Saved! (review)

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The Automatons for Jesus who really, really need to see this movie will avoid it because they’ll have been told it’s anti-Christian, and Automatons for Jesus do what they’re told. Saved! isn’t anti anything, except perhaps intolerance. And self-righteousness. And the idea that slapping a “Christian” label on anything makes it holy. American Eagle Christian High School senior Mary (Jena Malone: Cold Mountain) is visited by Jesus, who instructs her to fornicate in His name and offer up her virginity in order to save her “perfect Christian boyfriend,” Dean (Chad Faust), who thinks he might be gay (translation: he knows damn well he is). The result is a not-so-immaculate conception, and suddenly Mary’s life is a mess. Though she manages to keep her condition a secret, her faith is shattered, threatening everything from her social standing — she’s a member of the Christian Angels, kinda the Pink Ladies of American Eagle — to her relationship with her best friend, Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore: Chasing Liberty), a smug, superior Bitch for Jesus who would make Betty Bowers proud. (Moore is a hoot, by the way, just about sending up the similarly self-satisfied pious teen she played in A Walk to Remember.) Writer (with Michael Urban) and director Brian Dannelly has created a wickedly funny takedown of that particular brand of isolationist religiosity that seeks to shut out the wider world and wrap itself in artificial security blankets, while also managing to be a wise and clear-eyed exploration of that moment in adolescence when we stop blindly doing what we’re told and start thinking for ourselves.

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