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Title: Saved!

Year Of Release: 2004

Review Date: May 22, 2004

Rating: PG-13 (For strong thematic issues involving teens - sexual content, pregnancy, smoking and language)

Running Time: 92 minutes

Box Office Gross: $8,786,715

Recommendation: ridiculous, irreverent film - "save" your money!

Site Rating: 0 out of 10 stars 

SAVED...OR LOST?

Irreverent MGM teen film starring Mandy Moore, Macaulay Culkin and Jena Malone.

Yesterday, I saw an MTV News short featuring the new irreverent MGM teen flick "Saved," where VJ John Norris sarcastically introduced the subject of the film, which "pokes fun at" Christian teenagers who are "you know the type (wink wink)." No, John, what type would that be?

Speaking of John, why is it MTV has constantly switched out the younger VJs, but John has been there since the Louisiana Purchase (no, not MTV's acquisition of Britney Spears - hey, they own her, hook, line and lip syncer) just holding on like an old pair of underwear. Does he have shares in the company or dirt on one of the execs.

And what's with these corny teen movies. Is there a shortage of teen actors in Hollywood or were the ones who actually read the script sober and passed on the film.

Now, I know there is such a thing as typecasting, but former child star Macaulay Culkin and former teen pop singer Mandy Moore are too old to be playing in these youth films all the time. The last time each of them hit puberty, Britney Spears was still a virgin and the internet was a great new item the government was thinking about making available to the public.

I really expected to see some intelligent, mature acting from those two, but they continually retreat to the safety of playing characters a generation younger than they are, which is, well, safe, predictable and stale.

Continue down that path and you'll be covering your grays in your bathroom, while reading scripts about going to the prom. 60 years old, taking Geritol between takes and spewing out lines like, "Dude, are you ready to go to the prom?" Never mind your collecting social security…

The way they were arrogantly posturing and pretending to be so intellectual and above it all during the interview, one would think they'd have figured out that career pigeonhole.

Synopsis

Courtesy of Mercury News:

"When her boyfriend tells her he's gay, Mary has a vision from God that tells her to "save" her boyfriend from his sinfulness by offering up her virginity to him. So she does, but she gets pregnant and is soon ostracized by her friends and nearly the whole school. She finds herself out in the cold, with the other outcasts: the school's only Jewish student Cassandra (Eva Amurri) and Hillary's sarcastic brother Roland (Macauley Culkin)."

Oh, yes, a very realistic, common Christian occurrence. The film is totally realistic as the producers and cast claim.

I mean, just yesterday, I had this prophetic vision that Madonna made a movie called Swept Away and for the first time in the history of the film industry critics unanimously agreed that it was the worst film ever! Oh wait, that actually happened. Never mind.

Off topic for a bit...how does she do that to films. It must be a gift (from hell). Satan overextended himself. He figured he made her a famous pop star even though she can’t sing and has no musical ability. Impressed with himself and the results of his puppet’s campaign of debauchery, self centeredness and perversion, Satan tried to make her a famous film star as well in the land of filmmaking where talent actually matters and lack thereof will show much more quickly than in music. Note to Satan: you’re not God, you can’t do miracles, so let it go, already.

back to the film...

This is NOT a Christian movie

I've read articles where the promoters of “Saved” tried to pass it off as a Christian film in an effort to capitalize on the success of The Passion Of The Christ. However, after the self-defeating display of its lead actors in that MTV interview, coupled with the irreverent scenes shown to promote the film, it is very easy to see it is NOT a Christian film. It is not a Christian comedy, it is not a Christian anything.

I will "save" my time and money by NOT going to the film. You spit in someone's face, then ask for their money. I think not.

The excerpts I've seen are unscriptural, inaccurate and another quality I really can't stand in a film...corny. And it's not even the good kind of corny where it's funny...it's just corny.
Not to mention, I was once a Christian teen and was never like the characters in the film, neither were my friends. I will not enrich anyone that portrays us as such. As a Christian teen, I spent my time praying for people, handing out food and money to the homeless, giving to charity and going to church. Oh yea, that’s something to make fun of. Just stand up comic material.

