Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Review of Saved

Another night, another movie review for movie week, this time for recent theatrical release, Saved. An amateurish script that played too heavily at times, the comedy nonetheless had some good laughs, and, as teen comedies go, this was the first one I can remember that actually spoke to my own experience and concerns as a teen. Though it may have been done awkwardly, I give it points for that. (And maybe its relevance helps explain the HUGE audience I saw it with, including a total gamut from Christian kids to gay adults.) Eva Amurri (Susan Sarandan's daughter) is highly memorable (and even rather sexy for her age), Martin Donovan, Mary Louise Parker & Patrick Fugit are underutilized, Mandy Moore is strong, Macauley Caulkin's fine, and Jena Malone was, for once, tolerable to me. (For some unfair reason of taste I usually can't stand her.) She plays a girl named (of course!) Mary, a student in a Christian school whose boyfriend confides that he thinks he's gay, and she sleeps with him to try to cure him, getting pregnant in the process. This is a great beginning, getting at the messiness, pain and confusion of modern American adolescence. Miracle of Morgan's Creek this isn't, but the shenanigans that ensue are often pretty entertaining. Unfortunately, writer/director Dannelly has the kids waging war in a nasty, escalating way that leaves them all looking unheroic and unsympathetic. The script interestingly develops certain characters as being ironic heroes (the non-Christian character played by Amurri--a Jewish J.D.--behaves with more genuine Christian love and concern at times than anyone else), but this tugs us in two different directions as an audience, demonstrating Dannelly's loss of control. There's way too much on his plate, which is why so many strong actors are wasted. Michael Stipe produced and made the media rounds for this film which got a post-Passion boost because it's a Christian-themed film. Some argued that it was all one-sided, but Mary is a complex character who represents a Christian trying to sort out the complexities of her own faith. And surely more than Gibson accomplished. Not at all bad for a first effort. Hopefully the director will keep trying. (2 stars out of 4)



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