Now I thought Amanda Bynes was a pretty good looking Jesus freak, but damn was I ever so wrong!
Good girl Mary (Jena Malone) can’t believe it when she gets pregnant by her newly-gay boyfriend. She also can’t believe the actions of her popular, relentlessly devout best friend, Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore), who’s looking after her wheelchair-bound brother Roland (Macaulay Culkin), attempting to convert adamantly Jewish Cassandra (Eva Amurri), and trying to snag cute newcomer Patrick (Patrick Fugit), a hip skateboarding missionary.
You would think that a film about a born-again Christian getting knocked up would be comedy writing itself. But writer/director Brian Dannelly is more about getting in touch with the big issues with religion and the results are fairly successful. Hell actually, a lot better considering Mandy Moore is in one of the leading roles.
What I liked most about Dannelly’s script here is that he goes for some big punches by poking a lot of jokes at fundamentalism, faith, and the people that believe so fanatically in it but he does it in a way that doesn’t offend anyone really. It’s much like ‘Dogma’ in the way that its just showing religion/faith for what it is and even though it may poke a couple of jokes at how crazy and energized up these certain people can be that are behind it, he never really bashes them. The humor is very funny in a satirical way where we see how everybody in this high school is all about the big G.O.D., but at the same time, they aren’t necessarily being the best people that they think God wants them to be. Then again though, that’s the point of the flick.
We can’t always live up to God’s expectations as to whether or not we are doing the right thing in his eyes just about 24/7. It’s definitely a lot harder to ask that out of teenagers more than adults considering we have so much evil and bad things around us that seems so easy to just do what we think is fun or the right thing for us to do. Still though, we can still be happy and be loved by God even if we may mess up every once and awhile because honestly, who’s perfect in today’s world. Donald Trump? Barack Obama? Oprah Winfrey? Don’t worry I’m not a huge believer in faith but I can definitely say that certain people are a lot pushier with it than they have any right to be in the first place.
The film isn’t just a satire about faith and the people it, it’s also a sweet, little coming-of-age story that I thought had some nice touches here and there. Dannelly gives this film a little relaxed feel to it where everybody lives close to one another in this suburban town of Maryland, and they all have different things going on in their lives except for one thing, The Holy Spirit. I liked this because it was a good coming-of-age teen comedy that didn’t try to do anything new with itself but at the same time didn’t try to be another one of those lame-o high school flicks that get old by the 20-minute mark.
My problem that I had with this flick was that as funny and as biting as it sometimes was, the last act really disappoints. I like the fact that Dannelly didn’t try to bash any religion or the people behind it but at the same time, he makes enough jokes at them throughout the whole flick and then tries to say that he’s sorry by giving everybody a nice reconciliation. This seemed a little too neat for my liking considering how biting this film and its satire could be and it just seemed like Dannelly took the easy way out rather than just trying to go for anything edgy or different for that matter. The film’s last act is also filled with just about barely any humor whatsoever, but then again, I don’t really think they were trying to go with that either. It’s just a shame though that a film can be mocking a subject at one point and then by the end, just teeter out and try to ask for its forgiveness for making jokes in the first place.
As for this nice, young cast, they all do pretty good jobs as well. Jena Malone is a perfect fit for Mary because her face shows that she is both naive about what she should do with her future but also determined to do the right thing, which makes it so much easier to like her character right from the start; Mandy Moore is a blast to watch as Hilary Faye because she’s just one of those pretentious, goodie-goodie, rich, pretty, and self-centered chicks that you just want to see get knocked out and told who’s boss but she’s also very funny by how serious she is and it’s just a surprise as well that Moore gives a good performance considering she does do a lot of crap; Macaulay Culkin and Eva Amurri probably have the best scenes together in this flick and it’s a real surprise why none of their careers never really lift off after this; and Patrick Fugit is nice to watch as Patrick, a kid that knows all of the right things to say but just can’t get the girl that he wants. However, if it came down to a choice between Mandy Moore and Jena Malone, I’m sorry but I would have to say Moore. Actually, it’s not that hard of a decision in the first place.
Consensus: Saved! features a lot of funny satire that has a sweet coming-of-age story behind it that works, but by the end it starts to teeter back and ends a little too cleanly. Young cast that makes it definitely worth watching more though.
Your head will probably hurt by the end of this one.
A troubled teenager (Jake Gyllenhaal) is plagued by visions of a large bunny rabbit that manipulates him to commit a series of crimes, after narrowly escaping a bizarre accident.
Donnie Darko is one of those cult films that is “the crazy film” that all the hip, cool teenagers all talk about. Some say it’s amazing, some say it makes no sense, and as for me I’m sort of in between which is all good.
