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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 Jay Seaver

"Funny without being condescending"
4 stars

I'm glad the makers of Saved! opted to treat their captial-C Christian characters with more respect than derision. Aside from sidestepping the hypocricy of using mocking stereotypes in a story about acceptance, it allows co-writer/director Brian Dannelly to make a movie about teenagers that seems neither unrealistically nave nor smothered in irony.

It's easy to make fun of Christians, and tempting. Most Americans describe themselves as belonging to some sort of christian faith, be it Catholic, Baptist, Protestant, or other, but their faith isn't the central part of their life that the it logically should be, as the source of one's value system. So we defensively deride them as unsophisticated, or concentrate on the ones who don't practice what they preach. There are some of those to be found in Saved!, but that's more indicative of them being regular people, not Christians.

Jena Malone is ideally cast as Mary, the film's main character; she's got a face that conveys intelligence and uncertainty, so that you can believe her as both nave enough to not realize her boyfriend is gay (and that she can "fix" this by sleeping with him) and practical enough to handle the consequences of her actions (pregnancy). Mary's stumbling to figure out what's right and wrong in a world that suddenly seems more complicated than it had before.

She's given able support by a fine cast. Mandy Moore plays the Christian school equivelent of on of Mean Girls's "plastics"; her Hilary Faye is rich, pretty, and self-centered, all too eager to make sure everyone sees how generous she is. Macauley Culkin is actually pretty great as Hilary's wheelchair-bound older brother, who has suffered his sister's attention since he was paralyzed at the age of nine and grown somewhat resentful. Culkin has emerged from nearly a decade out of the spotlight as an actual good, likable actor. Patrick Fugit gets to say the right things as the good-guy pastor's son, while Eva Amurri injects some needed anarchy into the picture as a Jewish girl attending the school because she's been expelled from everywhere else. The adults come off pretty well, too, with Martin Donovan as the school's principal (and Patrick's father), Pastor Skip; he manages to look just dorky and sincere enough to sell the character. Mary-Louise Parker plays Mary's mother as perhaps not quite so wrapped up in her faith as her daughter, or at least not so obsessed by it. She's the kind of parent who is so used to her daughter's good grades and good behavior that she doesn't notice Mary's eight months pregnant.

The movie juggles those characters pretty well, and is also quite funny. Culkin and Amurri get most of the best lines, notably a great exchange about what a good Christian girl is doing there when they see Mary leaving a Planned Parenthood center. It's really a pretty great script, balancing the specifically Christian and more universal in a way that lets you laugh at the characters but also understand and like them. I've read that Dannelly and co-writer Michael Urban went through dozens of re-writes, but it's for the best, as they managed to keep the wit while making a movie that will likely only offend the very easily offended.

That's no small achievement. Saved! could have easily been an exercise in feeling superior, but winds up being something better.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=8517&reviewer=371
originally posted: 06/27/04 19:29:33
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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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