Reflections on a second viewing of the film, by Jason.
Starring: Mandy Moore, Patrick Fugit, Jena Malone ,Macullay Culkin
Directed by: Brian Dannelly
Rated: PG-13 for strong thematic issues involving teens – sexual content, pregnancy, smoking and language
BoxOfficeBoredom.com Original Review (September 2004): Click Here
As I had the chance to re-watch the film Saved! over the weekend, I realized that I had some things to say about the film that perhaps my original review from way back in 2004 didn’t quite outline well enough. Upon reading my original words, I still stand firm on the final grade I gave the film and the story of Tom is sadly enough still very true. It’s sad, but I think the story of the Toms and Hillary Fayes of the world exist more than Christians like to believe. The Hillary Fayes of the world have the best of intentions, but sometimes they approach it from the wrong angle and that causes distance between them and the people they are trying to effect.
As I journeyed through the film again, I re-experienced something that I know I caught the first time, but didn’t quite vocalize. This heavy satirical film can easily be seen as mocking to someone who is a Christ follower, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to count the ways that it does so. The film is filled full of stereotyped, over blown, radical Christian overtones and the film loves to point out the flaws in the characters thinking. However, instead of declaring the film to be the work of satan and calling it blasphemy, I actually encourage quite the opposite viewpoint to a Christian, embrace the film.
At no point in Saved! does the film actually tell you that a belief in God is a bad thing. In fact, our main character begins and ends as a God fearing Christ follower. The film chronicles her journey as she questions the things she has always taken for granted, and how believers actually live the words the preach. She begins to realize not that her faith is that which is wrong, but instead that the people she thought were some of the “best Christians” can still be hypocritical, and still be sinners. The film does satirically point this out by poking fun at the hardcore, fundamental Christian who wants to live to serve the Lord, but at the same time- if you look for the message-you can find the film doesn’t condemn them for their beliefs; it doesn’t shame them for their wrong doings but instead shows them each the error in their ways as the plot unfolds. In fact, every character comes to terms with their hypocrises and sins and coincidentally is shown compassion and forgiveness from others around them.
It’s so easy to be a naysayer and take the film at face value and not think about it. Sure, in no time you’ll havethisfilm chalked up as a film that says God followers have adulterous pastors, rampant pre-marital sex, and believers that lie, cheat, steal and break about every commandment one could think of as they continue their quest for Christ. But instead, I challenge you to look deeper. I challenge you to see how this film uses these people, these scenarios to make you question- “Am I a Hillary Faye? Am I a Pastor Skip?”
The message is not that Christians are wrong, but instead that just like everyone else, we are still sinners. We’re not perfect, and never will be. Everyone has their demons, there is no such thing as a sinless human being in this world. Saved! challenges you as a Christian to look at yourself and ask, are you hiding behind a “cloak of God?” Are you trying to pridefully show your beliefs off to others, and in the process perhaps saying, or doing wrong things and justifying it in the name of the Lord? Are you trying so hard to be a good Christian that you forgot what being a Christian is all about in the first place?
If you read my original review of the film, I relate the actions of Hillary Faye to a real life person that I know of by the name of Tom. Tom probably never read that review and will never see this one- which is fine because my goal never was to make a mockery of him, but instead use his tale as a cautionary tale to others. If my review(s) of Saved! make one person change their actions then maybe I’ve suceeded. If I’ve convinced one person to watch Saved! and give it a chance, maybe I have suceeded.
One of my favorite lines from Saved! is when Hillary Faye is trying to “re-save” Jena Malone’s character and she chucks a Bible at her screaming, “I am filled with Christ’s love! You are just jealous of my success in the Lord!” Malone’s character, whirls around, plucks up the Bible and says, “This is not a weapon! You idiot.” I think that is one of two defining lines in the film. Malone’s character says aloud what a Christian knows, but sometimes forgets- it’s the same thing Tom forgot back in 2001. The Bible is not a weapon, it’s a spiritual tool. You can use a screwdriver as a weapon no doubt, but that’s not its intended purpose. The Bible is much the same way. It’s a tool, but too many times people view it or even use it as a weapon. In many a way, the film Saved! can be similarly categorized. Sure, it’s not THE BIBLE, but it can be used as a tool- a reflexive look at our own hypocrisies, or who knows maybe even a way to start up a difficult conversation about beliefs with a friend.
I usually don’t use this site as any sort of way to push my own religious beliefs or agendas. However, I felt some what compelled to comment on this film from my own religious perspective because I think too many Christians have dismissed this film as being blasphemous. Of course a non-believer will find things to mock if that is what they are looking for, but I think a believer can find a message of redemption, forgiveness and acceptance in this film if they take the time to look on it.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to be Saved!, check the film out. Believer or not, I think you’ll be glad you did. I know I still am!