Jesus takes another beating this year, one different from
“The Passion of Christ,” but a beating all the same.
Jesus is the butt of all the black humor in Brian Dannelly’s
“Saved!”

Film Reviews
Welcome to the dollhouse. (Courtesy of United Artists)

All seems well and holy at American Eagle High School where the
“biggest CEO” is none other than the famous Jewish
carpenter. But when Mary (Jena Malone, “Donnie Darko”)
tries to save her possibly gay boyfriend, reality hits her with a
wake-up call: She’s pregnant.

“Saved!” has all the elements of a standard teen
flick: boys, prom, more boys, popularity and the outcasts versus
the beautiful people. But “Saved!” also has something
movies like “She’s All That” didn’t have
— lots of dark humor. It’s the sarcasm and twisted
nature that save the film.

While it’s often hilarious, “Saved!” teeters
on the verge of overusing the Jesus jokes. Luckily, the
creative-but- realistic quirks of characters like the
“hip” Pastor Skip (Martin Donovan,
“Insomnia”) or the Jewish rebel Cassandra (Eva Amurri,
“The Banger Sisters”) help to produce laughs that are
not brought on by sacrilegious humor.

Amongst the ensemble cast, some actors pull their weight more
than others. Both Macaulay Culkin and Mary- Louise Parker’s
subtley complement the predictably over-the-top Cassandra and
dramatic Mary. It’s a big surprise for audiences to see Mandy
Moore like she’s never been before. Cruising to school in her
wheelchair-equipped Astrovan, Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore) reigns over
the school as the “angelic” popular crusader trying to
save the heathens (i.e., everyone dressed in black). After numerous
schmaltzy movies, Moore finally gets the acting right. Her
character is believable, as audiences hate her but still
can’t help pitying her.

While “Saved!” might poke fun at everything
religious under the sun, the movie is eventually poignant and
loaded with life lessons. And although stereotypes of teenage life
are exaggerated in “Saved!” it’s fundamentally
realistic right down to the last pimple.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

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