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Wednesday, January 12, 2005

DVD Review: Saved 

Hollywood often has a difficult time dealing with matters of faith and Christianity. It seems that its secularist establishment -- even when raising serious questions -- cannot broach the subject without resorting to taking cheapshots at it.

Saved falls into that trap. Its central message, that society -- meaning both Christians and non-Christians -- should practice more tolerance and understanding with each other, is one with which I mostly agree. But like the friend that can never give a compliment without first qualifying it in a backhanded manner, Saved chooses not to present its theme through straightforward means. No, it lampoons Christians in a way that paints their faith and practices as bufoonery.

The story centers around a girl (Jenna Malone) that attends a Christian school. A devout follow from an early age, she resorts to drastic actions when her boyfriend admits that he is gay. Shunning her desire to remain chaste until marriage, she gives up her virginity in an attempt to cure his homosexuality, leading to a series of events that have her questioning her faith.

Non-Christians will no doubt cackle with delight at the movie's subtle slams of Christian tenets and over-exuberant scenes of worship, while their born-again brethren cringe at seeing their beliefs defiled. After all it's standard fare in our "progressive" society. Fundamentalists, as we all know, are responsible for all of society's ills, right?

Sure the movie has a few honest laughs, and I did enjoy many of the characters (Eva Amurri stands out as the Jewish bad girl), but at its schizophrenic heart, what is Saved all about? Is it a dark comedy with a smidgen of light-hearted satire thrown in? Or is it a vehicle for the anti-Christianity camp to score another victory in America's ongoing culture wars.

In a way it's both, and how you see it will no doubt reflect which side of the war you're on. For me the more positive aspects are enough to save (pun intended) it from total blasphemy, but in the end Saved is nothing more than a cheapshot, no matter what it's trying to say. 5/10


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