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Overall Rating

Awesome: 22.37%
Worth A Look46.05%
Just Average: 22.37%
Pretty Crappy: 2.63%
Sucks: 6.58%

6 reviews, 40 user ratings

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by EricDSnider

"Meh. Save this one for last."
3 stars

You'd think that in a film where a born-again Christian teenager gets pregnant, the comedy would write itself. But "Saved!," the feature-film debut by Brian Dannelly and Michael Urban, can only mine so many jokes about fundamentalist Christians -- and organized religion in general -- before they become too earnest for their own good and wuss out on us. If you're going to make a biting satire, keep biting until the film is over.

It is set at a Christian high school where the "coolest" kids in school are the most haughtily righteous ones. In this case, that's Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore), a pretty, blond, sanctimonious girl who despises her brother, Roland (Macaulay Culkin). This might be because she's generally a hypocrite, or it might be because she's "righteously" frustrated with Roland for being a backslider: He hasn't been thrilled with God, it seems, since he was in an accident that landed him in a wheelchair.

Their friend Mary (Jena Malone) is the one who becomes with-child, and not in nearly as sanctioned a way as her namesake. This Mary learned her boyfriend Dean (Chad Faust) was gay, and subsequently had a dubious vision in which Jesus told her to have sex with Dean in order to "cure" him. Dutifully, she did this, even though the vision came after being knocked unconscious in a swimming pool, and "Jesus" was actually the pool guy, diving in to save her.

Well, the sex thing didn't work, and Dean's fundamentalist parents send him to Mercy House, a rehab center for Christians struggling with a variety of tragic conditions, including homosexuality. Mary can't figure out why Dean wasn't cured when she did what she thought was right, and she's even more alarmed to find herself expecting. Such behavior will not be looked upon favorably at a Christian high school, obviously.

The battle lines are soon drawn: Hilary Faye and her followers versus the more down-to-earth Christian kids, which include Mary, Roland, the pastor/principal's son Patrick (Patrick Fugit), and Cassandra (Eva Amurri), the token Jew. Like all good high school movies, it has its climax at the prom, by which time Mary is "showing" rather noticeably.

The film has its share of funny lines and snarky situations -- it's like "Mean Girls" for the Christian set -- and its cynical attitude toward religion is consistent. Much of its humor is laugh-out-loud outrageous. It's the satire that's slipshod: One minute we're making fun of religious people, and the next minute we're claiming to respect the idea of "faith." Entertainment Weekly notes that critics have praised the movie "for walking a fine line between skewering ugly fundamentalism and respecting the faith behind it," but it doesn't come across that way to me. It seems to me to be mocking both religion and the people who believe in it, regardless of how fanatic they are about it, and the lip service paid to "faith" feels insincere.

More to the point, the last half-hour of the film isn't funny, and barely tries to be. That's where Dannelly and Urban (who wrote it together; Dannelly directed) try to wrap their jagged, snarling satire into a tidy finale, and it just doesn't work. I can respect a movie that mocks things I believe in if it does it well, but not if it peters out before it's finished.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=8517&reviewer=247
originally posted: 06/19/04 02:24:03
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2004 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Philadelphia Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/03/09 art TERRIBLE! 1 stars
5/08/09 art EVERYONE IS SO HAMMY! 2 stars
3/27/08 SamanthaPayntr very funny, i loved macaulay culkin and Eva Amurri, they were the best!! 4 stars
2/11/08 art A REAL DEEP DRAMAEDY MANDY MOORE IS A HAM as HILLIARY FAYE but the star is miss malone 4 stars
11/10/06 David Pollastrini all the women in this film are hot! 5 stars
12/02/05 Jennifer S. One of the funniest and most underrated movies I have seen in a long time! 5 stars
8/21/05 sarah fun...creative satire...takes risks.....cute 4 stars
8/02/05 Buford my nads are yor friends. 5 stars
6/22/05 Satan Pretty good, but could've used a lesbian subplot between Mandy and Jena. Oh, yeeeeah... 4 stars
6/14/05 tj TXJ 4 stars
6/07/05 rebecca very good i love it and would see it again 5 stars
6/06/05 Cordy i thought it was great! dunno y sum christians h8ted it 4 stars
5/01/05 DM Sweet comedy with a charming cast. 4 stars
11/20/04 conor the great wusses out in the end 3 stars
11/08/04 Taylor Fladgate Whew...too much like my youth to be funny... 3 stars
9/26/04 alicia quite funny if you can empathsize, but completely falls apart with a hollywood prom ending 3 stars
9/09/04 John Aster Habig Get it on DVD October 5th along with Fahrenheit 9/11 5 stars
8/27/04 Naka Funny, intelligent look at Christianity. Not offensive to the intelligent crowd. 5 stars
8/27/04 Roy Again The Jewish/Muslim version of this will never be made. 1 stars
8/26/04 Maureen McDevitt WWJD? He'd laugh. 4 stars
7/17/04 legend A funny look at Christianity but nothing too over the top. I really enjoyed it. 4 stars
7/03/04 Kris Hate fest toward Christians 1 stars
7/02/04 John Aster Habig an honor to satire 5 stars
6/22/04 Kristen The best movie I've ever seen! 5 stars
6/18/04 ajay i laughed quite a bit... very funny. 5 stars
6/18/04 John Aster Habig i have seen many people like those in this film it is a great year for intelligent teen com 5 stars
6/18/04 BrianWilly Dark, wicked humor with a necessary message as well. 5 stars
6/16/04 Joe Parts were amatuerish but definately a must see 4 stars
6/16/04 wintermute not a waste of time, but mediocre at best. amurri was a nice surprise 3 stars
6/12/04 Pretentious Bastard The ending's annoying, but it's pretty entertaining - 3.5/5 3 stars
6/12/04 Lurlene Jacobs Love the Moozlem, Hate the Moozlem-isms 1 stars
6/09/04 carlybarly MY FAVORITE MOVIE OF THE YEAR!!! GREAT!!! 5 stars
6/03/04 James Zucker super effort by director and cameramen 5 stars
6/02/04 JERRY silly 1 stars
5/29/04 Jeffrey Excellent movie 5 stars
5/26/04 Ray The master of teen flicks 5 stars
4/23/04 Cameron Slick Down with the commercial perversions of Pentecostal churches today, it's a funny movie. 4 stars
3/29/04 Megan Really really really really funny. 5 stars
3/28/04 Betty Bower The best teen movie ever! 5 stars
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  28-May-2004 (R)
  DVD: 05-Oct-2004



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