I was raised in the South, where faith is a big part of our lives, regardless of what color you are. It’s one of the things I love most about the South. So, pardon me if I don’t take to a film like this, especially one aimed at Christian youth.

Certainly the filmmakers are entitled to write whatever they choose, just like I'm entitled to write whatever I choose (and pretty much do) and so I have the right not to go to the theatre and not to spend money on that film. Money well "saved" indeed.

The Press Interviews

I can only figure that they assume Christians don't watch MTV, but we do occasionally, especially when we want to find out what not so smart actors like the cast of "Saved" are up to.

As a general rule, if you want to con Christians into thinking a film is Christian, don’t send out its cast to do arrogant, self-defeating, sarcastic interviews disparaging Christian teens. To hear them talk about the film in the interview as though they are so witty and enlightened, especially given their own conduct, was laughable.

Note to producers: in order to credibly make fun of millions of Christian teenagers, choose cast with unimpeachable conduct, not ensemble who’s lives could qualify for their own mockumentary due to their own questionable conduct.

It’s not just a matter of them playing these slanderous, far-fetched characters, they haughtily took it a step further by insulting Christian teens in the interview to promote the film.

There's a serious credibility gap/hypocrisy underlying the film as well, due largely in part to its cast.

The Cast

All too old to be playing teenagers in a film. Not only are they in their twenties, that combined with the Hollywood hard partying and hard living they do make them look older than their actual ages. Yes, very realistic casting, indeed.

Ironically, one of the producers, Michael Stipe said he didn't want a teen film where the actors were 24 year olds. However, according to his filmography, one of the stars, Macaulay Culkin turns 24 in 3 months. I guess those few extra months make a difference. It’s 23 and 3/4ths not quite 24. There is a difference.

Macaulay Culkin, 23 - A child star by age seven, his life spiraled out of control very early. According to a television program I watched, he was an alcoholic by age 15, divorced his parents by age 15 and was living and partying in his own New York apartment by age 15. 15 was a big year for Mac. It was in that same New York apartment that a fire broke out which killed four of his neighbors.

I’ve never taken to the issue of kids divorcing their parents. I think it’s wrong. Then again, there are some parents who would be difficult to divorce. My godbrother’s mom should have been his mom. That divorce would not have happened. One of my godbrother’s friends suggested he do something that was ill-advised and reeked of getting grounded. My godbrother told him no and jokingly said, “You know my mom is crazy!” Well, she isn’t clinically crazy, but she’s one of those parents that doesn’t tolerate much and isn’t afraid to publicly show that.

Had she been his mom and he threatened to divorce her she’d have had him sleeping with one eye open and with Child Services (HRS) on speed dial. She would have beaten his bratty little butt for trying to divorce her. That’s when he’d have really been scared to be “Home Alone.”

Seriously, it must have broken his parents hearts when he divorced them, not to mention humiliating them like that. There’s a passage in the Bible which states, “Honor your mother and father, which is the first commandment with a promise, that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth" (Ephesians 6:2). Doing otherwise is to your own detriment. They may do questionable, unethical things, but divorcing them is not the answer.

He is the definition of a trouble child star, yet is now poking fun at teenagers, Christian teenagers. Yes, one for Freud, indeed.

To pretend to be so above it all and speak so disdainfully of Christian teenagers in that interview when his teen years were a mess, even by Hollywood standards, is hypocritical. To pretend to be so enlightened, when the light he is most familiar with is the one at the end of a liquor bottle disqualifies him from throwing stones at anyone.

I know people make bad choices like taking drugs and excessively drinking, but they usually have the self-awareness and humility not to throw stones at people with fewer vices than themselves. Therefore, for Culkin, whose life had become a punch line in the press, due to his own conduct regarding divorcing his parents and substance abuse, to speak disdainfully of Christian teens is very self-deluding. Or do you feel if you make fun of them it draws attention from you.

For the record, I never thought badly of him for falling into drug and alcohol abuse, but I thought less of him for punking himself on national TV making fun of Christian teenagers, when his own teen years were riddled with dysfunction and substance abuse. 

