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From a Middle-of-the-Road Guy
jordan224022 November 2004
A little background on myself for some perspective: I'm a middle-aged Roman Catholic single father of three, who attends church regularly (a few times per month) and generally leans a bit toward the right. I'm certainly not fanatical, but am somewhat spiritual. And just to clear up any misconception, Catholicism is, in fact, a Christian religion.

My teenaged son and I watched this movie together, and I don't know his impression specifically, but he did watch the entire movie, which is generally an indication he likes it. I enjoyed the movie as well, and did not find it to be in the least bit mean-spirited or anti-Christian. The main character never denounces God, but merely changes her perspective to one that's a bit less fanatical. The fact is, some people do go to extremes in their religious zeal (anyone familiar with 9/11), and simply depicting such a character in a movie hardly makes it anti-Christian. I think this movie represented a very accurate cross-section of religious attitudes in our society. If you are a religious zealot, or anti-religion zealot, you probably won't enjoy it because it doesn't lean in favor of either extreme. All others may find it worth the price of the rental.

And just to address some of the other reviewer comments - not wanting to regulate morality does not make one immoral, and if you think your sexual preference is a choice, think back to the time you CHOSE to be heterosexual.

Come now, you surely must remember a significant decision like that (and no, I'm not gay).
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Funny, Sharp and genuinely Sweet
ian235 June 2004
This film exceeded my already high expectations. The director and screenwriter have delivered an amazingly acute study of high school dialogue and interaction, while simultaneously exploring the polarizing landscape of evangelical Christianity in America and still delivering consistent laughs from start to finish.

The acting is superb. Martin Donovan (who routinely shines in Hal Hartley's films) here nimbly deconstruct his familiar grim sociopath persona to depict one of the most nuanced anti-heroes ever seen in a teen film. Jena Malone continues and deepens her fine work from Donnie Darko, creating one of the most moving teen heroines in memory. Eva Amurri is an inspired bit of casting as the multi-faceted school rebel who's full of surprises. And... it's true, Macaulay Culkin can act-- and even carries more than one scene with his understated comic timing

The storyline itself often leans on contrivance, but the situations presented ring true with an emotional depth rarely granted to pre-adult characters, and none of the events will seem off the wall to anyone familiar with modern adolescence or this particular religious subculture.

The film is blisteringly funny, unusually sharp in its look at different types of people and their individual frailties, and sweet-- possibly even, despite what else you may have read elsewhere, too sweet. The ending is the softest spot in the movie, but draws effectively on the hard-won empathy for each character to float to a graceful (ahem, pun intended) stop.

To be perfectly honest, as a reviewer who grew up in a very similar environment, I have to say that if the filmmakers could be accused of any distortion of the truth, it is in making their 'villains' *too* sympathetic, too keenly aware of their own flaws, and, in the end, too readily aware of a larger world around them to accurately reflect the worst elements of this belief system. All of the less-sympathetic characters in this film could be drawn from a documentary (yes, even Hilary Faye!)... if, that is, the documentary chose to edit out their least savory moments.

Of course, there are many good-hearted, well-meaning evangelicals in the world, and they are ably represented by characters such as Mary's mother, who makes mistakes, but who thinks more with her heart than her dogma. But the indignant critics who are so intent on finding a mote in the director's eye, because he dares to show how twisted some of their fellow believers might be, might stop for a minute to wave a hand in front of their own face, or their neighbor's, where they may just find a log they've been trying to ignore.
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A good wake up call for the evangelical church
kdillman15 November 2004
I recall the controversy surrounding Saved when it came out earlier this year, especially from the evangelical church, conservatives and fundamentalists. I wanted to judge for myself its merits, or lack there of, since I've been an evangelical for 30+ years. I felt the movie did exactly what it intended to do; bring to light the hypocrisy of the church. I don't see how anybody, Christian or non-Christian could miss the message. I thought the selection of actors and actresses for the cast was right on, with each doing a very good job of portraying the personality of their characters well. I'm sure the movie was particularly biting to many evangelicals, as it should be--it even 'stung' me in a few places. I could see how evangelicals and conservatives would be outraged. However, the one thing I was especially struck by was the fact that this movie was written by non-Christians. As I watched all the 'digs' on Christians and the points of the evident hypocrisy within the church and Christianity, I came to a conclusion; if this movie was written by a non-Christian, then obviously there is a significant segment of our culture who believe the 'church' really is like this. If anything should move we evangelicals to start living lives of authenticity that reflect the love and grace of Jesus, this movie was it!
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Enjoyable, safe satire
mgoodst2 December 2004
Not a bad movie for family consumption. Humorous and pushes its point home (that Christians should act like Christians and not bigots) without being too nasty. I watched with my wife and two high school daughters ... we all enjoyed it. Of course, if you're "sophisticated" you might sneer at this film -- but take it for what it is, a simple story with a talented young cast (the star, Jena Malone, is refreshing!), and you'll find it's worth the time spent to watch it and the money spent to rent it. If there's anything to criticize, it's the film's short length. They could have done much more with it in a longer format. However, that's a minor criticism. Overall the film is solid and enjoyable.
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Terrific first half, then loses its edge
anhedonia2 August 2004
Despite losing its punch in the latter stages, "Saved!" remains an enjoyable and viciously funny satire. Poking fun of judgmental fundamentalists really isn't that tough a task or groundbreaking. They tend to spoof themselves. But what writers Brian Dannelly (who also directed) and Michael Urban do is not ridicule the fundamentalists' beliefs but their awful behavior. And that definitely deserves to be satirized.

