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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