This movie isn't anti-religion, which is why it lacks the appropriate venom to be funny. It's really a vile form of proselytizing masquerading as a black comedy.
The story takes place at a Baptist high school where the most popular students have gone over-the-edge devoting themselves to Jesus. Instead of ridiculing the other students with their fancy cars or their tight clothing, they ridicule them with Jesus. Think "'Mean Girls' with Jesus" and you'll have a pretty good idea of what this film is all about.
Mary (Jena Malone) is in the "in crowd" with leader Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore), but when she decides to help cure her gay boyfriend by giving him her virginity, then gets pregnant, things start to go awry. Mary becomes friends with the school's only Jewish student, Cassandra (Eva Amurri), and Hilary's wheelchair-bound brother, Roland (Macaulay Culkin), while secretly pining for Pastor Skip's (Martin Donovan) son, Patrick (Patrick Fugit).
What we learn here, as if it were a secret, is that the more resolute and insistent one is about others committing themselves to Jesus, the harder it is not to be a total hypocrite. Ultimately, we're guided toward a Christianity of understanding and a conclusion that Christianity is good provided one employs some understanding.
This would be a lovely ending were it true. I didn't know Christians could make up their own rules, but time and time again, that is what they all think they can do. A shocking number of Christians (and not just them, but religious nutballs of any denomination) preach abstinence while they run around fucking everything that moves. Pastor Skip sleeps with Mary's mother, Lillian (Mary-Louise Parker), earning both a trip to hell. Mary has sex before she's married, so she's doomed. Cassandra is Jewish, so she has no hope either. Her people killed Jesus.
Maybe the answer isn't changing the religion or pretending that you can change the rules of the religion in the middle of the game. Maybe the answer is getting a whole new religion.
To spread the word about this Saved! review on Twitter.To get instant updates of Mr. Cranky reviews, subscribe to our RSS feed.