The first 50 minutes are sensational, brimming with pointed dialogue, terrific humor and sharp observations about the preposterous idea of "degayification," the real reason people are sent to deprogramming centers and these teens obviously missing the true meaning of Christ's message.

But the film falters in the third act when it veers from clever satire to preaching about intolerance. It's a noble idea, but the punchy writing gets forsaken for the message. And the film concludes with a tired denouement. Surely, there are more original ways to conclude a high school film than one seen many times before.

Some of the characters, I suppose, could be seen as stereotypes. Then again, speaking from personal experience, the Hillary Fayes of this world exist and they're every bit as judgmental and nasty as she is. Unfortunately, Mandy Moore goes over-the-top a bit, often turning Hillary Faye into a broad caricature. That's a shame. Reining Moore in would have done wonders, because the other performances are uniformly good.

Macaulay Culkin turns in a fine performance as Roland. He finally might have shed his "Home Alone" image, proving he's capable of perfectly delivering sharp, well-written dialogue. The other revelation is young Eva Amurri, who has all the attitude, spunk (and I hope much of the talent) of her mother. She gives Cassandra a delightfully anarchic spirit; the film soars whenever she's on screen.

One peeve: Why does the radiant and sexy Mary-Louise Parker dress down so much in this film?

People who are judgmental about gays, teen pregnancy, other religions, and see life's myriad issues in purely black and white terms likely will be offended by this film - they might see themselves manifested as Hillary Faye. But if you appreciate life's gray areas and take delight in biting satire, you're bound to enjoy this film.

"Saved!" is by no means an attack on Christianity. Quite the contrary. It shows the importance of stressing in our lives the true side of Christianity - one that's about compassion, love and tolerance, and not the biased, judgmental approach that seeks to take control and bastardize religion, whatever it may be.

Although "Saved!" deals primarily with Christianity, it proves we'd all be better off adopting Mahatma Gandhi's ideals – that each and every one of us is a Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist and Jew.
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You don't have to be down with G-O-D to know Saved is hilarious!
super_smiley8917 January 2005
Saved! is a movie that will get to the hearts of people everywhere. It so poignantly captures the hardships and comedies of being a teenage girl.

Jena Malone is Mary, a typical teen attending a Christian school. After finding out her boyfriend is gay, a vision of Jesus provokes her to "cure" him by sleeping with him. But when Christian Mary finds out that she is pregnant, all hell breaks loose! She tries to hide the pregnancy, but it becomes difficult. Mary is shunned by her outgoing and devoutly Christian friend Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore), and finds solace with the uniquely rebellious Cassandra (Eva Amurri), who also happens to be the only Jew in the school. Mary also finds a friend in Patrick (Patrick Fugit), the pastor's son. Mary puts up with a lot from Hilary Faye and her friends trying to save her- even the pastor gets involved: "I want you to help" ... "You mean shoot her?" "No... I was thinking something a little less 'gangsta'". But when Hilary Faye goes too far, Cassandra, Mary, Patrick, and Hilary Faye's cool but wheelchair-bound brother Roland (Macaulay Culkin) team up to let Hilary Faye know that she can be "down with G-O-D", but has to be understanding of others as well.

