name = Saved!

caption = "Saved!" poster
writer = Brian Dannelly,
Michael Urban
starring = Jena Malone,
Mandy Moore,
Macaulay Culkin,
Patrick Fugit,
Eva Amurri,
Martin Donovan,
Mary-Louise Parker
director = Brian Dannelly
producer = Michael Ohoven, Sandy Stern, Michael Stipe, William Vince
distributor = United Artists
released = January 21, 2004
runtime = 92 min.
language = English
budget = ~ US$5,000,000
imdb_id = 0332375

"Saved!" is a 2004 teen comedy film involving elements of religious satire. It was written by Brian Dannelly and Michael Urban, and directed by Dannelly. It stars Jena Malone, Mandy Moore, Macaulay Culkin, Patrick Fugit, Eva Amurri, Martin Donovan, and Mary-Louise Parker. "Saved!" was filmed at Clayton Heights Secondary School in Surrey, British Columbia but set in suburban Baltimore County, Maryland. Michael Stipe of the band R.E.M. is one of the film's producers.


At the beginning of the film, Mary (Jena Malone) has "been Born Again [her] entire life." She is beginning her senior year at American Eagle Christian High School near Baltimore, where she is a member of the "Christian Jewels" - a "girl band for Jesus" - with her Fundamentalist Christian friends Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore) and Veronica (Elizabeth Thai). She also has a "perfect Christian boyfriend", named Dean (Chad Faust).

Two weeks before summer vacation ended, Mary was playing a game with Dean where they would tell each other secrets underwater. On his turn, Dean says that he thinks he's gay. Mary, shocked by an obviously unexpected revelation, hits her head on the pool's ladder when she resurfaces. A builder working nearby immediately jumps in to save her after Dean slips on the tiles. While being rescued, Mary has a vision in which Jesus says that Dean needs her, and that she must do all she can to help him.

Mary tries to 'help' Dean by getting him to do more heterosexual acts, such as kissing her and squeezing her breasts, but they don't seem to make much headway. Hoping for a sign, Mary goes to the shooting range with Hilary Faye, who has "a spiritual solution for everything." Hilary Faye talks about how Christian girls need to protect themselves; but if all else fails, Jesus could still restore their "spiritual and emotional virginity." Mary then believes that if she were to lose her virginity trying to 'save' Dean, Jesus would make her pure again.

Despite Mary's efforts, on the first day of school, when she and the other "Jewels" stop by his house to pick him up, Dean's parents reveal that they found gay pornography under Dean's bed and that he is on his way to Mercy House, a Christian treatment center. Mary tells her friends and Hilary Faye's wheelchair-bound, cynical brother Roland (Macaulay Culkin) about Dean's so-called perversion. After receiving a horrified response, she makes them promise to keep it secret.

As they get to school, Cassandra, (Eva Amurri), the only Jewish person at the school and a rebel against the school's belief and disciplinary systems, establishes her dislike of Hilary Faye by throwing a cigarette at her. In homeroom, Mary also meets Patrick (Patrick Fugit), a skateboarder and the son of Pastor Skip (Martin Donovan), who has recently been with his mother in South America doing missionary work. Mary is immediately attracted to Patrick, thinking that he is the only boy at school who didn't look like a NASA employee.

But soon after, Mary learns that she is pregnant via a home pregnancy test. Doubting the results, she heads to Planned Parenthood, where she is spotted by Roland and Cassandra, who are sitting sharing cigarettes nearby. Their shared cynicism and black humour is causing them to bond romantically despite Roland being Hilary Faye's brother. Mary finds out that she will have the baby after graduation and her birthday, so the good news would be that she will not have to go to Mercy House or give up her baby if nobody finds out before the birth.

Nevertheless, Mary loses faith in Christianity, which causes her to be rapidly ostracized by Hilary Faye and her other friends, who as such fortunately do not know about her pregnancy. The Jewels quickly replace her with a previously unknown girl, Tia (Heather Matarazzo), whose ambition of being part of the most popular clique in the school is fulfilled. Pastor Skip asks the Jewels to help Mary regain her faith, which to them means trying to kidnap and exorcise her. Following a botched exorcism, Mary runs into Patrick on her way home. He offers her a ride home and asks her out, to which she responds that she is not dating right now.

