Extreme Christianity meets its match in Saved!, the hilarious and clever satirical comedy that stars Jena Malone, Mandy Moore, Eva Amurri and Macaulay Culkin.
There is no doubt that this movie will not appeal to those who are seriously religious, but the intentions of Saved! are far less potent than to make fun of religion in general - it is here to make fun of intolerance and of those who are so obsessed with what they believe is right that they are willing to strike down perfectly acceptable people as moral outcasts. But, without any further contemplation of the goals of this movie, let's delve into what rally matters - just how funny is this movie?
Okay, so Saved! won't have you laughing your socks off at every second, but it will make you chuckle non-stop. There are so many jokes with such perfect timing - executed by the great cast - that it is hard not to like the film, unless you take it personally (in which case you have to question whether you really are the symbol of morality that you think you are). The film raises questions about homosexuality, pre-marital sex and the fact that Jews do not believe in the divinity of Jesus, all through a clever and witty script.
Malone, who has done an absolutely superb job of grabbing up roles in all of the offbeat teen films that do not earn her the fame she perhaps deserves, is terrific. She plays Mary, one of a couple of very popular and religious girls at a Christian high school. When she finds out that her boyfriend is gay, she realizes that Jesus wants her to help him - by sleeping with him. Of course, that doesn't help his homosexuality, but, since they used no protection, it does help her get pregnant. As she begins to realize that not everything she has learned about the morality of people really works, she begins to feel more at home with Cassandra (Amurri), the only Jewish girl at the school, and Roland (Culkin), a crippled kid, than with her apparently good friend Hilary Faye (Moore). Furthermore, when Hilary Faye begins to see that Mary is succumbing to the dark side, she enlists the school to bring her back - that includes exorcisms and throwing the bible at her... literally.
Moore has crossed the threshold from singer-turned-actress to just actress; I no longer see her as a teeny-bopper singer that is trying to infiltrate Hollywood, but as a real player, someone who can actually act and knows how to choose screenplays. She is great here, playing the ultimate bitchy "good girl" - to what length would you go to be seen in a positive light in the eyes of God?
Culkin is also terrific in his first major role since returning to acting, and Amurri is also fun to watch.
Saved! is just an all around classic, something that is guaranteed to raise eyebrows and make anyone who watches it laugh.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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