And look who they're poking fun at, Christian teenagers trying to clean up their lives and help the people around them. The cast could use a bit of that. He needs to take a good look in the mirror, because given his track record as a teen, the producers would have made more money on a made for TV movie on the train wreck that was his teen years (it would not make the big screen, though).

It would probably be on E, no, not slang for the drug ecstasy, I mean the television channel, which is where I saw the True Hollywood Story on his troubled teen years. A film mocking any teenager is really rich coming from him. He is in no position to cast dispersions on anyone. Teapot calling the kettle black, indeed.

Jena Malone, 20 – Another child star who divorced her parent. I’m noticing a trend here. Must be a Hollywood thing. Parents just aren’t fashionable anymore.  

Malone scornfully talked about the research they did for the film by going to two Christian youth rallies. She sarcastically said in her valley girl voice, in a failed attempt at humor, "I got saved three times“ (insert requisite valley girl head tilt and hand wave here). It’s not their fault you’re a slow learner, Jena.

Like, pity it didn't do much for your, like, acting skills, cause it's like so totally infomercial. Like, leave those out of your CV, cause they’re like, so totally bogus. You're, like in the dangerous Madonna acting zone. "Method Acting For Dummies" anyone?
At age 12, Malone starred in the R rated film “Bastard Out Of Carolina,” which the MPAA description for was:  

"Rated R for strong depiction of sexual and violent abuse, including a rape scene involving a young girl."

The rape scene involving a young girl was Malone’s character based on what was written in her filmography. At 12 she was doing twisted roles like that and has the gall to mock Christian teens. Her teen years don’t sound very normal or very sane.

Let’s see, healthy, normal pre-teen and teen years…go to church or pretend to get raped for the cameras and divorce parent. Hmm which one sounds more normal?

Show of hands, how many of you parents would let your 12 year old star in a film where it calls for the “strong depiction of sexual and violent abuse, including a rape scene involving a young girl.” 

Not to mention, how many 12 year olds would want such a role.  

Mandy Moore, 20 – Former teen pop singer, at age 15 sang the lyrics:

I'm so addicted
To the lovin that you're feeding to me
Can't do without it
This feeling's got me weak in the knees
Body's in withdrawal
Everytime you take it away

You know, that's the first time I actually looked up the lyrics to that song, which was her debut single she released at age 15. The song must have been popular among pedophiles.

That scene in the film where Moore's character violently throws her Bible at her pregnant teenage classmate played by Malone was something else. Mandy, when you threw that Bible at her like you were pitching at Yankee Stadium, much like your dancing on stage, you were too stiff. I thought in your genre you were supposed to get jiggy like J-Lo.

Seriously, in all the years I've been a Christian and with the hundreds of Christians I've been around, I don't know any Christians who've thrown a Bible at anyone, let alone a pregnant teen.

To summarize it, with a film with an ensemble like that how can you respect their integrity. If they had any, they wouldn't have done the film or most of their other questionable career choices.

Regardless of all the disparaging comments that have been made in promoting the film by its supposedly upstanding cast and all the potshots taken at Christian teens in the film, which paints them as evil vision seeing, Bible throwing, physically abusive, racist, bigoted, hateful, dimwitted people, the producer wants you to bare in mind that, "The humor in the story is not meant to mock Christianity. We are not making fun of Christian people in this movie." Who are you kidding.

They say the film is about tolerance, yet they sarcastically mocked and insulted Christian teens in the film and its accompanying press interviews, showing utter contempt and derision for Christianity. Yes, very tolerant, indeed.

A Mockumentary

I thought to myself, self, what if I made an irreverent film about the cast. Certainly they wouldn’t like it. What if I made a film about Culkin’s teen years? I couldn't imagine he'd be pleased. He'd sue to have the film blocked. Ironically, there's enough real material there for a script that would make him an utter byword without embellishing a thing. If someone made a film poking fun at the cast's lives there would be so many humiliating and traumatizing moments for them due to the behavior in their own personal lives that it would send them screaming and crying to their shrinks.