While at school for Christmas, no one has noticed that she is pregnant except for Cassandra and Roland, having seen her leave Planned Parenthood. For that reason Cassandra teases her by making suggestive gestures with a paper cone and her fingers. Mary, worn out by the way her life is heading, goes into the bathroom and breaks into sobs. Cassandra comes in and confronts Mary about whether she is really pregnant. A broken Mary confirms her pregnancy. At this point, Cassandra is revealed to have a softer side to her nature. Realizing what state Mary is in, she begins to bond with the confused and lonely girl. They ditch the rest of school and go maternity shopping with Hilary Faye's credit card along with Roland. The group later run into Patrick and Hilary Faye. Pretending to want to get saved, Cassandra distracts Hilary Faye while Mary and Patrick slip away. They almost kiss but end up not doing so. The next day, Cassandra sticks a piece of rotten bacon in Hilary Faye's locker which causes a stench so bad around the area that Hilary Faye covers her face. Mary is overjoyed when she finds out that she is going to have a little girl.

On Valentine's Day Mary debates giving Patrick the Valentine she made, and gives up when Hilary Faye gives him one, though afterwards she finds one from Patrick in her locker. In that scene it is also revealed that Pastor Skip is not fond of Patrick dating Mary but is nevertheless dating Mary's mom, Lillian (Mary-Louise Parker), unknown to either of the kids, showing that the Pastor is somewhat of a hypocrite.

On Easter Sunday, a school presentation is given with Patrick doing a reenactment of Christ dying on the cross. Afterwards, Hilary Faye tries inviting Cassandra and Mary to join them for lunch. Cassandra and Mary turn the request down, and a potshot from Hilary results in a fight. Roland then lets his friends in on a secret about his sister, and shows them a picture of an ugly Hilary Faye when she was a little girl. The next day at school Cassandra and Hilary Faye clash again. Hilary Faye reports them to Pastor Skip, who puts them on the prom committee--chaired by Hilary Faye--as a punishment. Later that day in computer class, the ugly picture of Hilary Faye as a child winds up as the wallpaper of the desktops of the system. Hilary Faye is humiliated and tries to tell Pastor Skip that Cassandra and Mary are responsible, but he says she has no evidence. That night Hilary Faye prays to God to show her how to get back at the outcasts.

The next day, someone has sprayed Satanic graffiti on the school overnight. Mary and Cassandra are automatically suspected given their nonconformist status. Spray paint cans are found in their lockers. Cassandra is expelled, but it is unclear what happens to Mary. In the midst of the search in Mary's locker Mary's sonogram is seen by a teacher, who decides not to tell on Mary and hides it in her folder. The teacher says nothing is there to Pastor Skip, but accidentally drops the sonogram on the floor, revealing Mary's pregnancy. Hilary Faye and the other Christian Jewels are watching from an upstairs balcony and see the sonogram. Murmuring that she is she pregnant, then saying that they can't believe they were friends with Mary, they look on as Mary collapses with shock at her secret being found out. Roland sees them and confronts his sister: "You have everything Hilary Faye. What are you afraid of?" Pastor Skip insists that Mary be sent to Mercy House, or else he will break off the relationship with Lillian. After giving it some serious thought, Lillian decides to send Mary away on the grounds that the girl is too young, the baby needs a father and a mother, and it would ruin Mary's life, but the real reason is she doesn't want to break up with Pastor Skip. This causes a fight with Mary, who suspects the real reason.

Cassandra and Roland set up a plan where they get Mary a dress for prom night and get Patrick there to take her as his date, while they themselves will go together as dates. Mary is touched by their action, and the two couples head back to the school bursting with confidence. At the prom, Hilary Faye attempts to denounce them for having returned uninvited and publicly accuses Mary and Cassandra to have spray-painted the school. But Roland has got something with him- her credit card statement, which shows the purchase of the spray paint. This evidence is not sufficient to Pastor Skip, saying that anyone could have purchased the spraypaint with the card, however. Knowing Hilary Faye's weak point, Cassandra asks her to swear publicly before God that she did not do it, which should not be hard if she is innocent. At first the fundamentalist Hilary Faye is incapable of doing it, but caves in to swear so as to save face. But Tia, disillusioned about her Jewel membership and fed up with Hilary Faye's authoritarianism and snobbiness, pulls out a signed receipt for the paint used to vandalize the school which she found in Hilary Faye's van, thus exposing her guilt to the entire school. In a fit of rage over being exposed as a hypocrite, Hilary Faye flees the room. As Mary, Patrick and the Pastor try to pursue her, Dean and the others from Mercy House show up there after swiping the program's van. Dean finds out Mary is pregnant, news which he manages to receive well. Pastor Skip demands that Dean and company return themselves to Mercy House, telling Dean that he isn't welcome at American Eagle because he is gay. Dean responds that Jesus still loves him even though he is gay. Mary, worn out by the events of the evening, confronts the Pastor telling him nobody is perfect- not even him, so why should God love only those who are perfect? An uncomfortable silence is interrupted as Hilary Faye crashes her van into the school's effigy of Jesus, cursing him for having led her in the wrong direction. Realizing what she has done, Hilary Faye breaks down and has to be led away by Roland and Cassandra. She asks Roland if God still loves her, to which he answers probably not, but then magnanimously says "Yeah, sure." Mary abruptly goes into labor and has to be led off to hospital.

