic even moral observations, was prepared to treat me like an adult as it made them.

I really enjoyed this movie. It's a true overlooked diamond. McCaulay Culkin is completely redeemed and the girl who played the Jewish student (Eva whatever) is hot beyond words, to boot.
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1/10
Unintelligent, witless trash
DarthBob18 October 2004
I'm a Christian, but I like to think I can take a joke.

"Saved" is a joke, but not in the way it's producers intended.

While mascarading as a morality play on "fundamentalist" Christians who take their faith too seriously, "Saved" succeeds mainly at portraying even nominally serious Christians as hand- swaying, verse chirping buffoons while atheistic relativists are the truly compassionate heroes.

I've seen Christianity satirized in a funny way and I think God can take a joke (although I do draw the line at portraying Jesus as a poolboy-which happens in an early scene in "Saved"). But check out any number of "Simpsons" episodes featuring Ned Flanders prominently. Clearly, unlike the writers of "Saved", the "Simpsons" writers have done their homework (and some may even be believers themselves). Satire always requires a solid-element of truth (even when dealing with stereotypes) in order to make it work. It even requires a degree of sympathy for that which it is satirizing (see the Christopher Guest "mockumentaries"). "Saved" has none of that, and simply relies on sweeping generalizations of those it deems "too intolerant" in their faith.

The movie is also just poorly made, poorly cast, poorly acted, poorly written and poorly edited. Scenes which linger should have been cut sooner (Cassandra's "speaking in tongues" scene comes to mind). Others don't last long enough or give us enough information about any of the characters motivations. It's often as though the movie can't decide what it wants to be- a satirical comedy or a WB style teen drama. It seems like it switches between those two every other scene.

Although this is technically a "comedy" most of the jokes fall totally flat. "Saved" is devoid of any true wit and instead relies on typical teen comedy style jokes (usually involving sex of course.)

I agree that Christians should be loving and accepting, but must it be at the expense of righteousness? Do we trade righteous living for moral relativism, situational ethics and spiritual ambiguity?

The movie could have given us a more mature and fair answer (to both fundamentalists and those more "liberal" in their faith). Instead it gives us a tired, tired I'm okay you're okay message that leaves more questions about faith then answers.

One of the worst movies made in the last ten years.
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5/10
Some tart religious satire can't overcome cheap gags and the usual boy-girl antics...
moonspinner5511 November 2006
Jena Malone has a sweet plainness and a natural, unforced charm playing bright senior at "a really good Christian school" who's part of an elite clique until a series of confounding personal events causes her to question her faith--and reexamine her circle of friends. Director/co-screenwriter Brian Dannelly doesn't have the keen knack for transcribing teenagers' speech or behavior, though he does a little bit better by the adults, and Mary Louise Parker (as Malone's mother) ends up with the film's best lines and strongest scenes. In sending up the religious teen scene, Dannelly falls back too easily on familiarity or corny obviousness, yet he also wants to be sympathetic towards his characters, a symptom which usually brings out the worst in any screenwriter. The finale, at the senior prom, is full of platitudes and the inevitable pleading for tolerance, all of which do not play. This is in context, and that's fine, but what happen to the humor? ** from ****
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8/10
A heavenly balance of sharp wit, sweet heart, and fine performances
johnnysugar14 June 2004
Films that question the religious status quo almost inevitably bring controversy. Modern teen comedies, with the exception of such atypical fare as "Mean Girls", almost inevitably reek of mediocrity. So what happens when you combine the two into one? You get "Saved!", a funny, sweet comedy that, while it does have a flaw or two, is a welcome dose of reality into two genres of film that have become increasingly fantastical.

It's the senior year of high school for Mary (Jena Malone), a student at the Baptist high school American Eagle. Mary's in good standing with the Christian Jewels, run by Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore), who seems to be the most popular girl because she's the most vocal about her devotion to Jesus. When Mary's boyfriend Dean (Chad Faust) confesses that he thinks he might be gay, Mary is determined to save his soul, and decides to have sex with him, since she believes that Jesus will forgive her for it. When her plan backfires, Dean finds himself shipped off to Mercy House, a place for "wayward" teens, and Mary finds herself pregnant. Spurned by her former friends and branded a sinner, Mary must turn to the school's outcasts for help and support, primarily bad girl Cassandra (Eva Amurri), a gothic, punky Jewish girl who's been kicked out of every other school in town, and Roland (Macaulay Culkin), Hilary Faye's atheist, wheelchair-bound brother. To complicate matters, Mary begins a flirtation with Patrick (Patrick Fugit), a skateboard missionary and son to the school's Pastor Skip (Martin Donovan), and Hilary Faye is determined to win Patrick for herself.