They spend a little time with these kids at two Christian youth rallies and now claim to know them like a book. It's the same celebrity arrogance that thinks every fan is a stalker, every acquaintance is an admirer, when they may very well feel sorry for you due to the tormented, jaded, confused lives you lead. Some celebrities read between lines to deduce and infer things that aren't there, when a person may just feel compassion for them due to the great need they notice in their life betrayed by their troubled behavior.

Financially rich, but spiritually poor = miserably unhappy. You'd have to be to become an alcoholic and divorce your parents at age 15 then marry and divorce before 19. But you're speaking disparagingly of those teenagers...

If I were to do research for a film about Culkin's life, as they claim they did for making a film about Christian teens, I could presumptuously assume it would be spent in bars and for Moore in Britney Spears' shadow and the tennis hotels of the world.  

I would try to really capture their lives accurately, as they claim they did Christian teens. I’d make a film showing Culkin at age 15 divorcing his parents, holding wild parties in his Manhattan apartment, getting drunk, then hurling into the toilet.  

Moore’s film would have more dimension, as I would capture the strength, conviction, integrity and edginess of her putting out sugary pop songs, shopping, putting out a teen film with carbon copy script, putting out sugary pop songs, shopping, putting out a teen film with carbon copy script, putting out sugary pop songs, shopping, putting out a teen film with carbon copy script.

Malone’s film…hers is so questionable I can’t even joke about that. A 12 year old in an R rated film pretending to be raped for the cameras. What kind of role is that for a 12 year old and why write something like that into a script, anyway. What does playing a role like that do to a kid?

I have to wonder sometimes what these actors are thinking when they do certain things. It maybe alright to some, and if you carry yourself well enough, kiss what you assume to be the right butts, don’t offend what you assume to be the wrong ones, and are polite enough to who you assume are the right people, you can pull it off, but at the end of the day what they do is meaningless and of no contribution to society.

The film isn't about nothing as those stereotypical teen films usually are. They decided to do a film slandering a real group of people, who actually have integrity. Christian teens do a lot of charity work and enroll in programs that help many in the community. Yet these are the people you pillars of the filmmaking world and society are making fun of. Running out of ideas are you.

They are religiously persecuting and mocking Christian teens who do the following:

  • Feed the homeless

  • Collect and drop off food for lower income families

  • Volunteer at hospitals

  • Clean graffiti off walls

  • Clean up neighborhoods (picking up trash)

  • Painting buildings in area revitalization projects

  • Volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, which builds homes for lower income families

  • Missionary trips to feed and help people in underprivileged countries

I can’t begin to tell the cast of “Saved” how self-centered, self-absorbed, selfish, egotistical, spoiled, over-privileged, over-indulgent, clueless, lazy and vain they look in comparison to them. But you all are making fun of Christian teens, many of them doing more work for others than you’ll ever do in your jaded, pampered, over-privileged lifetimes.

What's your lot's contribution to making the world a better place? Certainly not these self-aggrandizing, corny teen films.

Another thing about the film that is offensive is the Mercury News wrote that the Jewish character was one of three outcasts from Christian youth group circles. I take offense at that characterization.

Christians have tried to establish relationships with the Jewish community for a very long time. So many churches constantly go to Israel bringing goodwill and valuable tourist dollars. John Hagee organized a program called Operation Exodus, which raised over one million dollars to bring Jewish people from other parts of the world like Russia, back to Israel.

Pat Robertson has done work in aid of Israel, so much so that he was publicly criticized by a few Muslims, when an Israeli cabinet member gave him an award in honor of his work for Israel. However, according to what has been written regarding the film, Christians are Nazis who’ve cast Jewish people out of their circles. We are not the enemy of the Jewish community. Their name is Al Quaeda.

The Producer

The interview mentioned REM singer and sourpuss Michael Stipe, most known for his song “Losing My Religion”, released the film. He should have named that song losing my smile, as he's got to be the unhappiest singer ever. With my almost encyclopedic knowledge of singers –royal wave “thank you, thank you, very much!”-

I'm hard pressed to find a singer with a more miserable mug than Stipe. Smile already, Michael. Even satanic rocker Marilyn Manson cracks a smile every now and again, with crack being the operative word (I'm just kidding). Stipe has this someone just killed his trusted childhood pet look on his face all the time, yet ironically sang a song called, "Shiny Happy People." Talk about irony.