The movie is full of hilarious lines and activities, but it remains believable. Malone portrays a typical teenager who is just trying to fit in and have fun despite her differences. Parts of the movie had me cracking up and quoting it for days on end, other parts were tear-provokingly sweet. As a whole, Saved! is one movie that you can't afford to miss. It just may save us all.
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Decent film that pansies out a little at the end
Bungle-924 March 2005
I saw the trailers for this movie a looooong time ago and was very interested to see it, though I never got around to it. Now I've finally watched it and I'm happy that I did. In my view, this is essentially a movie about some of the issues with fundamentalism - it's not a complete panning of the Christian faith at all, let's get that straight!

I think everyone in the movie filled their roles particularly well, especially Mandy Moore as the obsessive Hilary Faye. Jena Malone grows on me more and more every time I see her, and this time was no exception. She was good in her small role in Contact, which I have to say I liked a bit more. Macaulay Culkin was also surprisingly good in his role - I didn't see "The Guy that was Kevin", but rather I saw is character. Some of the stuff he did and said was very funny too, like much of this movie.

My issue would be that the film pansies out a little at the end. To get me, you'd really have to watch it yourself. Just when you think the film might be going a certain direction, it turns back on itself to cover it's own behind.

Overall, entertaining and funny with good performances overall. More Jena Malone please.
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Great Movie
cshiroma0826 December 2004
This movie was fantastic. For those who have ever attended a Christian school, this hits all of the daily ironies that made those four years interesting. If you never have been in a Christian school, it adds a unique portrayal of the rigid nature of religion while confronting current controversial issues. I saw for the first time in the theater and could not stop laughing, so much so I had to buy it the minute it came out. One of my absolute favorite things about this movie was seeing the actors and actresses play roles contrary to their usual choices. Mandy Moore is superb and truly understands the role of Hillary Faye. I love this movie and recommend to anyone that can handle new forms of humor.
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Meaner Girls
CuriosityKilledShawn31 October 2004
Saved is very funny satire/comedy-drama on whacked-out Christian fundamentalists.

Basically at a Christian High-School (which is about as narrow-minded, hypocritical and contradicting as my own was) there is this clique of girls called the 'Christian Jewels', which are not to dissimilar from 'The Plastics' in Mean Girls. Every girl wants to be a part of the Jewels, including geeky, desperate Tia (Heather Matarazazazazazo rehashing her role from Welcome to the Dollhouse). I would find her attractive if she hadn't dyed her hair an unconvincing blonde. Too bad she's er...married.

After earning her way into this clique Mary (Jena Malone) is devastated when her boyfriend confesses his massive gayness. Eager to 'cure' him of this ungodly condition Mary offers up her virginity to him, only to get pregnant. Obviously this bun in the oven secret threatens to tear everyone's flimsy little world apart.

Hilary Faye, the leader of the Christian Jewels is appalled at Mary's sudden lack of faith and makes it her mission to save her, whatever the method or cost. Obviously Mary doesn't appreciate this and it only drives her to further isolation.

Saved is superior to Mean Girls in terms of relevance and wit. Though I'm afraid the target audience will no doubt pass this over in favor for Miss Lohan as discussion of God and the lack of pink will fail to attract as young an audience.

The acting is great. Jena Malone is more of an actress than Lohan/Duff, Macaulay Culkin was effective as the wheelchair-bound Roland, Mandy Moore is so innocently evil as Hilary Faye she makes Regina George look timid and Eva Amurri is like so totally gorgeous! Seriously! Wow! Too bad she smokes. NEXT!

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Saved to anyone. It's funny and clever and outdoes all 'teen-comedies' by transcending the genre. A rarity indeed.
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Beautiful Movie
prjorge28 November 2004
Saved! is one of this year's best movies. It is a movie showing some hypocrisy of some Christians. It's not pointing out the flaws of Christianity, but the hypocrisy of some Christians.

In the beginning, we are introduced to Mary (Jena Malone) who is a good Christian. Her boyfriend confesses to her underwater that he is gay. Upon hearing this, Mary tries to get back to the top, but hits her head on the ladder (Ouch!). While she is unconscious, she has a vision where Jesus tells her to help Dean. Mary takes this message the wrong way and winds up getting pregnant. She turns her back on her clique and is utterly friendless, although Patrick (Patrick Fugit) tries to ask her out on dates and stuff. She finds friends in the most unlikely of persons - outcasts. It turns out the only "sane" people are the outcasts.

