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It seems any time a director sets out to turn the teen movie convention on...
It seems any time a director sets out to turn the teen movie convention on its head with ill-fitting social messages, the result is as quasi-rebellious as an Avril Lavigne record. That, tragically, is a fairly honest assessment of debut director Brian Dannelly's misguided religious farce Saved - and for a film produced by REM's Michael Stipe, that's no compliment.
Lampooning the tight-wadded teen social sect known as "Jesus freaks" (fanatic Catholic kids whose subculture includes abstinence, prayer circles and Christian rock groups) Saved starts promisingly with the hilarious impregnation of naive Mary (Malone), knocked up in an attempt to "save" her very gay boyfriend. Furious at God for putting her in such a predicament, pregnant Mary loses her religion and her puritanical best friend (Mandy Moore) and joins her right-wing school's atheist outcasts.
The premise is clever and deeply enticing, but its good start is extinguished by underdeveloped characters that leave the actors no choice but to deliver increasingly shallow performances. It is a colossal disappointment that Dannelly's script settles for obvious Catholic jokes instead of going for the jugular and becoming the witty social satire that its opening scenes promise.
The comfort the cult of Catholicism offers troubled teens is never explored, leaving the film's flock of Christians as a one-dimensional choir and renders attacks on their belief system limp and overblown. To make matters worse, Saved finally collapses under the weight of a preachy, clichéd anti-climax belonging to the very same teen movie conventions Dannelly had dismally hoped to subvert.