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Tolerance, Acceptance at Heart of Film

"Saved" draws criticism over controversial depictions

June 5, 2004


Saved is an entertaining dark comedy, which follows the miss-adventures of teenager Mary (Jena Malone), who initially lives a great life with her single mother Lillian (Mary-Louise Parker).

Mary belongs to the "Christian Jewels," a group of girls led by do-gooder, Hillary Faye (Mandy Moore) who is on a mission to "Save" sinners in her Baptist high school. When Mary's boyfriend tells her he's gay, she believes God wants her to save him from his 'sinful' ways, by offering her virginity, but later she has to deal with the consequences: pregnancy. She's soon rejected by her friends and nearly the whole school.

Roland (Macauley Culkin) plays a likable wheelchair bound boy who teams up with the schools biggest rebel, and only Jewish student Cassandra (Eva Amurri) to become Mary's unlikely allies. Of course Hillary Faye tries to save her soul and get her back into the Christian group, but she realizes that her old gang is very self righteous, and judgmental, so she is no longer interested in living her life by others standards. Eventually, even Pastor Skip (Martin Donovan) realizes that no one is perfect; we must love people for who they are, and not try to change them to how we think they should be.

At the red carpet premier in Hollywood, I had the opportunity to speak with the star of Saved, Jena Malone. I asked her about the possible controversy from religious groups regarding the film. "People who haven't seen the film are more weary and vying controversy, than ones who have actually seen it, and know this film is very much Pro-Christian. This film definitely delivers a Pro-Faith message."

When asked about the kinds of problems teenagers face today, Malone, nineteen, thought a moment, then said, "Your Mountains are my molehills. I feel like a lot of the drama we deal with in high school, in those environments, is self-created. For me, looking back, I realize now that my hardest times in high school were all about nothing. We're not given the opportunity to search out different types of experiences at that age and so I think we have a more limited perspective when were young. I wish I can let more kids realize that they should enjoy their youth, and not sweat the small stuff."

photo of Jena Malone
Jena Malone w/Angela

Next, Mandy Moore stopped to speak with me. I asked her if she was ever in one of these "popular" groups at school? "I was never in a group, but I was friends with some of the girls in the cliques. I was always somewhere between being really popular and being sort of a bookworm."

photo of Mandy Moore
Mandy Moore w/Angela

I asked her if she ever meet anyone like your character, Hillary. "Well, I actually went to a Catholic School for a little bit, so I know these kinds of people really exist. They are not bad people by any means. My character means well even if she is a little misguided."

With a singing career, and now an acting career, plus a reported clothing line coming out, I asked Mandy how she does it all. Moore laughed, "I am very busy at the moment, and you are right -- I do have a line of T-shirts that have to do with music with quotes from my favorite songs. I am also involved in the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. I wanted the proceeds from my shirts to go to this organization."

Lastly, I had to ask Mandy if she actually prays herself? "I have. Mostly praying is just someone to talk to. I like knowing and believing that there is someone there to listen to me."

There are several teen movies out this year that plot your standard hero vs. villains, but when you really think about it, Saved is a bit deeper than that. There have been complaints from the religious right regarding a so-called lack of respect for religion in this film, but I really feel this movie is more about tolerance than anything else. This film is about acceptance of the handicapped, teen pregnancy, abortion protesters, homosexuality, rebellious youth, and yes, even overzealous fundamentalist Christians. We all have our issues, and we must not pass judgment on others who may have different beliefs -- I think that's the real moral of this story, and I happen to agree with that.

Angela Riccio is a Hollywood correspondent for GirlsNewsDaily.com, covering music and movies. A lover of the I Love Lucy show from an early age, Angela's interests include learning martial arts, playing musical instruments and other entertainment activities. Artists she has previously interviewed include Jennifer Lopez, Avril Lavigne and Nelly.

e-mail Angela at: StarStruckAngie@aol.com

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