I enjoyed this movie very much. I loved Jena Malone, she is beautiful and her acting was awesome! I find it funny that the roles of Cassandra and Hilary Faye were switched. Cassandra was cruel and evil and Hilary was the perfect Christian. As the movie plays out, the roles switch where Cassandra has a heart of gold and is compassionate, while Hilary has a heart of hatred, evil, and greed. The jokes in this movie were subtle, but I laugh at those parts. I think the most hilarious part is when she goes up to the cross and says "Shit" which was quite random, but it did make sense after she said "Goddamn" because she was expecting an intervention of some sort.

10/10. Beautiful movie. I've seen it 8 times in a week already. The music for this movie is incredible.
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mild but entertaining satire of religious intolerance
cherold23 April 2006
As satires go, this is a pretty fluffy one. The script feels like it was written by someone who believes in God and wants to gently chastise and mock self-righteous born agains in hopes that they will see the error of their ways and acknowledge the hypocrisy of damning everyone to hell who deviates from their narrow world view.

Vat chance for that, but it is a likable, funny movie. There's not much in the way of story, but the characters are likable and there are some good performances, most surprisingly by Macauley Culkin, who apparently has taken some acting classes somewhere along the way. Mandy Moore is also quite entertaining as the most self-righteous Christian of the bunch (and I like her singing of the song over the opening credits - I think sh'es a professional singer, isn't she?) While a bit more bite and a bit more story would have made a better movie, this one is quite pleasant and worth watching.
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a satire that treats its subjects with respect
colettesplace14 March 2006
Watching over-the-top US comedy Saved! is like stumbling into an alternate universe as perturbing, in its own way, as Richard Kelly's cult hit Donnie Darko.

At American Eagle Christian High School, where Christian is all there is, it's the zealots who top the teen totem pole. Among them is Mary (Jena Malone) who's headed for a fabulous senior year with her best friend and leader of the Christian Jewels, Hilary-Faye (Mandy Moore), a mulleted gun-toting Barbie drowning in blue eye shadow. But when Mary falls pregnant to her gay boyfriend Dean (Chad Faust) after surrendering her virginity to save him in the belief it will be miraculously restored, she's an outcast. While Chad's sent off to Mercy House, Mary befriends the 'freaks': Hilary-Faye's wheelchair-bound brother (Macaulay Culkin) and his troublemaker girlfriend Cassandra (Eva Amurri), the only Jewish girl in school. Meanwhile, Mary's Christian Interior Decorator of the Year mum (Mary-Louise Parker) begins a tentative romance with charismatic school principal Pastor Skip (Martin Donovan).

Director Brian Dannelly, who co-wrote the script with Michael Urban, wanted to satirise the intensity of teen Christian worship, where fainting at prayer meetings is not uncommon. Performances are good across the board, but Mandy Moore almost steals the film with her outrageous Hilary-Faye.

Saved! is an enjoyable teen comedy that has some important subtexts: it argues for tolerance of diversity, and the importance of looking beneath the superficial when choosing friends. It embraces families that differ from the traditional nuclear model and demonstrates why sex education is needed. But what's best about Saved! is that the characters don't abandon their faith, simply incorporate it into a more tolerant world view. Whether you're a Christian, atheist or something different, Saved! will gently amuse without overwhelming you with political correctness.
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Saw this on opening day and...
nolanjwerner4 June 2004
I actually watched this film again a couple days ago and I am editing my comments.

First, I am changing my vote to 10 out of 10.

With the third act of the film, I thought it actually worked. I had my doubts about it earlier but after seeing it again, I actually thought that it came out with a much more positive message and I was wrong about the end taking an easy out. I think that the film actually gave a very uplifting and realistic message about where faith should be.

Actually watching the film on DVD with all of the extras enhanced my viewing experience. I suppose when I went in the theatre I was expecting it to be a dark comedy so that may explain some of my opinions in the first review. It actually worked much better for me the second time.

I do still wish that there were one little scene to wrap up Mandy Moore's character arc though.

MY ORIGINAL REVIEW: I think that this just might make my top 10 of the year.

