SAVED! (2/10)

Copyright © 2004 by Tony Medley

Attending a fundamentalist Christian college, the boy friend of Mary (Jena Malone) tells her he thinks he’s gay. In order to try to get him back on the straight and narrow, so to speak, and after what she thinks is an apparition of Jesus, she sleeps with him and gets pregnant. Her best friend, Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore), a committed Christian and campus leader, turns against her.

Fortunately for her, the principal’s son, Patrick (Patrick Fugit), has a crush on her, and a campus outcast, Cassandra Edelstein (Eva Amurri), tries to influence her. Cassandra disdains everything the school stands for and is apparently trying to get expelled as she goes against the grain every chance she gets.

The POV of this film is that Christians are narrow-minded bigots, and hypocrites, to boot. There’s no doubt that every religion has religious fanatics, and that Christianity has its share. But this film paints with a wide swath, and makes a sweeping generalization.

The characters are not true to what they’re supposed to be. Mary is devastated that her boy friend thinks he’s gay, so what’s her solution? She thinks that Jesus appears to her in an apparition, and interprets that as His instruction to get pregnant, even though she’s unmarried. To believe that a devout Christian would think that a solution to a problem like this is to sleep with her boy friend and conceive an out of wedlock child is simply preposterous.

As to Mary’s illegitimate baby, the movie is morally bereft in that it does not show the problem of a marriageless birth. Saved! stands for the proposition that there is no moral right or wrong, other than “understanding” other people and “accepting” them and their values, no matter how wrong you think they might be. Anybody who has a strong opinion on right and wrong, regardless of the issue, must be a narrow-minded bigot, according to Saved! Apparently nobody can hold any strong belief in good faith.

The film ends with everybody happy. Mary has her baby, her gay boyfriend is happy to be a father, but he’s with his “life partner,” and it’s not Mary and it’s not with his baby. Patrick is fine with Mary as a mother of a baby not his own. Mary’s still unmarried. Even the Christians the film paints as bigoted have come around to see that this is a big world and there’s room in it for everyone. Ah, all’s well with the world. Equally as bad as the generalization that Writer (with Michael Urban)-Director Brian Dannelly makes about Christians being bigots, is the happy Hollywood Ending which confirms the anti-Christian tone of the film, and supports the philosophy of moral ambiguity.

Despite Dannelly's apparent intent to make a statement about tolerance, Saved! is an intolerant, morally simplistic film that ignores the concept that there really is something called “right and wrong,” and that people who stand up for what they think is right are not necessarily narrow-minded, and are not necessarily bigots. In fact, sometimes those who hold themselves apart from the pack and do what they think is moral regardless of what their friends think and do have a lot more courage than those who just go along.

May 13, 2004

The End