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Overall Rating
3.75

Awesome: 22.37%
Worth A Look46.05%
Average: 22.37%
Pretty Bad: 2.63%
Total Crap: 6.58%

6 reviews, 40 user ratings


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Saved!
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by Robert Flaxman

"A solid film that should have been a little less nasty."
4 stars

Like Kevin Smith's 1999 religion-infused comedy Dogma, Brian Dannelly's Saved! operates on a line. On one side of the line is organized religion, and on the other side, righteous non-belief. The line itself represents the idea that faith on its own terms is a positive thing. Both films fall towards the righteous non-belief side while at the same time managing not to decry the mere idea of faith or spirituality, going for a message of "religion isn't always great, but faith is a positive thing," but Saved! is a bit more vicious when it comes to taking on religion, and this hurts it as a film.

Dogma confined most of its direct attack on religion to the portrayal of Cardinal Glick, played by George Carlin, described as the kind of guy "who would bless his own clubs for a better golf game." While utterly sanctimonious, Glick's worst crime is not believing that Linda Fiorentino and Chris Rock were sent by God, which while ultimately fatal hardly seems damning. On the other hand, consider Saved!'s Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore), portrayed as a two-faced, self-obsessed character who'd be better served in Mean Girls' high school than at the evangelical Christian academy in Saved!. In a rather unsubtle move, she is also by far the most Bible-thumping character presented to us. In addition, Mary (Jena Malone), our supposed heroine, starts off the movie by being crushingly naive, to the extent that she thinks Jesus has told her to sleep with her boyfriend to cure him of his homosexual urges. That's right, kids: evangelical Christians are either mean or stupid, or maybe both.

Of course, Mary gets pregnant from her encounter, an event which sets the movie in the right direction. Rather than spending time mocking the Bible-thumpers, the film chooses to hang them indirectly by making the characters whose relationship to religion is far shakier be the good ones. There's Roland (Macaulay Culkin), Hilary Faye's wheelchair-bound brother, who describes himself as "not Christian"; there's Cassandra (Eva Amurri), the gothy Jewish girl who only attends the school because she's been kicked out of every other one; and there's Patrick (Patrick Fugit), the pastor's son who is involved in religion more actively than the others but who is entirely non-judgmental in a way that his father, Pastor Skip (Martin Donovan), and Hilary Faye are not.

Yes, an indirect attack is still an attack. But there's a big difference between filling up the screen with caricatures and giving us nicely-drawn characters to whom it's easy to relate. After a rocky start, and before an overly-preachy ending where Dannelly doesn't believe we could get the message from the film's first 80 minutes and decides to beat us over the head with dialogue, the film's middle portion is both sweet and touching, even if the evident suggestion is that eschewing religion (or at least significantly questioning it) is the only way to get to that point.

Saved! works in a lot of places, though it's neither as funny nor as subversive as it seems to think it is, it cops out on the plot featuring the relationship between Mary's mother (Mary-Louise Parker) and Pastor Skip, and it throws in a warm-fuzzy ending that it hasn't entirely earned. Really, the film works best as a coming-of-age story with religious undertones; its point might have been better served by being a little less obvious and a little less mean-spirited in places. What had the potential to be a very effective teen melodrama was undercut a bit by filmmakers with an ideological axe to grind.

link directly to this review at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8517&reviewer=385
originally posted: 10/10/04 19:36:54
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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

1/11/10 art ONLY WATCH IT IF YOU HAVE AN OPEN-MIND! 2 stars
10/03/09 art TERRIBLE! 1 stars
5/09/09 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
2/12/08 art A REAL DEEP DRAMAEDY MANDY MOORE IS A HAM as HILLIARY FAYE but the star is miss malone 4 stars
11/11/06 David Pollastrini all the women in this film are hot! 5 stars
12/03/05 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
6/23/05 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
11/21/04 conor the great wusses out in the end 3 stars
11/09/04 Taylor Fladgate Whew...too much like my youth to be funny... 3 stars
9/27/04 alicia quite funny if you can empathsize, but completely falls apart with a hollywood prom ending 3 stars
9/10/04 John Aster Habig Get it on DVD October 5th along with Fahrenheit 9/11 5 stars
8/28/04 Naka Funny, intelligent look at Christianity. Not offensive to the intelligent crowd. 5 stars
8/28/04 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
7/04/04 Kris Hate fest toward Christians 1 stars
7/03/04 John Aster Habig an honor to satire 5 stars
6/22/04 Kristen The best movie I've ever seen! 5 stars
6/19/04 ajay i laughed quite a bit... very funny. 5 stars
6/19/04 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
6/17/04 Joe Parts were amatuerish but definately a must see 4 stars
6/17/04 wintermute not a waste of time, but mediocre at best. amurri was a nice surprise 3 stars
6/13/04 Pretentious Bastard The ending's annoying, but it's pretty entertaining - 3.5/5 3 stars
6/13/04 Lurlene Jacobs Love the Moozlem, Hate the Moozlem-isms 1 stars
6/09/04 carlybarly MY FAVORITE MOVIE OF THE YEAR!!! GREAT!!! 5 stars
6/04/04 James Zucker super effort by director and cameramen 5 stars
6/03/04 JERRY silly 1 stars
5/30/04 Jeffrey Excellent movie 5 stars
5/27/04 Ray The master of teen flicks 5 stars
4/24/04 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
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  28-May-2004 (R)
  DVD: 05-Oct-2004

UK
  N/A

Australia
  28-Oct-2004




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