Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary by Mandy Moore and Jena
Malone. Commentary by director, producer and co-writer. 'Heaven
Help Us' featurette. Revelations from the cast and crew. Alternative/deleted/extended
scenes. Bloopers. Michael Stipe Wants You To Get Saved! Easter
THE hypocrisy surrounding religion and fundamentalist education
gets a sly workover in Saved!, a film which also looks set to
work miracles for the perception of pop-star-turned-actress, Mandy
Produced by REM frontman, Michael Stipe, and Pump Up The Volume
producer, Sandy Stern, Saved! is, for the most part, a wickedly
barbed satire that succeeded in getting religious nuts in America
more than a little hot under the collar.
Set in a Christian high school, first-time director, Brian Dannelly's
film centres around the life of Jena Malone's Mary, who sacrifices
her virginity in an attempt to heterosexualize her gay boyfriend,
only to discover that she's become pregnant.
Her subsequent loss of faith threatens to ruin her friendship
with Moore's uptight, holier-than-thou Hilary Faye, who has taken
it upon herself to educate every 'sinner' in the way of the Lord,
but delights the school's only Jewish student, Cassandra (Eva
Amurri), and the wheelchair-bound Roland (Macaulay Culkin), who
would love nothing more than to see someone stand up to Hilary.
Needless to say, matters reach an
unholy climax on prom night, when almost everyone is forced to
confront their faith and the difficult decisions it places upon
Criticised in certain quarters for being blasphemous, the film
actually makes some very relevant points thanks to the quality
of its script which delights in picking out the various double-standards
that can be rife within fundamentalist education.
Yet it also serves as an enjoyable teen comedy to boot, which
has a lot in common with the similarly mean-spirited Mean
Girls, instead of the gross-out college campuses that are
beginning to get tiresome.
It's just a shame that Dannelly cannot resist the temptation
to become a little too preachy late on, when just about every
character gets to see the light and finds redemption, in some
form, from their past failings.
Performance-wise, the film boasts a number of nicely-observed
turns, not least from Moore, who succeeds in casting off her good-girl
image to become a completely self-obsessed bitch.
Malone, too, makes an endearing central character, while Culkin
is good value as her sarcastic friend, and the likes of Patrick
Fugit, as a love-interest, Martin Donovan, as Pastor Skip, and
Mary-Louise Parker, as Mary's mother, all provide spiritied support
But it is Amurri's vampish rebel, Cassandra, who really steals
the show, delivering a deliciously mischievous performance which
encapsulates all that is fun about watching the movie.
It may ultimately run out of steam, but Saved! is a smarter-than-average
teen comedy that you won't mind confessing to have enjoyed seeing.
One final point, however - why isn't Stipe's REM
classic, Losing My Religion, anywhere on the soundtrack?