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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Saved! is a 2004 satirical comedy in which Jena Malone plays a Christian girl attending a fundamentalist high school whose life is turned upside down when she becomes pregnant. While the movie satirizes the hypocrisy of Christians too rigidly dogmatic to truly apply Christian ideals of love and charity when faced with challenging circumstances, families who are on the more conservative side of the Christian religious spectrum are likely to find some of the dark humor to be bordering on sacrilegious. However, the movie's deeper message -- exploring the idea of "What would Jesus do?" when faced with contemporary issues -- is a worthy topic of discussion among families, faith-based or not. In terms of content, two of the lead characters have sex, resulting in teen pregnancy. The lead female character has sex with her boyfriend after he tells her that he's gay; she believes that Jesus has told her to have sex with him as a way to "de-gay" him. In one scene, a row of bouncing parked cars filled with teen couples is shown from the outside while "Push It" by Salt-N-Pepa plays. After looking up "gay" on an internet search engine, the lead character is taken to a provocatively named gay pornographic website with images of leather-clad men. A closeted gay teen boy is shown on the verge of masturbating in his bedroom with a copy of a gay pornographic magazine. The "bad girl" character of the movie smokes cigarettes; cigarettes are a big part of her rebellious image. This same character is also shown drunk at the mall, and also makes a sexual reference to her "p---y" while pretending to speak in tongues in the school auditorium. There's some profanity, including "f--k" (used once), and some homosexual slurs are used. "Retarded" is used.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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's gay. She decides to "save" him by having sex with him, believing that it won't count as losing her virginity if it's 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's 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're 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's enticingly easy to make fun of believers in any category; what's nice about this movie is that it does so while still being entirely respectful of belief. It begins as a satire of new-agey 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 isn't 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's perceived. The movie isn't afraid to skewer its targets, but, importantly, it's 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 ...
Families can talk about how they think about their own religion and the religions practiced by others. Mary asks, "Why would God make us all different if he wanted us to be the same?"
How does the movie use satire to make more serious points? What are some other examples of movies, TV shows, and books that employ satire as a way to provoke thought and reflection on society and human nature?
Does the dark humor help or hinder the movie's overall themes and messages?
- 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
For kids who love to laugh
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