Peter M Howard ::

wintermute.com.au

Saved!

09October2005 [movies]
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Saw Saved!, quite a terrible movie really (at its heart just a love story, but with too much baggage), and have a few barely-coherent notes:

The final conclusion: that there _has_ to be a God … or … something, is just ridiculous (in the movie the director is God — there is no way the constructed suburbia could exist in our reality, and taken to its logical conclusion, the events that unfold are the product of a God-less, Chaotic world)

Macaulay Culkin’s character is the _only_ decent (read, Christian) or normal human being in the whole movie, though even he is thrown when the girlfriend exclaims “I thought it was all about the sex”

Pastor Skip comes a close second, as a normal human with human weakness to temptation — he never _really_ gives in, but the message is too ambiguous — seems to come out on the side of “love” rather than self-discipline/fidelity etc. (Admittedly, early in the movie he plays the televangelist or evangelical “Jesus freak” — his own words — but he quickly develops as a character — so much so that it is difficult to reconcile his earlier stereotypical antics with his actions toward the end of the movie)

The main character, Mary, though a horrible mish-mash of stereotypes (the ‘virgin’ not least of which), is relatively well-rounded, but her unfortunate conclusions about God, the too-obvious comparison to the Virgin Mary, and the other too-convenient script elements are detrimental to her character.

Mandy Moore’s character is appalling, and deliberately so, but suffers from the same problems afflicting the movie as a whole — a vague, though deliberately repulsive Christianity that is only redeemed on a secular or humanist level at best.

Patrick is her deliberate opposite: the “perfect” boy — what a Christian “should be”: Pastor Skip’s son, he is nonetheless compassionate and understanding, and he has been a missionary. But in this role, he is terribly one-dimensional, almost as off-putting as Mandy Moore’s character, and is never given the chance to develop. His final line in the movie sums up his character entirely: “I’m the boyfriend”.

Further, the movie tries to deal with issues confronting Christians (and others) of any denomination: particularly homosexuality and teen pregnancy, but on both counts portrays either extreme prejudice or fuzzy, secular “tolerance”. Again, Culkin’s character and Pastor Skip deal with both problems the best (though still far from perfect).

Continuing/Related is the theme presented around “Mercy House” — the place ‘problem’ kids are sent — whether for “de-gay-ification” or for unmarried girls whilst pregnant. At one stage, Patrick observes that Mercy House exists not for those that are sent, but for those who do the sending: a worthwhile observation on the old practice of sending away “embarrassments” — particularly unwed mothers. But in the final confrontation, Pastor Skip says “the bible is very clear about this” (the main issue being homosexuality at this stage), and Mary responds “so everything that doesn’t fit into some stupid idea of what you think God wants, you just - try to hide, or fix, or get rid of”. Unfortunately, those are two separate issues: the bible _is_ clear on homosexual acts, so it’s fair enough for Pastor Skip to not want a gay couple there, _but_, it’s not clear on homosexuality (the old nature or nuture argument), so yes, one can’t just “hide or fix or get rid of” gay people… (Note, however, that Pastor Skip’s “the bible is black and white” is yet another over the top statement, but by this stage one expects that from this movie)

Also in this scene, Dean raises that annoying old (and terribly American) issue: the _Right_ to a Prom (what’s the big deal?) (which is as ridiculous as asserting a “right” to marriage, so perhaps it fits)

(And Mercy House errors: 1. What place trying to “de-gay-ify” people would have two insecure gay guys sharing a room?!! 2. In the final scene one of the guys from Mercy House is wearing a turban of some sort (not sure, I think it’s Sikh) — there is no other reference to him, but I think it’s _terribly_ prejudiced to suggest that Christians would send non-Christians to be converted in such conditions [the other things I can believe, ‘cause yes, they do happen]!)

Final notes: I’d read a _lot_ about this movie before seeing it, and from what I’d heard I’d not really wanted to watch it, so admittedly I wasn’t particularly “open-minded” coming into it… I tried though…

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