Saved! - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Saved! Reviews

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½ September 7, 2016
I was expecting this to be mean spirited mockery of religion and religious people, but it is actually a good natured satire of religious extremism. Furthermore, using the teen genre is a perfect fit for the altogether wacky awkwardness. I liked it.
August 25, 2016
Hilarious, thought-provoking, and sweet. Just like The Book of Mormon, it's less about making fun of a religion and more about pointing out the difference between theoretical and empirical theology (and being disappointed when things don't go as planned).
½ August 12, 2016
Every so often a teen oriented film comes on the scene. While the typical teen flick is a series of sexual romps, drugs and popular music Saved tries to focus a satirical eye on the growing movement in America, the Christian right. Even though 'Saved' avoids these staples there are a few remnants there. The film centers on the most brutal aspects in high school; the clique. These group associations that determine your social position for four years and frequently far beyond graduation. There have been many movies that have undertaken to address this often painful influence on the rite of passage that is high school. While some films have concentrated of that despotic queen bee of the alpha clique this film adds another dimension to the mixture; evangelical, right wing Christians. While fundamentally identical to the type of clique leader seen in movies like 'Mean Girls', here they justify their obnoxious and condescending behavior with their interpretation of their faith. By instilling the center plot with a religious foundation the filmmaker was able to address such ancillary themes as homophobia, antisemitism and discrimination against the physically challenged. This is quite ambitious for a teen comedy but ultimately it succeeds amazingly well.

In the 'American Eagle Christian High School' the leader of the pack is Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore), a devoted young woman who expresses her faith in song with her singing group the Christian Jewels. She filters everything in life through her faith, not necessarily a bad thing but as with anything aspect of life without balance, can lead to a lack of control. One member of the in Christian crowd, Mary (Jenna Malone) soon finds a real test of her faith when her boyfriend Dean (Chad Faust) announces that he is gay. Mary has a bump to the head induced "vision" that Jesus wants her to sacrifice her precious virginity in order to affect the "degayification" of the now doomed Dean. Of course, Mary is certain that Jesus will take into account her noble purpose and restore her to a chase and pristine state. Unfortunately, Mary is soon looking down at the dreaded blue strip on a home pregnancy test. While Dean is shipped off to a reorientation center Mary is now ostracized by her former best friends. Meanwhile, the one Jewish girl around, Cassandra (Eva Amurri) forms a friendship with Hilary's wheelchair bound and cynical brother Roland (Macaulay Culkin). There are enough inter-relationships here for several films. When Hilary turns against Mary as a result of her changed biological status one of the truly memorable moments of the film occurs, during a heated argument Hillary tosses a Bible at Mary's back while shouting "I'm full of the love of Christ". This instant crystalized Hilary's hypocrisy in such an efficient and concise manner that it impact is unforgettable.

Usually, for a satire to work it has to be tightly focused. Here, however, there is a bit too much of a crowd on the scene. The many ancillary characters tend to obfuscate the plot. The film tries to be a combination of Mean Girls and the Breakfast Club but ultimately ends up just a bit too over the top. The focus here is venom over humor. While the film is an important work for what it is attempting to do it could have been tighter in structure and achieved more than it musters here. Any group that embraces extremes is subject to satirical treatment but that parody should be without malice and done in a good nature format in order to garner a wider audience. Here the girls are so extreme that the subtler points are often lost. The extremism also leaves the audience without a point of reference required to identify on an emotional level with the characters. Despite the flaws I still found this to be an enjoyable film, carried to a large part by the enthusiasm of a talented cast.

I have been a fan of young Jenna Malone for most of her career. With films like 'Donnie Darko', 'Bastard out of Carolina', 'Cheaters' and most recently a featured role in one of the most successful franchises to come from young adventure literature,' The Hunger Games', it is obvious that she is continuing to successfully expand the range of her acting abilities. The intensity she has exhibited in other performances was subdued in this role as a result of how her character was written. In several scenes Ms. Malone was overwhelmed by others in the cast. Of course this is a perfect way of presenting her character, Mary, she has been inundated with a number of serious situations that are beyond her experience therefore leaving her ill equipped to process how to proceed. It also serves to create an ideal contrast with the intensity of self-importance that is the embodiment of

Mandy Moore is in the midst of a rare thing, a pop singer that is growing as an actress. Initially she took on more sympathetic, softer roles but here she rips into the zealous venom of Hilary. She has a natural comic timing and to her credit is willing to take on darker roles like this. Macaulay Culkin is, of course, best known for Home Alone. He also is taking on roles like this that showcase a broader acting ability helping him to make a comeback at his young age and show he has lasting power in film. A special nod of appreciation to the fine actress Heather Matarazzo, I first noticed her in the definitively unconventional teen flick 'Welcome to the Dollhouse'. Here Ms., Matarazzo plays the classic high school geek to perfection. Her experience in independent movies has given her the experience to infuse what is typically a one-dimensional archetype with nuances that makes her charter interesting and capable of contributing to the overall success of the story. Overall the cast creates an ensemble that manifests a synergetic chemistry. This is a film that is carried by the cast and it is their performances that provide the audience with a deliciously dark comedy with a sharp satiric edge that slices into some of the most highly debated issues currently dominating the sociopolitical scene.