Writer/Director Richard Kelly is amazing here in his debut flick with a lot of things to do, but makes it all so perfectly laid out for us to easily follow. There are a lot of perfect scenes where it’s just a cheesy 80′s song played over all this movement around one area, and it really is perfect how he captures how humans inter-act. My favorite scenes are the ones he uses with the school, because he captures all of the cliches of your typical high-school, but makes them look so real. He also has a lot of mind-bending scenes where he does a play-back, speed-up, and some cool special effects that all look great and add a lot to the overall feeling of this film.
My favorite element of this film probably has to be the amazing script this has. It touches on so many subjects with such wit, bravery, poignancy that it all works here. There is a lot of confusing things that happens, but to back it all up you have these pitch-perfect conversations that these characters have that almost feel like real-life. There is plenty of talk about how the 80′s American dream was viewed as, and how the suburban family really was, and the way Kelly satirizes it, just works so well. Despite all the normal, every day talk that this film brings up, there are also questions about life that make you think. Is the life we live, exactly how we imagine it? And if so, can we change our out-comes or are we all just destined for our fate with no way of changing it at all? These as well as many other questions are brought up and we never quite figure out what exactly this film is talking about sometimes, but it’s almost too hard not to be confused.
However, I think that Kelly’s best part with this film was the human parts of this film. I loved the scenes where Donnie is sitting at dinner with his family, or is in school, or just talking to his friends. All of those scenes were perfect of how they captured human emotions, and reactions, but I almost wish there was more of that. The film tends to lose it’s head in all the craziness that ensues so a lot of the poignant and honest human parts are lost.
Jake Gyllenhaal is the perfect choice for social out-cast Donnie Darko. Donnie is one of those kids in school that didn’t really talk to anybody because he didn’t care, was a little strange, and didn’t want to be a conformist, and Gyllenhaal plays that part so well. He’s such a smart kid that almost everything he says is like poetry, and the teenage angst he has is just so perfectly played. Donnie Darko may be one of the best teenage character’s of all-time, and one of Gyllenhaal’s best performances of all-time.
The rest of the cast is pretty good too each getting their own screen-time. Jena Malone is great here as the main love interest, Gretchen. Her character is so sweet, and cute that the scenes that her and Donnie have are my favorite. Mary McDonnell, Holmes Osborne, and Maggie Gyllenhaal, which in case you couldn’t tell is Jake’s real-life sister, they all play members of the Darko family and do a great job as well. Others in the cast that do good jobs as well are Drew Barrymore, Noah Wyle, a really young Seth Rogen, Beth Grant, and the always reliable Patrick Swayze doing everything right.
Also, may I add that the ending is epic. The film perfectly builds up to the last 15 minutes, and you won’t forget about it when it’s over.
Consensus: Writer/Director Richard’s Kelly debut feature may lose it’s head with the mind-bending elements, but it has a perfect script, great performances, and a story that goes places you won’t be expecting, and won’t be disappointed in seeing anyway.
Sappy, but still works.
Faced with a sobering diagnosis of terminal cancer, George (Kevin Kline) decides to construct a beautiful new house on his land overlooking the Pacific Ocean, while at the same time trying to connect with his estranged son (Hayden Christensen).
As soon as I saw the trailer, I was expecting the conventional, predictable, Lifetime movie wanna be, tearjerker. In ways, I got that, but that’s not really a bad thing.
The screenplay is alright, however, I couldn’t help myself but to be annoyed at times. The blending of comedy, and drama, worked a little well, but there would be times when I didn’t know if the movie was trying to be funny, or just being sarcastic in a way. But this film is you obvious tearjerker. It does blatant sad things just to get a rise out of you, which I didn’t like, and thought was actually pretty cheap, considering, I think if they just stuck with their original script, and got rid of all the sappy crap, then this film probably wouldn’t have annoyed me as much.
However, some of the dramatic stuff does work, and you do get connected to the characters. But it’s not because you want to, it’s just because that’s how the film has written them out to be. There are some scenes that dramatically work, and others, that well, don’t necessarily hit the mark.
There was one thing that made me like this movie, more than I expected, and it was the great performances from the cast. Kevin Kline gives a great performance, maybe one of the best of his career, cause he handles this guy, George, with such ease and such grace, that he’s both charming, and serious, which makes him a joy to watch, and likable. Hayden Christensen may get a lot of ish, for not being a very good actor, but in this one, he hits every single note so well. Hayden plays to perfection the disaffected brat desperately seeking attention from parents who are so tied up with appearances that they can’t see the simple cry for love. The scenes between these two, where they are at each others neck’s basically work so well, and are played out in a very detailed way, and don’t seem fake at all. Kristin Scott Thomas, plays Kline’s ex-wife, and she has some very good spots as well. And then you add a horny Jena Malone to the equation, and then you get some funny things happening.
Consensus: Life as a House has some nice touches, that are highlighted by great performances, but feels too conventional, and manipulative, in showing you that you should care for these characters, and be upset by all the little bad things that happen.