I don’t know why, but there are times where taking a subject that is supposed to be incredibly serious and making a satire of it is incredibly funny. As blasphemous as it may sound, religion is often the best subject matter for this and today’s movie is one of those types of movie. When I first heard about this movie, I thought it was an interesting idea and decided to rent it, having missed it’s theatrical run. I enjoyed it and wound up buying it but ended up losing it for several years when I loaned it to my brother and it got stuck in the built in DVD player in my family’s home theater system. When they moved a few years ago, he ended up breaking it open, as it had stopped working, and I finally got my movie back (after 5 years). So let’s get into today’s movie, Saved!.
The plot: Mary Cummings, a “born-again Christian her entire life”, is part of a group called the Christian Jewels and about to start her senior year at American Eagle Christian High School. Two weeks before school starts, Mary is swimming with her boyfriend Dean Withers when he tells her he is gay, and the shock causes her to hit her head on the ladder. When Dean sees her predicament, he goes to save her but slips on the wet concrete so a handyman jumps in the pool. In her half drowned state, Mary sees the handyman as Jesus, who tells her to do all that she can to help Dean. Mary tries what she can to restore Dean’s heterosexuality but nothing seems to work so she goes to get some advise from her friend Hilary Faye. While they are shooting targets at the gun range, Hilary, not knowing what is going on with Dean, tells Mary that Jesus can restore her spiritual virginity so Mary decides to go to Dean’s house and have sex with him. On the first day of school, Hilary, along with her brother Roland, picks up Mary and Veronica, giving each of them a Christian Jewel pin that she had made. The group arrive at Dean’s house but when he doesn’t come outside, Mary goes to find out what’s keeping him and his parents tell her that they found gay porn under Dean’s mattress and have sent him to Mercy House, a Christian Treatment center. Mary gets back in Hilary’s van and on the way to school, she tells them about Dean and makes them promise not to say anything to anyone else. When they arrive at school, they have an encounter with Cassandra Edelstein, a Jewish girl who had transferred to their school, and during their first class, they are introduced to Patrick Wheeler, the son of the school’s principal Pastor Skip Wheeler. During an assembly, Cassandra pretends to speak in tongues, until Hilary calls her out on what she is saying, and begins doing other acts at school in order to get under Hilary’s but Roland starts getting attracted to her. Meanwhile, Mary finds herself attracted to Patrick but Hilary notices and calls her out on it. Mary soon discovers that she is pregnant and starts feeling like God has forsaken her. Meanwhile, Roland and Cassandra skip school and Cassandra tells him that she was kicked out of her old school and chose to go to American Eagle over being home schooled while Roland admits that he is not really a Christian. When they see Mary leaving a Planned Parenthood Clinic across the street, Cassandra figures out that Mary is pregnant but Roland says he doesn’t see it happening. Later that day, Mary goes to a prayer circle for Dean’s “sickness”that Hilary was hosting and Mary tells her that it is a waste of time and that Jesus isn’t listening so Hilary takes the Christian Jewel’s pin from her and says she is no longer part of the group. As Mary starts withdrawing from her old friends, Pastor Skip notices and asks Hilary to guide her back towards Jesus so Hilary, Veronica, and Tia (an unpopular girl that Hilary has made a Jewel to replace Mary) grab her as she walks home and try to perform an exorcism on her but she gets away from them. A little while later, Patrick shows up and offers her a ride home and after dropping her off, asks her out and Mary is flattered but turns him down, saying that she is not dating right now. With her due date falling just after graduation, Mary tries to make it through school without anyone noticing. Cassandra starts teasing her about it but soon feels sympathy and decides to be supportive for her and, along with Roland, takes her shopping for some maternity clothes and Roland pays for it with Hilary’s credit card. Meanwhile Pastor Skip tries to talk Patrick out of his interest for Mary but Patrick says he shouldn’t talk about relationship advise, as Pastor Skip and his wife are separated and he refuses to give her the divorce she wants. At the same time, Pastor Skip is secretly seeing Mary’s mother Lillian but Lillian decides that she doesn’t want to keep it secret anymore as they are doing nothing wrong. As the school year draws to a close, Hilary is constantly trying to get Cassandra expelled but