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O'Hara Factor
Thursday, May 13, 2004


MGM is coming out with a new motion picture entitled "Saved!" on May 28, starring Jena Malone, Mandy Moore, Macaulay Culkin, and Patrick Fugit. The movie is a comedy taking place at a Christian high school in which a boyfriend tells his girl that "he thinks he might be gay" (Synopsis).

Synopsis per the official website:

"Good girl" Mary (Jena Malone) and her domineering best friend, Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore), are starting their senior year at the top of the social food chain at American Eagle Christian High School -- that is until Mary's boyfriend tells her he thinks he might be gay. When Jesus appears to her in a vision, she heeds his message to "do everything she can to help him" [sic] and to her horror, she ends up pregnant. Suddenly, Mary begins to question everything she's believed in, and Hilary Faye and her devoted "disciples" (including Heather Matarazzo) turn against her. As an outcast, Mary finds herself alone until she's befriended by the school's other pariahs: Hilary Faye's cynical, wheelchair-bound brother Roland (Macaulay Culkin); the principal's skater heartthrob son, Patrick (Patrick Fugit); and the high school's lone Jew, an exuberant rebel named Cassandra (Eva Amurri). In this sweetly subversive comedy, a group of outsiders band together to navigate the treacherous halls of high school and make it to graduation, ultimately learning more about themselves, finding faith in unexpected places, and realizing what it truly means to be Saved!"

To me, this synopsis alone sounds suspicious. I thought Christianity was about faith in Christ, not just "being saved." It's really a vague and bland term. The only mention of Christ in the whole synopsis is that the school just happens to be Christian. I never thought the possibility of eternal punishment in hell was a comedic matter, either.

I'm not alone in my doubts. Assist News Service made the following news release on Tuesday the 11th:

HOLLYWOOD, CA (ANS) – Ted Baehr, world-renowned media scholar and founder of the Christian Film & Television Commission™ ministry, says that the new Hollywood movie SAVED!, to be released May 28 by MGM, is a sad, bigoted, anti-Christian movie that mocks the Christian faith.

He urged other religious leaders, including Jewish and Moslem leaders, to warn their constituents about the bigoted movie, which stars Mandy Moore and Macaulay Culkin in a story about self-righteous Christian youths in an uptight Christian school.

“SAVED! is a hateful, politically correct movie,” Dr. Baehr declared. “It is being heavily marketed to the community it mocks to lead Christian youth astray and make them resent their own faith.”

“The one character who tries to preach the Gospel in the movie,” he noted, “is actually the villain. The heroine Mary, played by Jena Malone, has a vision that Jesus tells her to fornicate with the school hunk in order to save him from homosexuality. At the end, Mary learns that her only true friends are Cassandra, a irreverent Jewish girl who claims to have been a stripper, and the villain’s brother, who denies being a Christian and lusts after the stripper.”

Dr. Baehr adds, “Cassandra is the real heroine who turns Mary away from the uptight Christian students who believe in faith, values, and the power of prayer. Imagine if this movie were set in an Orthodox Jewish school with faithful Jewish children cast as the villains and a Christian girl shows how legalistic the Jewish girls are. Or, what if it were set in an Islamic school with faithful Muslims cast as the villains and a Christian or Jewish Girl exposes how legalistic the Muslims are? The outcry in the press would be tremendous! Not to mention the righteous outcry from Jews or Muslims!

“Looking at it from the point of view of other faiths,” Dr. Baehr continued, “highlights how bigoted the movie SAVED! is and reveals how MGM is marketing it to Christian children to try to divorce them from their faith!

We've had more than our fair share of grossly-inaccurate hollywood portrayals of God and faith before, well illustrated by films such as "Bruce Almighty." We have seen direct mockery of protestant Christianity before. During a scene in "Catch Me If You Can", Leonardo DiCaprio's character confesses to his fiancee that he's not really what he claimed to be and is leaving. The fiancee isn't concerned with his leaving. She cries "You're not Lutheran?" The videogame GTA2 also makes direct mockery of Christianity, though the mockery seems more targeted at rich, passionate televangelists. For instance, one must have $50,000 and go to the church in order to get "saved." (Get it? Haha. Saved. :P) If you have the money, you hear "Another soul saved!" with cheering in the background. If not, you hear "Damnation! No donation? No salvation!" In addition, church signs feature slogans such as "Get stuck in Rev. Erse."

Christian Spotlight on the Movies offers the following opening in its review of "Saved!".

Brian Dannelly's upcoming film, Saved! is a comedy-drama centered around the fictional Eagle Mountain Christian High School, where Jesus' name is spouted as if He's a popular soft drink — complete with advertising buttons ready to be pinned onto anyone's backpack and make them eternally popular.

The mostly white students live within wealthy suburbs, venturing into the city only long enough to picket abortion clinics.

Audience members are asked to believe this is a community where one might win the "Christian Home Decorating Award of the Year" to wild acclaim. During high school assemblies, the one teen who rebelliously mocks her Christian classmates is targeted by a spotlight, as the school principal asks if anyone wants to get saved. "Getting saved" in Saved! is a flip decision that a three-year-old who knows no better may make. True repentance for sin, freedom from its bonds, and laying down one's life for your friends are none to be seen here.

In fact, based on this movie, one could easily get the idea that calling yourself an evangelical Christian puts you in the categories of judgmental, rude, violent, and stupid. It comes as no surprise that the credits give special thanks to George H. Smith for his book, Atheism: The Case Against God.

You have my insistence to read the entire review, after which you yourself may feel like yelling "Damnation!"

My conclusion is that this a bunch of anti-Christian crap. While there are Christian hypocrites, no doubt, to cast such a stereotype upon all Christian is basically a blow below the belt disguised as a wholesome, spiritually-uplifting motion picture.


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