The movie concludes with Mary and Dean's baby girl being born and Dean run's out and announces "she's perfect." Lillian, Patrick, Dean, Roland, Cassandra and Dean's boyfriend Mitch enter the room to offer her their moral support, while the troubled Skip waits outside holding some flowers (presumably for Mary) debating whether to come inside. Mary's voice-over tells the audience how she changed her mind and went back to believing in God, a God who loves and helps those that love and help others in need. The assembled friends in the room have a picture of themselves taken, a true community that can always count on one another and not fear ostracization.


"Saved!" was reasonably well-received by critics. At the critics aggregator site RottenTomatoes, the film currently holds a 60% rating of 80 positive reviews against 53 negative ones, making the film just reach the required percentage for "Fresh". As of February 10th, 2008, "Saved!" holds an average of 7.0/10.0 on the Internet Movie Database. Positive reviews praised the film's blending of teen comedy with serious issues not normally associated with the genre. Renowned "Chicago Sun-Times" film critic Roger Ebert gave the film three and a half out of four stars, calling it "a pointed satire in the form of a teen comedy". He and his partner Richard Roeper awarded the film "Two Thumbs Up!" on their show "Ebert & Roeper and the Movies". Other critics however criticized the film for alleged anti-Christian views. One thing that was more agreed upon was that the film's third act weakened after its decent first two acts. "Slant Magazine" was overwhelmingly negative on this issue, giving the film only half a star out of five. Nevertheless, "Saved!" appears to have maintained a good reputation. A writer using the Alan Smithee pseudonym listed "Saved!" as one of the 10 Most Underrated Films Ever in the book "100 Movies To Avoid: The Most Overrated Films Of All Time", a work which pans recognized classics and masterpieces such as "", "The Matrix" or "Titanic". According to "Allan Smithee", the film was "an intelligent commentary" and "sweet teen comedy", that "did reasonably well at the box office but not as much as it should have".

"Saved!" did do decently at the box office, grossing $10,156,933 worldwide for a budget of $5,000,000.


A DVD version of the film is available with a director's audio commentary, as well as commentary by Jena Malone and Mandy Moore; theatrical trailer, access to deleted scenes, and some bloopers.


Playwrights Horizons is developing a musical version of the film, with music and lyrics by Michael Friedman, as well book and lyrics by two-time Olivier Award nominee John Dempsey and Rinne Groff [cite news | last=Jones | first=Kenneth | title=Based on Film, Saved Musical to Premiere in NYC in 2008; Gary Griffin Directs | publisher=Playbill | date=2008-03-03 | url= | accessdate=2008-05-10] . The musical will begin previews on May 10, 2008 at the Mainstage at Playwrights Horizons, with a planned opening night on June 3, 2008 [cite news | last=Jones | first=Kenneth | title=First Preview of Saved Is Lost; Musical Will Start May 10 | publisher=Playbill | date=2008-05-09 | url= | accessdate=2008-05-10] . The announced cast includes Celia Keenan-Bolger, John Dossett, Julia Murney, Mary Faber, Josh Breckenridge, Juliana Ashley Hansen, Curtis Holbrook, Van Hughes, Jason Michael Snow, Aaron Tveit, Emily Walton, Morgan Weed, and Daniel Zaitchik.

See also

* Christian humanism


External links

* [ Official website]
* [ "Saved!"] at Rotten Tomatoes
* [ "Saved!"] at Boxofficemojo

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