I honestly think that this was one of the best films in a long time to deliver any kind of religious message, particularly an alternative to the absolutist fundamentalist messages that are so prevalent. Addressing the 'anti-Christian' issue, it is more 'anti-Fundamentalist' then anything else, the only people who could see sacrilege in there would be dour and humorless religious zealots (who see sacrilege and persecution in everything and everyone except themselves). While it does poke fun at the subculture, it never does so in a disrespectful manner. This film, like The Shape of Things, is really a good litmus test for a person, you can tell a lot about them based on how they react to it.

The acting was excellent all around in the film and there were some hilariously clever moments including one that the entire theatre laughed for about fifteen seconds.

If there is a weakness to the film then it would be the end. The end got a bit heavy handed at times and many of the plots are resolved in a manner that is far too easy and light to fit in with the tone of the rest of the film. I wish that there would have been a little more to it and a better resolution for Mandy Moore's character.

Overall though, I would rank this film as a must see, particularly the kind of film you would bring a friend to, one who is getting a bit too serious about his religion.

Kudos to everyone involved on this film.
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Clichéd stereotypes
sallytomato10025 August 2007
The non Christians who were involved in this production probably never stepped inside a church in their lives yet they feel free to dump on believers in Christ as a lunatic fringe and not the majority. It's non-believers who are in the minority in this country. A little perspective please.

Go into most churches today and you generally see white haired little old ladies and gentlemen and their simple families humbly reading the Bible, praying for others, collecting donations to help missions and the community, worshipping Jesus Christ and laughing, singing, fellowshipping. What is it about this humble group that so offends the elite non-believing hypocrites in Hollywood? That we don't vote the way you vote? That we don't all have the money you have?

This is just another blind attempt to lump all believers who care about biblical truth and morality into some fantasy group that has never existed. Most Christians would step in front of a truck and give their lives for any person in trouble, even a liberal. No man hath any greater love than this, that he give up his life for his friends. Most Christians would help an unwed pregnant girl in trouble, not condemn her. This film is ridiculous.

Maybe if the producers of this inept stereotypical film set foot in a church someday they might discover how wrong they were. Maybe they'd even find God themselves. What a concept!
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No Real Controversy in Dannely's Gospel
sams00423 November 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I will first say that this parody can be enjoyed by Christian and non-Christian alike. As a believer and erstwhile fundamentalist, I get a kick out of all the hokeyness that parades around in megachurches and pop-Christianity today. (Possible spoiler) Particularly telling is Pastor Skip's comment on Christian music; that although there is little difference between the Christian and secular, the plan is just to get people inside to hit them with the Gospel message. Compare this with Hillary Faye literally "hitting" Mary with the Bible, and you see the point. She has lost the meaning of the message in her zeal to present it. So given that this spiritual climate is a present reality sometimes, I understand why the non-Christian crowd could have a blast with the film.

However, I was bothered by the watered-down view of Christianity that the movie presents. It seems Jesus now embraces everyone, regardless of sexual, lifestyle, or religious preference. Just come to the wide, outstretched arms of pop-Jesus, and no matter what you do, everything will be all right in the end--even if you decide not to come. After all, isn't God simply love?

And this is my only beef with *Saved!*. If you are going to satirize something like someone's religious beliefs, at least make sure you get the basic message straight. By the end of the movie, we're left with a parody of what Brian Dannely and Michael Stipe believe fundamentalist Christianity to be. (Spoiler) The closing moments of the film feature Mary with child, surrounded by a circle of the "redeemed." (Spoiler) Meanwhile the fundamentalists, Pastor Skip, who is now a dithering idiot, and Hillary, shipped off to a hospital and perhaps a mental ward, are left out. It seems that in the gospel according to Dannely, we've been misled for 2000 years, and tolerance is really what Jesus was all about. The film does a good job of revealing what we all know: no one is perfect. However, lost in the movie is the understanding that Christ really wanted us to do something about that fact, not just dwell in some zen-like realization of it.

Overall, I gave the movie a 7/10. The Christian should watch it to contemplate his image in the world, and the non-Christian will have all his suspicions confirmed.
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Kind of boring and without a real point
Tecun_Uman25 January 2006
I am not sure I understand what the point of this movie was, other than to mock Christianity. I mean, the "cool" anti-heroes" that spend all of their time rejecting Christianity are pretty unlikable themselves. Then we have the George Bush Christians that are equally unlikable. Every once in awhile, we get a brief glance at some other supporting characters that don't seem to have any real defined role in the movie. I have to be honest, I got bored. I am certainly not a Super Christain, so I am not going to condemn the film for being anti-religion, even though it is. However, I am not going to embrace the three rebels in this film that seem to stand for nothing or believe in anything. It is a rather empty film that attempts to parody the zealots that we find so often in America, but not make any real point beyond that.
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Unintelligent, witless trash
DarthBob18 October 2004
I'm a Christian, but I like to think I can take a joke.