However, considering he recorded a song like "Losing My Religion," it's not surprising he tried to have this film made. He's got issues with God ... but is persecuting teenagers the way to make you feel like a man? It looks very cowardly. Why don't you religiously persecute someone in your own age group and leave the kids alone.

Why don't you pick on some tough like Suge Knight? Certainly, you aren't scared of a thorough butt kicking. Or better yet, Osama Bin Laden. Why don't you make a film that picks on him? One would think an allegedly socially conscious man such as yourself would pick on someone like him rather than defenseless 13, 14, 15 and 16 year olds that you know won't fight back or try to blow you to smithereens. Quite cowardly of you, indeed. Much like that scowl you always wear, it doesn't look good on you (there are hospice patients with more cheerful expressions than you).

They'll read this, be insulted, hurt and say how dare I write that. Doesn't feel too good now does it? But it’s okay for you to do that to Christian teens? Not even adults, but to teens. It's cool for you to make cowardly films that mock and religiously persecute them? Films might I add that will only further typecast and pigeonhole the actors' careers. Guess you showed those little zealots!

This stuff has grown so trite. What's next? The made for TV movies, "Home Alone 9: Kevin Saves The Retirement Home," "The Really, Really Long Walk Home Again Part 6: Menopause" and "How To Deal: Hot Flashes And Me."

Grow up already and start acting your age (Get the joke? They are actors, but constantly playing roles too young for them).

Christian Consumers

-Aisha says in a kind motherly voice- :

To the Christian teenagers reading this, are you really gonna be sad at a movie made by that lot? While I have no explanation for you as to why a 44-year-old man put out a film taking potshots at you, nor why he assembled such an incredulous cast to make the mockumentary, don’t let that cowardly bully bother you. Pay him and his adultchildren cast no mind. Now, run along children and stay away from those heathens! (I’m kidding).

Seriously, since they view you as teenage religious zealots, why should they get your so called teenage religious zealot dollars (And based on Census reports, there are millions of you). Why go to their movies, their concerts, buy their music, their DVDs, merchandising or endorsed products when they insult you and your intelligence with trash like that.

Since they think so little of you, they should think that little of your money as well. And for them, that’s what it is about, the bottom-line. What they think is edgy enough to, like, totally make them more famous and, like, give them credibility.

Don’t let them tell you otherwise, because if they truly cared about artistic value they wouldn’t continually do such vapid, forgettable work. They’d spend more time developing their craft, rather than developing their extra curricular activities.

Besides, the funds from it will only end up being spent on a $1,000 pocket book or up someone’s nasal passages or pickling someone’s liver via alcohol, cause you know, they’re like, so totally keeping it real. You want to keep it real, keep it sober. You’d be better off giving your money to charity.

And make no mistake, it is about the money as one of the producers said “Something is going on in the world right now that we haven’t quite seen. Christianity has become a multi-billion dollar industry.”

Christianity was always a multi-billion dollar industry from books to CDs to movies. We’re quite normal. We buy music, movies, books, clothes, vehicles, ect... (yes, really!). There are many Christians in this world and we do buy Christian products.  

However, some in Hollywood just didn’t notice, as the average Christian company doesn’t employ the tactics certain questionable Hollywood companies do in getting their projects out there, nor do they compromise with certain types of advertising and publicity stunts that go contrary to the message of Christianity or rig awards to receive honors they don’t deserve or move in certain Hollywood circles.

Can’t really call yourself a Christian and go to Hollywood parties with playboy models, people getting drunk and snorting drugs off the table. And Christian or not, that is not a healthy lifestyle. I know the history of the entertainment industry and the people who lived like that ended up in rehab or dead. Rehab being the better choice. God didn’t make the human body to endure that kind of physical and emotional abuse. However, God can forgive.

I'd like to recommend Cloud Ten Pictures, who have suitable Christian films that are available in stores like Wal-Mart and through online merchants using the following links:

http://www.cloudtenpictures.com

http://www.jhm.org/catalog/featured.asp

 http://www.jvim.com/prophmov.html

* This review was adapted from a Sound Off Column article.


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