A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie has very mature material for a PG-13, including extremely strong language and explicit sexual references and situations, including adultery, teen sex, and homosexuality. Characters smoke (smoking is portrayed as an indicator of being cool and rebellious) and drink. Characters shoot guns at a target range and there is some mild violence (no one hurt). Strengths of the movie include the positive portrayal of disabled and gay characters and the ultimate conclusion about the importance of seeking the real meaning of the Bible's teachings.
What's the story?
In SAVED!, Mary (Jena Malone) is about to start her senior year at the Eagle Mountain Christian School when her boyfriend Dean confesses that he thinks he is gay. She decides to "save" him by having sex with him, believing that it will not count as losing her virginity if it is for such a holy purpose. But Dean's parents find gay porn in his room and send him off to a facility to be "cured." Mary finds out that she is pregnant, and begins to question whether the faith she has accepted as it was presented to her is a fair portrayal of the teachings of Jesus. Then there's Hillary Faye (Mandy Moore), who uses her literal "holier-than-thou" status to rule the school, especially her in-crowd group, called the Christian Jewels. On the other side because they are willing to ask questions are the school's only Jewish student, Cassandra (Eva Amurri), Hillary Faye's brother Roland (Macauley Culkin), confined to a wheelchair due to a childhood accident, and Pastor Skip's son Patrick (Patrick Fugit), who is interested in Mary.
Is it any good?
The first thing teens figure out is that it is enticingly easy to make fun of believers in any category; what's nice about this movie is that it does so while still entirely respectful of belief. It begins as a satire of new age-y holier than thou people who spend more time worrying about the appearance of Christianity than the values. But it concludes with a renewed commitment to a faith that engages the mind and heart. You could even call it grace.
The script teeters into predictability at times but the outstanding young cast is wonderfully vibrant, especially Amurri, whose freshness -- in both senses of the word -- works very well for her character. As the school's pastor, Martin Donovan makes it clear that his character is genuinely a man of faith who is not quite sure if he has what it takes to inspire others to share what he feels so strongly in his heart. Hillary Faye uses her faith to establish her power and prestige. She, too, has a secret that fuels her need to control the way she is perceived. The movie is not afraid to skewer its targets, but importantly it is careful to make those targets hypocrisy and arrogance and not faith. Indeed, the movie makes it clear that superficial professions of faith are a distraction from genuine commitment to the values that are the basic principles of Christianity or any religion.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: May 28, 2004
- On DVD or streaming: October 5, 2004
- Cast: Jena Malone, Macaulay Culkin, Mandy Moore
- Director: Brian Dannelly
- Studio: MGM/UA
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 92 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: strong thematic issues involving - sexual content, pregnancy, smoking and language
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