Sarah and I watched Saved! tonight. Good God, that movie was weak and cliched. I gave it a D+ (only due to some entertaining one-liners and situations). Sarah gave it a C- (I guess she thought the jokes were funnier than I did...)
This movie came across as a whole bunch of overly-secular folks' idea of how rotten religious Christians are - it might have been nice if they had managed to have one character whose religion was a redeeming or enlightening facet of his/her life. The closest thing Patrick, but his religion was tacked on like an afterthought - very much the way someone who isn't religious would imagine a "good" religious person to be.
The movie touched a couple of great points, which merited serious (or at least more honest) discussion - the conversation between the mother and daughter where the mother describes unwed motherhood as something which might ruin her life, and the response is "did I ruin your life?" touches a raw nerve, and that is a real question. There are lots of parents who resent the impositions and enforced lifestyle changes which their children have forced on them. (For a fascinating exchange on the topic of regretting children, check out the comments on this thread). Another point which unfortunately gets lost in the polemic is the idea of Mercy House being not a treatment center for troubled children, but a comfort for parents of troubled children. Now, that's something profound, and there's something there which could have been explored. But alas, the "Christian" principal is not allowed to condemn the Mercy House kids for stealing the van and crashing the prom. Why not? Because the question of condemning theft gets conflated with his disapproval of homosexuality. Hello! "Thou shalt not steal"? Heck, forget about that - where were the cops on the heels of that van? I'm pretty certain that if 10 kids stole a van from a troubled kids home, the home would try to do something about it...
Saved! seems to posit the idea that faith is some black&white binary thing, where you have on one side a self-centered hypocritical faith, and the other an easy-breezy anything-goes hedonism - all or nothing. Plus, the characters are merely peeled-off examples of template "rebel" "hypocritical religious girl" "clueless mother" etc. The only one who was particularly worth watching was Macaulay Caulkin's Roland. Now I could watch more of him, because he actually seemed to have some depth. The change he underwent seemed completly natural, and his interaction with Cassandra and his sister was wholly believable. As an aside, Cassandra is interesting, but has to be the least-believable Jewish character in the history of filmmaking - being Susan Sarandon's daughter isn't helping, as she neither looks nor acts Jewish. Plus: she had gotten kicked out of all the other schools, so her parents were thinking of home schooling her? now, I'm a believer in home schooling, and would encourage it for anyone up to it, but boy, if there's something which is just not done in the Jewish world, that's it. Her Judaism comes across like Patrick's Christianity - a convenient prop for someone else to identify which character is meant, but not actually an identity. Some research leads me to a speculation about this: the author of the movie, Brian Dannelly, had a brush with Judaism in a summer camp. So perhaps this was a young secular boy's impression of how Judaism made people turn out. meh. Cassandra would have been more believable had she been an athiest - perhaps with embarrased yuppie parents or something (to explain why she'd end up in an egregious Christian school), but as a Jewish character, she's flat. Now, if the whole movie had been centered on Roland and Cassandra, it would have been a lot more interesting than centering it on Mary, it would have been more compelling.
So all in all, disappointing. Eeh, maybe better next time.