What could have been a heavy-handed, laborious treatise on faith (similar to Mel Gibson's gorefest "The Passion Of The Christ") is instead diffused by the some very funny dialog by writer/director Brian Dannelly (and co-writer Michael Urban) and a cast of standout performances. While Malone is quite good in her role, it's the supporting cast that stands out. Amurri's Cassandra is by far the most endearing character on screen, and the actress (who's a dead ringer for mother Susan Sarandon) is fantastic. Culkin, as well, does some of his best work in years, never playing Roland with any self-pity. Moore, however, demonstrates that she's much more than another teen idol, and besides watching her gleefully trash her own goody-goody image with Hilary Faye's unabashed religious opportunism, her rendition of the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows" (which opens the film) is remarkably moving without being saccharine.

The film does have its share of problems, however minor those may be. The film gets off to a shaky start, and it takes a while for the tone to set in. The opening scenes are played in a fairly dramatic key, and the comedy aspects, while present early on, don't take hold on the viewer until a little later. Additionally, Dannelly defaults to a few teen movie archetypes -- such as the whole film leading up to the prom -- that should have been avoided in such an original movie. That the whole thing doesn't liquefy into syrup is admirable, however, but the ending seems too pat, too perfect given the film's timbre.

Some controversy has been raised by many Christians who feel offended by the mocking tone of the film. To be sure, there is quite a good deal of ammunition lobbed at fundamentalist Christianity, but that's the entire point. The film seeks to affirm faith while showing disdain for the more radical fringes of the religion. The film's message is that following all the rules of a religion won't make you a better person if your heart isn't in it, as demonstrated by Hilary Faye, who believes that moral superiority lies in following the letter of the law but not the spirit. As one character says, "Why would god make us all so different if he wanted us to be the same?"

There may be many places where "Saved!" may not be very popular or play well. This is a shame, because the film is filled with no small amount of heart, and some very real, flawed characters who act like real humans and not like teen movie cardboard cut-outs. To miss this film is to miss some of the best performances of the year, and to miss a film that isn't afraid to ask questions of its viewers. 8 out of 10.
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1/10
Kind of boring and without a real point
Tecun_Uman25 January 2006
I am not sure I understand what the point of this movie was, other than to mock Christianity. I mean, the "cool" anti-heroes" that spend all of their time rejecting Christianity are pretty unlikable themselves. Then we have the George Bush Christians that are equally unlikable. Every once in awhile, we get a brief glance at some other supporting characters that don't seem to have any real defined role in the movie. I have to be honest, I got bored. I am certainly not a Super Christain, so I am not going to condemn the film for being anti-religion, even though it is. However, I am not going to embrace the three rebels in this film that seem to stand for nothing or believe in anything. It is a rather empty film that attempts to parody the zealots that we find so often in America, but not make any real point beyond that.
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1/10
Awful, awful film
Ajax16095 January 2010
Well I shall keep this short because reading lengthy negative reviews does get quite depressing and tiresome after a while. This movie is truly terrible on so many levels; the lack of any gripping storyline, the lack of any likable characters, the preachiness that seems to ingrain this film at every possible level amongst other problems.

Anyone watching this must prepare themselves for a film that is so boring and so unradical in any way that they will feel that they have watched it a thousand times before and that is where this film fails. There is nothing new or unique here, it is all recycled from other other films, and it feels recycled as a result.

1/10
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1/10
Babylon rising?
makeitasoulparty28 May 2004
This movie is an incredibly clever piece of propaganda....very well thought out.

The message is "it's okay to be a Christian as long as you don't really believe in it, if you do you're nuts and should be hated with a passion." Nothing but a Hitleresque hate-bombing from start to finish....with the technology and techniques available to today's propagandists it's frightening to think what will happen in the future...

I wish the people who "love" this movie would investigate Bible prophesy...because I'm beginning to think that films like this are inevitable to prepare the younger generation to follow the "antichrist"....I wish that wasn't the case but if more stuff like this gets mainstream approval It's going to make a believer out of me....

no one learns from history....
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1/10
Unpleasantly surprised
dan_0019 February 2005
I just watched this movie with the family. We thought it was awful...one of the worst we've seen in a long time. The trailer and previews made it seem like it was going to be a teen comedy that spoofed evangelicals and private school. Instead it wasn't funny. It wasn't serious. It was just a bunch of people running around preaching how they loved Jesus. I felt very misled, yet we left it playing hoping it might develop into something better. The best part about Saved is that it is short in duration, so we only had to endure 90 minutes or so.

This movie is like when you go to what you think is a party and when you arrive you realize it's an Amway event. You don't want to stay but you feel like you can't leave. In the end, it just leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
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