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.
Makes me appreciate sleepy time a lot more.
Sent to investigate the murder of a teenage girl in a small Alaska town, police detective Will Dormer (Al Pacino) accidentally shoots his partner, Hap (Martin Donovan), while trying to apprehend a suspect (Robin Williams). But in spite of his guilt, he’s still determined to solve the case. Hilary Swank co-stars as a local detective who hampers Dormer’s efforts based on her suspicions about the circumstances of Hap’s death.
This little treat here is directed by everyone’s new favorite director, Christopher Nolan. Yes, that Christopher Nolan, and somehow I have loved almost all of his movies he has put out, this is just not like those.
The one thing that Nolan does right with all of his movies no matter the plot, is that he always can make everything so dark. He does a great job here of giving us a simple detective story, but adds on another dimension, with his questions on who’s the good guys, and who’s the bad guys. Nolan brings these questions up very well, and with a compelling score, and otherwise perfect setting for a mystery thriller, he does an effective job of filming this material, as always.
My only problem with this film is that the plot is nothing amazing, and way too straight-forward I felt to actually be compelling enough to hold my interest. I stuck with this film because it’s Nolan, and as always, I was expecting some sort of a little surprise but the plot is already decided half-way through the film, and then we’re just left there to watch as really almost nothing happens. I think Nolan was trying to break grounds here by giving us the whole plot, and have us stay tuned to how it all played out. It wasn’t a bad approach, but I found myself a little annoyed by the sure predictability and slow-pace of this film.
Al Pacino is amazing with any role that he does, and here as Detective Dormer, is no different. Pacino does a great job of showing this cop’s good side, as well as his evil side very well. I don’t think that Detective Dormer, was all that of a likable character, but somehow Pacino uses his magic, and us rooting for him, even though we don’t know if he’s the good or bad guy. Hilary Swank is spot on as the over-educated and under-experienced Detective Burr. She does a great job of putting herself into this role, and becoming a key part of this story, more than people actually expected. However, I thought the best out of the cast was indeed Robin Williams, who seems in need of a career re-boot. Williams plays the sly, devious villain so well here that I think they could have gotten rid of the idea of us seeing him so early in the film, and it still would have worked incredibly well. He brings that signature geniality to the role, and gives us the creepier side to his acting. Don’t do crap like Old Dogs Robin, do stuff like this!
Consensus: Nolan’s dark direction works well with this material, and the performances are good, but the story just isn’t all that surprising, and doesn’t keep the viewers too glued in to the whole story, thus becoming an alright generic thriller.