Fix: Snark, Mandy Moore, Youth Group Nostalgia
Platforms: Netflix, Prime Video
When Mary, a devout senior at a Christian high school, accidentally gets pregnant, she starts to see her peers and her faith in a whole new way in this darkly comic coming-of-age story that was produced by R.E.M. front man Michael Stipe.
After having sex with her boyfriend to save him from being gay, Mary finds herself knocked up with a baby… and a shizz ton of questions about her religious lifestyle. Her mom, a Christian version of Lorelai Gilmore, isn’t someone she can turn to, and her friends at school, led by queen bee Hilary Faye, are too caught up in staying pure to put up with any of Mary’s doubts. She finds herself drawn to the school outcasts- Roland, a misanthrope in a wheelchair, and Cassandra, the only Jew in the entire school–as well as the pastor’s son, Patrick, newly returned from some kind of Skateboarding for Jesus tour. While the film pokes fun at the trappings of Christian culture, it also thoughtfully examines the role of faith in our society. Oh yeah, and it’s HILARIOUS.
As a teen, I spent a massive amount of time with my church youth group, which might explain why Saved! is my FAVORITE. There are many, many moments in the film, from the worship songs to the peer pressure, that ring true to my experience, but the appeal of this movie is so universal, you’ll love it even if you’ve never stepped foot inside a church.
On the surface, this cast feels wildly random– a former child star, a former pop star, Susan Sarandon’s daughter– and yet they fit together perfectly. It might seem like a joke to say this, given the premise of the film, but it honestly feels like something divine happened when these actors got together.
I mean, look at this picture. How much do you wish you were on that red carpet? SO MUCH. I’m pretty sure that, when I die, my biggest regret will be that I was not a member of the Saved! cast.
Jena Malone as Mary
Before she was the totally fierce Johanna, Jena Malone played a sweet and angsty pregnant teen. In anyone else’s hands, Mary could be obnoxious in her rebellion or far too emo, but Jena lends a sublime nuance to the role.
Heather Matarazzo as Tia and Mandy Moore as Hilary Faye
Heather Matarazzo is fantastic as always, but Mandy Moore, in true Hilary Faye style, is defintely the star of the movie. She was born to play this role, and it’s certainly the highlight of her cinematic career. Self-righteous and overzealous, Hilary Faye epitomizes the dangers of Christian culture, plus she’s freaking HILARIOUS.
Patrick Fugit as Patrick
Patrick, the pastor’s son, would definitely have been my ideal as a teen, with his MLD ways and his skater skills. But now, as an adult, I feel differently. And by that I mean, I was way too scared to kiss boys when I was in high school, but now, I would BE ALL OVER THIS DUDE. Patrick is SO quietly charming and unbelievably adorable, and the way he falls for Mary makes me want to invest in a fainting couch because SA-WOON.
Eva Amurri as Cassandra and Macaulay Culkin as Roland
Eva Amurri (Susan Sarandon’s daughter) is dynamite as the school rebel, and Macaulay Culkin is just straight up awesome. Obviously, I love Home Alone, but this is by far his best role, and his sarcastic brilliance makes me wish he still made movies.
Mary-Louise Parker as Lillian
While not as bad as the mother on Weeds, Parker plays a pretty ridiculous adult who unfortunately reminds me of a few moms I knew back in youth group.
Martin Donovan as Pastor Skip
Pastor Skip! A lesser film would have made him the villain, but in Saved!, Martin Donovan plays a complex man just trying to do the right thing while heavily abusing slang.
Pew Couch-Sharing Capability: Let the Spirit Move You
This is crowd-pleaser, for sure, so a big group would only amplify the laughs. But the emotional depth of the story might be better suited for viewing alone or with a close friend (at least, for the first time). Really, it just depends on your mood.
Recommended Level of Inebriation: Go Easy on the Communion Wine
While I would certainly never discourage you from enjoying an adult beverage, it would be a crime to be intoxicated while watching this movie. (Well, unless you’ve seen it a hundred times like… a friend of mine. We’ll call her… Parah Sitre.) The script is wickedly sharp, and you don’t want to dull it down with alcohol.
Use of Your Streaming Subscription: Heavenly
Saved! is a brilliant satire with a heart of gold, and whether or not you’re down with G-O-D, you will totally worship this movie.