"Saved" is a joke, but not in the way it's producers intended.

While mascarading as a morality play on "fundamentalist" Christians who take their faith too seriously, "Saved" succeeds mainly at portraying even nominally serious Christians as hand- swaying, verse chirping buffoons while atheistic relativists are the truly compassionate heroes.

I've seen Christianity satirized in a funny way and I think God can take a joke (although I do draw the line at portraying Jesus as a poolboy-which happens in an early scene in "Saved"). But check out any number of "Simpsons" episodes featuring Ned Flanders prominently. Clearly, unlike the writers of "Saved", the "Simpsons" writers have done their homework (and some may even be believers themselves). Satire always requires a solid-element of truth (even when dealing with stereotypes) in order to make it work. It even requires a degree of sympathy for that which it is satirizing (see the Christopher Guest "mockumentaries"). "Saved" has none of that, and simply relies on sweeping generalizations of those it deems "too intolerant" in their faith.

The movie is also just poorly made, poorly cast, poorly acted, poorly written and poorly edited. Scenes which linger should have been cut sooner (Cassandra's "speaking in tongues" scene comes to mind). Others don't last long enough or give us enough information about any of the characters motivations. It's often as though the movie can't decide what it wants to be- a satirical comedy or a WB style teen drama. It seems like it switches between those two every other scene.

Although this is technically a "comedy" most of the jokes fall totally flat. "Saved" is devoid of any true wit and instead relies on typical teen comedy style jokes (usually involving sex of course.)

I agree that Christians should be loving and accepting, but must it be at the expense of righteousness? Do we trade righteous living for moral relativism, situational ethics and spiritual ambiguity?

The movie could have given us a more mature and fair answer (to both fundamentalists and those more "liberal" in their faith). Instead it gives us a tired, tired I'm okay you're okay message that leaves more questions about faith then answers.

One of the worst movies made in the last ten years.
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Mandy Moore is a Revelation and "Saved!" is Hilarious
mbworm5 May 2008
Jena Malone is perfect as Mary, the girl who attends American Eagle Christian School with the perfect posse and perfect boyfriend Dean. Except her whole life begins to unravel when Dean confesses that he's gay. After she has a vision of Jesus underwater (when she hits her head on the ladder in her pool), she believes that her mission is to save Dean and in doing so she loses her virginity to him. After Dean's parents discover he is gay, they send him to "Mercy House" and Mary is left alone.

When she thinks that her best friend Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore) and her clique of "Christian Jewels" will support her through this hard time, Hilary Faye begins to make insane accusations and turns the school against Mary. Hilary Faye is an extreme Christian who finds any reason to make herself and her values look better than those who don't follow God, or more outright, her. Mandy Moore is hysterical and she really personifies the character, once again proving that she's got more promise in the acting field than music. (Although she's pretty much set for both). She's got great range and when it's called for to be a bitch, she's got the sharpest claws you could hope for, and she can pull off her hypocritical character with a sense of false sugary sweetness at the same time.

I already knew that Jena Malone had skills and she's definitely proved here that she can take more serious roles. Not to mention her recent performance in "The Ruins", Jena is a great actor who plays well alongside the supporting actors including the weird Macaulay Culkin and the refreshing but over the top Eva Ammuri. They play the rejects, the outcasts who take Mary in when Hilary Faye begins her whole vendetta against her. As Mary's baby grows and the story progresses, no Christian stereotype or character can dodge the teeth of this sharp satire, and Saved! is dead on hilarious. Most kudos go to Mandy Moore for her hilarious turn as Hilary Faye, and may she find more serious roles in the film industry.
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Porcelain Goddess of the Virtue Police
bkoganbing5 January 2008
Some twenty years earlier the movie Heaven Help Us came out and it was to Catholic schools what Saved is to Protestant ones. Both were well received by the generations of movie goers who saw them in first run at theaters.

Young Jena Malone gets a double dose of trauma in her life. First her boyfriend Chad Faust confesses he's gay to her. In the Christian school they go to that's a ticket to exile or at least to one of those reorientation centers.

