Hard-core Christians are going to hate this movie. Then again, the whole point of it is to make fun of them.

Saved! has balls. It is genuinely funny. Why then did the moviemakers make their cynical and caustic movie, well, sweet? These are not compatible concepts -- and in the long run the schmaltz only serves to undermine the dark comedy.

Much like the students at American Eagle Christian High School, Saved! has its flaws. Mandy Moore is proof positive why singers should not pursue acting careers. And puberty has not been kind to Macaulay Culkin's acting skills. Nonetheless, he is the source of many of the raucous and entirely un-PC lines that keep the audience on their toes.

The religious environment provides a candid view for such serious issues as disabilities, homosexuality and teen pregnancy. Saved! is refreshing for its unapologetically strong statement and subversive undertones. What else would one expect from a movie where the characters routinely describe themselves as "Jesus freaks?"

Saved! has heart. Jena Malone, starring as the lead character, Mary, proves herself to have some serious staying power. In the end, it is the dark comedy that really hits home, and provides Saved! with its redemption.


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