A Film Review By Jason L. King
|Rating:Rated PG-13 for strong thematic issues involving teens – sexual content, pregnancy, smoking and language
Starring:Mandy Moore, Jena Malone, Macully Culkin
Directed By:Brian Dannelly
Growing up I heard a lot of supposedly wise things from my grandmother and many of my other elders. One of the things I used to hear constantly was the phrase, “Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing.” I never really understood what that meant at my young age, after all what can you have too much of if it is good?
By the time I made it through college, I finally found an example for what my elders were trying to teach me. Searching for the answers to life and it’s meaning, I went through that early stage in everyone’s life where they question their faith, and either find Jesus or make the decision to turn away. That’s how I met Tom. Tom was the guy that you dreaded to have show up at a bible study, and wanted to run away from for fear of his bible beating. His lectures never strayed far from being focused on how he leads by example and he is God’s tool for leading other lambs to the fold as he referred to it as. If there ever was a Christian that thought more of himself, I am yet to meet him. The problem with Tom was, his intentions were good and everyone could see that, but his approach was all wrong. He tried to force his religion upon others and instead of actually conveying the true messages, he wound up making more people flee from him. Of course in the world of Christianity, if you can “save” one lamb then your efforts are worthwhile. Tom helped save one of God’s lambs once or twice and so other Christians thought he was a role model and a spiritual leader. His other fellow Christians began using some his approaches, and the same results happen, for every one that is saved, there are at least 20 who run away.
It’s sad that this happens, but Tom’s story is not the only one like this. It happens every day with churches around the world, and religions across the board. The newest Mandy Moore Flick, Saved takes that idea and creates a great witty satire for anyone who has been in the same sort of situation or has that nutty Christian friend.
Mary is your common happy go lucky Christian girl. She attends a Christian school, is part of the “Christian Jewels” (their school’s Christian inspirational band) and has what she thinks is the perfect Christian Boyfriend. But then one day her world is turned upside down, when her boyfriend starts to question his sexuality. Knowing in her heart that being “gay” will send him to hell, Mary sleeps with him in hopes that he will change his mind. All that changes is Mary winds up pregnant and tries to hide it from her friends. Trying to hide her problems Mary starts to hang out with the two school rebels, a Jewish trouble making girl named Cassandra and a crippled atheist named Roland (Macully Culkin). But Mary’s sudden changes are noticed and the school’s Holier than thou Christian role model, Hillary Faye, tries to matters into her own hands to bring Mary back to her faith.
Saved is a satirical dark comedy that does exactly what it is trying to do. It takes a subject like Christianity and makes a statement, yet does it in a way that people can laugh at. The writers know that they are dealing with a sensitive subject, and find a way of escaping it with out causing any huge holy wars. The film borderlines along being offensive to some of the hard core Christians, but I think it never pushes the envelope a little too far. Hardcore Christians may find the film horrible due to the nature of the comedy, and will claim that they make Christians look like horrible people, however I do not think that is the case. The writers instead have just amplified all the stereotypes that already exist about the hardcore Christians, and that’s what satire is all about in the first place.
Jena Malone does a great job in this film, and the actress once again shows us that she can be a great star if she makes it to the next level. But pop princess, Mandy Moore, who shines on the big screen as Hillary Faye, steals the show. Moore Brings Hillary Faye to life on the big screen, and does a great job of a portraying a person whose intentions are good but she just goes about them in a very wrong way. Macully Culkin (yes that is the little boy from Home Alone) does a great job in his role as well, and should be recognized for a job well done.
The technical aspects of the film are pretty much a sleeper. While there are a lot of good things going on, nothing really stands out as greatness. The director does a nice job of keeping the film moving and not burying itself the heap of “message” they could be trying to portray in the script. Solid writing makes and great acting is what makes this film a lot of fun.
In the end, Saved is a great little film. It takes the same humorous satire of Mean Girls and applies it to a different group (Christianity) and makes a nice little film with a good message. The only problem is the Hardcore Christians who should see this film would run away from it for fear that it is the work of Satan. We all know they are wrong though, and that means that there are more seats for all of us! Go check it out, it’s worth your buck.