But then Jena nearly drowns during swimming and as she's in the pool with her life supposed to be flashing before her eyes, she gets a vision of Jesus who commands her to sacrifice her virginity in order to save Chad from the horrible sin of homosexuality.

That sacrifice turns out to be quite costly as a memento of the event is left behind. Jena tries mightily to get through that senior year before being discovered. Especially with Mandy Moore who's the self appointed head of the virtue police.

The cast of Saved is young and appealing, but when Mandy Moore as Hillary Faye is on the screen she steals the film completely. She's a modern version of the porcelain goddess that Cary Grant talked about in The Philadelphia Story. Ms. Moore succeeds both in being hateful, but yet you feel sorry for her because this virtue police is her whole empty life.

About three years ago I was vacationing in San Antonio and one morning in front of The Alamo I and others were greeted by about fifty young people from a local Christian school. They were out there on school time and under school supervision giving out religious tracts, being trained as young evangelists. They were earnest and bright eyed and sought to engage me in some religious dialog which I fended off. I thought about the movie Saved at that point because I KNEW that somewhere in that group there were a few Mandy Moores. And I was even more certain that there was at least one Chad Faust who while giving out his tracts was dealing with some unwanted feelings for the same gender.

Let's say that it works out a lot better for all concerned in this film than it does for a lot of the Chad Fausts in real life. Saved is an entertaining film with some valuable lessons to be learned watching it.
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Maybe a spoiler, but I don't think so...:A new look at extreme evangelical Christian private schools in America- can you tell what is exaggerated and what is not?
astropuffus13 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I love this movie because it is smart, funny, well written, and has a great cast. My favorite is Amurri, who plays the "only Jewish" (not a typo), a rebel in a rich evangelical private school that could be anywhere in the US.

I think what makes this movie seem exaggerated and unrealistic to a few people is that the movie has taken so many extremes and put them all in one spot. It is also a view into a world that most people never see. There really are schools that have pep rallies that look like revivals; there are some Christians who are quite openly homophobic, like Moore's character.

A few of the scenes are awkward, such as the scene in which Dean looks at a pornographic magazine, but I think that they may be intensionally awkward because it is, after all, a teen movie and teens are awkward. The movie seems to straddle the fence between a movie with a leading character and an ensemble cast. Clearly Mary (Jena Malone) is the main story, but the other characters also have strong stories and conflicts as well.

I suggest watching it a few times before solidifying your opinion because you will catch things differently the second or third time around. The lessons clearly are that people do not fit neatly into one little box or another; sometimes those who are supposed to love you are mean, and sometimes the mean people are the ones who are the kindest to you.
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Funny religious satire, but a tad too cliché
siderite7 May 2006
Now, this movie started with original good quality humour. Too bad it almost completely stopped after the presentation of the set, after which it transformed into a typical high school teenage comedy.

Don't get me wrong, this is a good movie, and definitely better than most films of the genre, but it promised too much in the end to really enjoy the ending. Besides, it is successfully bashing religious hypocrisy, so it can't be too bad, can it? :)

I thought Jena Malone was good in her role, but I don't really like her. Mandy Moore again is playing the prom queen type: visually stunning, having it all except human character. I like her and I think after the role in A Walk to Remember, she showed she has the stuff to be more than a pop singer. She'd better not get stuck in the beautiful but fake cliché. Now, a nice surprising role came from Macaulay Culkin, now obviously having outgrown the child-actor cage he was cast in. I am happy to see him back on the saddle after his last notable role in the 1994 stupidity Richie Rich. The film also features Martin Donovan, an actor that you can easily notice in all his movies, but has never made it to stardom.

In conclusion, this is a film for both religion haters and religion freaks alike. It shows a lot of fakes posing as Jesus lovers and how they eventually get exposed, but also real like like situations that could easily break the obtuse and rigid belief systems of some.

Watch it.
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Babylon rising?
makeitasoulparty28 May 2004
This movie is an incredibly clever piece of propaganda....very well thought out.

The message is "it's okay to be a Christian as long as you don't really believe in it, if you do you're nuts and should be hated with a passion." Nothing but a Hitleresque hate-bombing from start to finish....with the technology and techniques available to today's propagandists it's frightening to think what will happen in the future...

