Friday, August 12, 2016

Movie Review: "Saved!" (2004)

Image Source
Director: Brian Dannelly
Year: 2004
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 32 minutes

Mary (Jena Malone) is a born-again Christian attending a religious high school. She goes about her life trying to do God's will and serve him as best she can, so when she sleeps with her boyfriend Dean (Chad Faust), who thinks he is gay, she thinks she's saving him from eternal damnation. Several months later, Mary realizes she is pregnant. Mary finds herself ostracized by her secret, but has found new friends in Cassandra (Eva Amurri), the school's Jewish outcast and all around bad girl, and Roland (Macauly Culkin), Cassandra's wheelchair-bound boyfriend. Thinking Mary has just slipped backwards into the hellfire, former friend and the school's goodie-two-shoes Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore) seems determined to make Mary's life a living hell.

"Saved!" is a satirical teen rom-com about a group of kids attending a religious high school. Mary, played by Jena Malone, is deeply in love with her boyfriend Dean, played by Chad Faust, who turns out to be gay. After being called on by the Lord and in an effort to save his soul, Mary gives herself to Dean believing she is doing the work of God by saving him. When Dean's parents discover gay porno magazines underneath his bed, he gets sent away to a school where he can "pray the gay away." Several months later with school about to begin, Mary realizes she is pregnant. She can't exactly tell anyone her secret, not even her best friend Hilary Faye, played by late 90's-early 2000's singing sensation Mandy Moore, because she knows Hilary Faye will rat her out since she's such a goodie-two-shoes backstabbing bitch. As Mary falls out of favor with Hilary Faye and her disciple-like sidekicks, with no one to turn to, the school's outcasts Cassandra, the only Jewish person in their school, played by Eva Amurri, and Roland, Hilary Faye's wheelchair-bound brother, played by Macauly Culkin, become her salvation and only friends during her difficult time. Her secret is able to stay hidden for several months, Mary wears baggy clothes to conceal her pregnancy, and over time, she slowly beings to realize that her faith might not be exactly what she once thought it was and learns the real definition of faith.

Even though "Saved!" came out in the prime time of my personal youth when all crappy movies meant an ~*amazing~* viewing experience, it slipped under the radar until I was an adult. I appreciate this movie so much more now than I would have at 17, and so does BigJ. The satirical nature of a movie based in a religious theme will absolutely turn viewers away, but since that's not a problem for us, we can enjoy this film for what it's worth. As Mary falls more and more out of favor in school with Hilary Faye's clique, she learns what faith really is, even if it means falling out of her religion, too. Organized religion is the prime suspect for ridicule here, but really, no issue is left unturned. Sometimes, the dialogue comes off as mockery executed in thinly veiled quips, and other times, there's no hiding the disdain in its language and tonality. What it has to say about intolerance among many of those who identify as religious is spot on, at least when it comes to groups like the Westboro Baptist Church, who feed on a false sense of righteous indignation and bigotry, using the word of God in the worst possible way. Though it seems to falter in the last portion of the movie, overall, the sentiment it is trying to convey is noble, though not unique to this specific film. Each actor plays their parts well, especially school rebel Macauly Culkin, who rarely acts these days, so it's nice to see him come out of his "Home Alone" shell once in a while. Of course, "Saved!" hinges a lot of its excellence on the performance of Jena Malone, who does an excellent job playing a girl who is shy, trusting, and believes she's doing the right thing as a servant of God, only to ultimately be punished for it. Like we said, this film deals with several dicey social topics, but it shouldn't be discounted because it can often be hilariously written, snarky, sardonic, and dark.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 61%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

No comments:

Post a Comment