Pastor Skip assigns Cassandra and Mary to work on the prom committee. As they are working, Patrick asks Mary to the prom and she accepts, which further upsets Hilary. When Cassandra gets back at Hilary by saving earlier pictures of Hilary as the screensaver on the school’s computers, Hilary buys some spray paint and vandalizes the school with graffiti, then blames it on Mary and Cassandra. When Pastor Skip and Mary’s homeroom teacher search their lockers, they find cans of spray paint in them. Mary’s teacher also finds the sonogram of Mary’s baby but chooses not to say anything but it ends up falling onto the floor in front of Pastor Skip, causing Mary to faint. Pastor Skip calls Lillian and after talking with Mary, he tells Lillian that their dating caused them to miss this and unless she sends Mary to Mercy House, he can’t see her anymore. Cassandra and Mary are expelled and Cassandra is so upset that she leaves school without Roland, causing him to spend the night on the school grounds. Meanwhile, Lillian is packing a suitcase for Mary to go to Mercy House, saying that she doesn’t want the baby to ruin Mary’s life and Mary asks if she ruined her life before storming out of the room. The next day, Cassandra goes looking for Roland and when she finds him, apologizes for leaving him and they make up. They then come up with a plan to go to the senior prom, getting Mary on board when Patrick shows up in a limo. The four students show up at the prom and when Hilary sees them, she tries to have them thrown out but Pastor Skip says that they should turn the other cheek. Hilary gets upset over that and Roland says that she framed Cassandra and Mary, holding up Hilary’s credit card receipt that shows she bought some spray paint the morning before the vandalism. Hilary says it doesn’t prove anything and questions the fact that the maternity clothes were also purchased. When Mary and Cassandra tell Hilary to swear before God that she didn’t spray paint the school, she does so but Tia, having found a signed receipt by Hilary, calls her out on the lie. A disgraced Hilary runs out of the school just as a van from Mercy House shows up and Dean, along with several other kids from Mercy House exit the van, intent on heading to the prom. When Dean sees Mary, he is shocked to learn that she got pregnant the first time they had sex but is happy for her. Pastor Skip tries to get Dean and the others to leave but Dean tells him that they have nowhere else to go, as they have been kicked out of their homes and now kicked out of Mercy House. Suddenly, they hear tires screeching and everyone rushes outside to find Hilary speeding through the parking lot before crashing it into the Jesus effigy in front of the school. Cassandra and Roland check to see if she is ok and Hilary ends up apologizing for what she did. Meanwhile, all of the excitement causes Mary to go into labor and when the ambulance shows up, Dean, Patrick, and Mitch (Dean’s boyfriend) are trying to figure out who should ride with her when Lillian shows up and pushes them aside. Climbing into the ambulance, Lillian tells Mary that she didn’t ruin her life, locking eyes with Skip as the doors close. Mary gives birth to a baby girl and as her friends all head into the room to see her, Lilian sees Skip pacing back in forth with some flowers in the parking lot, apparently trying to decide how or if he should apologize. As Lillian hands Dean the baby to hold, Patrick hands a nurse his camera so she can take a group shot of everyone there.
Saved! met with positive reviews from the critics, holding a 61% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that it is, “A satirical teen comedy that, unfortunately, pulls its punches.” During production of the movie, several people quit and a church, a Christian band, and a homeowner whose house was to be used pulled out of the film citing the film’s unflattering content. The film was a modest hit at the box office, earning $10.1 million off of a $5 million budget.
As unflattering as some people may find it, this is a pretty entertaining movie. The acting was really good, with the five main teenagers (Jena Malone (Mary), Mandy Moore (Hilary), Macaulay Culkin (Roland), Eva Amurri (Cassandra), and Patrick Fugit (Patrick)) doing great jobs in their roles. The plot was really good, basically using satire to point out some of the over zealous aspects some people have practicing Christianity; from their belief that prayer alone can fix everything to their treatment of gays and sending them to “treatment centers”. I really liked the writing in this movie, which did a good job of showing the teenage perspective on this and mixed a good amount of humor into it which did not take away from the seriousness of the issues in the movie. I know some people will probably have a problem with this movie but it is worth watching.
Rating: 4 out of 5