I wish the people who "love" this movie would investigate Bible prophesy...because I'm beginning to think that films like this are inevitable to prepare the younger generation to follow the "antichrist"....I wish that wasn't the case but if more stuff like this gets mainstream approval It's going to make a believer out of me....

no one learns from history....
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Unpleasantly surprised
dan_0019 February 2005
I just watched this movie with the family. We thought it was of the worst we've seen in a long time. The trailer and previews made it seem like it was going to be a teen comedy that spoofed evangelicals and private school. Instead it wasn't funny. It wasn't serious. It was just a bunch of people running around preaching how they loved Jesus. I felt very misled, yet we left it playing hoping it might develop into something better. The best part about Saved is that it is short in duration, so we only had to endure 90 minutes or so.

This movie is like when you go to what you think is a party and when you arrive you realize it's an Amway event. You don't want to stay but you feel like you can't leave. In the end, it just leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
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Awful, awful film
Ajax16095 January 2010
Well I shall keep this short because reading lengthy negative reviews does get quite depressing and tiresome after a while. This movie is truly terrible on so many levels; the lack of any gripping storyline, the lack of any likable characters, the preachiness that seems to ingrain this film at every possible level amongst other problems.

Anyone watching this must prepare themselves for a film that is so boring and so unradical in any way that they will feel that they have watched it a thousand times before and that is where this film fails. There is nothing new or unique here, it is all recycled from other other films, and it feels recycled as a result.

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Interesting in many ways
TheOtherFool17 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
After watching 'Saved', a rather unfamiliar satire of Christianity crossed with a high-school comedy/drama, I found myself rather puzzled of the intentions of the makers and the meaning of this movie. When reading some of the external reviews presented, I found both the point of Rogert Ebert as well as James Berardinelli interesting, meaningful, and true in it's own merit.

While Berardinelli is slamming this movie as anti-Christian, claiming 'Saved! treats religion as a disease, not a life choice', the (often overly positive) Ebert concludes that 'by the end of the movie, mainstream Christian values have not been overthrown, but demonstrated and embraced'. Two completely different views on this movie, but after watching it I felt both claims to be somewhat true.

Let's start with the beginning. Christian teen Mary (Jena Malone) is confronted by her boyfriend that he's gay. She thinks she can 'cure' him by having sex with her, but things all go wrong from there. He is being put away in some sort of center to get rid of his 'gayness', while Mary turns out to be pregnant.

From that moment on, Mary starts having doubts with some of the Christian values she grew up with. She more and more starts rejecting friend and as beautiful as knowing all as bitchy Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore), and starts hanging out with some of the other outcasts, such as crippled Roland (Macauly Culkin) and no good, smoking Jewish girl Cassandra (Eva Amurri). Other characters who play a significant role are Mary's mother, Pastor Skip who she has an eye for and his son, Patrick (Patrick Fugit).

So that's the outline right there. Now what does this movie intend? Throughout the movie the main issue is Christian hypocrisy. Hilary Faye says she wants to save everybody so they can become 'good Christians', but meanwhile is treating some of her friends like dirt. Pastor Skip preaches that one should love another like yourself, but condemns homosexuality. Furthermore it seems he, as a married man, has feelings for Mary's mother.

This is all a pretty one-sided and inconclusive view on Christianity, agreed. The question you need to ask yourself is: is this pure satirical comedy, or is it truly meant as anti-Christian. After answering that question you can also ask yourself if Christians should be offended watching this film.

Those aren't simple questions. At times, you feel the movie is going somewhere. It's when Hilary Faye is throwing a bible at Mary, who responds by holding it in her hand shouting 'This is not a weapon!'. It's when Mary's gay boyfriend from the beginning comes to the prom with his boyfriend, claiming that 'God wants us to be different and think for ourselves' (I lost the exact words, but it came down to this). It's at times as this, and the more comical scenes (Pastor Skip's 'getting down with Jesus' or Mary's friends trying to do an exorcism on her) the movie most definitely is watchable.

But, at other times, 'Saved' is unfairly attacking Christians as being hypocritical, narrow-minded and downright mean. The movie should have been more balanced on that point. Maybe it should have pictured the struggles of Pastor Skip in this better. Furthermore, making Hilary Faye such a bitchy character in the end was way over the top, even though Mandy Moore is playing her character with joy and success. Maybe one of those new actresses who somehow are all singing as well finally can act as well.

I started out with the two views of 'Saved' one can have, and I still haven't found out for myself with who I agree more. So I think I'll just sit between Mr. Berardinelli and Mr. Ebert. I dunno, we could chat about the movies I guess...

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