This is the freshman feature for writer/director Brian Dannelly. While most of the flaws of the film are in presentation I have to admit he has an eye for pacing a flick. The movie has a natural, organic flow that sweeps the audience along for the ride. Although the many sub plots often cloud the message the film is above others of the genre. The individual scenes are well composed and expertly lit. The message of intolerance is not lost here. After all Jesus did reach out for the misfits first. It appears that Dannelly had so many ideas to bring this point out that he just tried to fit it all in one film. It might have been a bit better off if he created his own little universe here, like the one manufactured in early Kevin Smith films, and make a few films out of the subject matter. This release is part of an incentive undertaken by Olive Films to remaster fan favorites in high definition. There is a substantial improvement in the color palate and contrast which provides a far more robust viewing experience. It is now possible to note gradations in the lighting and use of camera angles and how they reinforce the overall feel and emotional impact of the narrative.
July 1, 2016
Progressive but also restrained. It's a far smarter movie than a lot of its teen movie completion of the time but it still feels like it doesn't fill its shoes.
April 3, 2016
Fun, but not a classic. Had some decent laughs.
February 3, 2016
Full of comedy and definitely plenty of awkwardness.
September 15, 2015
Important for the mind, assuring for the soul, and a great laugh inducer for the body.
½ August 30, 2015
A bit strident of a film, though at the same time not as sharp as it should have been, but I did enjoy it. The film tells the story of Jena Malone and her group of friends at a Christian high school, where she begins to question her faith and the hypocrisy of those around her, particularly those of her Queen Bee friend, Mandy Moore. The film is smart and witty and even features music by The Replacements, who provided music for the Christian rock band who plays at the climactic prom scene. The film has strong performances all around with Heather Matarazzo, Mary-Louise Parker and Malone's mom, Martin Donovan as Pastor Skip and Macaulay Culkin is also quite good in a subdued performance as a darkly funny boy in a wheelchair. Like I said earlier, I always kind of shy away from films that get to preachy, no pun intended, but the likable performances overcome the films films strident script.
July 29, 2015
Why ya gotta pick on the christians in such a funny entertaining movie?
½ June 7, 2015
A smart and perceptive religious satire mixed with humor and sweetness. Saved! is a hugely entertaining and surprisingly charming teen comedy. I really liked it!
May 1, 2015
Decently funny with a simple, but good story.
½ March 2, 2015
A run of the mill teen movie marketed as something more, except that it does have one or two more things going for it. Jena Malone is a terrific actress, a fine lead for any film, but even she can't make this movie any more than it is. The fatuous Pastor Skip, played with clueless earnestness by Martin Donovan, does. He embodies Evangelical superficiality in a way which is kind of funny, but too real to be too funny. Combining this with the zeal exemplified by the Mandy Moore character, Saved hints at the problems which have engulfed Evangelical communities and caused so much pain to its young. I never forgot the scene where the pastor excitedly talks about people being accidentally saved by listening to rock they didn't know was Christian. This is the Evangelical movement: Superficial, legalistic, obsessed with technicalities, driven alternately by fear and the high of zeal, an experience analogous to teenage infatuations, as well as the pressing desire to gain approval from the right people/authorities. No one is more stuck in high school than these folks who cling to biblical text as if it were a yearbook, where they are always the beautiful people.

This indeed is hinting at the darker directions religion can take, but in a fizzy film. When it comes down to it, Saved wants to be a funny and sweet teen movie; it doesn't want to address the the darkest corners of its subject. The friend I saw this with had a sort of cathartic experience. All I came away from it with was the lasting impression of Pastor Skip, certainly far, far away from the darkest or nastiest evocation of Evangelical leadership, but perhaps a more cutting example for not being that dark, heavy character. It is as if he and what he represents is too insubstantial to merit deeper examination. He is the avatar of the self-parody that is the modern evangelical movement, an increasingly insular world ever reducing itself to the ridiculous.
½ January 28, 2015
Good movie to watch on a weekend with the girlfriend or boyfriend , ok more so a slumber party movie with the girls , unless they're not that type of person who likes the sappy stuff , then stay away! The whole religious tone to it starts getting played out a little too much nearing the end. Culkin for some reason in a wheelchair is what I enjoyed most. Feels like Clueless / Lizzie Mcguire movie in a sense , with a bit of a better story structure and nostalgia feel. Hard to believe it's only 11 years old , feels more like 1994.
January 18, 2015
At times, "Saved!" is biting and intelligent satrie taking on difficult issues elegantly. But while its final message is a positive one, its concluding act feels all too predictable and too nicely wrapped up to have the desired impact. Still worth a look.
January 14, 2015
SO funny, it's inoffensive but it makes a point about bible belt Christian Conservatives.
½ November 9, 2014
So funny! I have a soft spot for this movie. It makes me laugh at every time I watch it. Mandy Moore is perfection.
½ October 11, 2014
Great movie! Some of it's characters are frighteningly accurate...
September 21, 2014
Good humored denunciation of religious conservatism.
September 1, 2014
An original comedy with a good cast of young stars. It pokes fun at some Christian stereotypes, but it ultimately means well. (First viewing - 8/15/2008)
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