To be released Memorial Day Weekend, it’s the story of these kids who go to American Eagle Christian Academy and go rah! rah! rah! for Jesus with every breath. Jena Malone plays Mary and thinks she can save her boyfriend from being gay if she sleeps with him and ends up very pregnant (her conclusions about what she is taught about Jesus are always very black and white and usually funny.)  Mandy Moore plays Hilary Faye (remeber Tammy Faye?) who is Jesus’ biggest supporter and resident saint – who irritates everyone with her perfection. She dismisses anyone who cannot live up to her standards – of course she thinks her standards are the same as those of Jesus standard.

This is a pretty funny film that does poke fun at the enthusiasm (and narrow mindedness) of Christians who don’t think about the consequences of excluding people who don’t live up to the way they think Jesus wants people to live. “If God wanted us all to think the same way, why did he make us so different?” asks Mary (she plays the adulteress figure from the Gospels really.) This may seem to some to veer off into moral relativity, but that’s not what the film is about. It’s about what happens when people excude others who are different and reminds us that Jesus hung out with those who were sinners and those who were different. It’s an in-your-face wake up call to think about who Jesus is for us and what righteousness means.

It made me a little uncomfortable at times because it pushes issues to the cultural and evangelical limits established by adults – just like kids would do. But it lands solidly on its feet by asking “What would Jesus do?” He would be with us as we struggle to figure out what is right – in charity – and by including those who are different in looks and beliefs. It embraces diversity and leaves many issues to be talked about.

Life is not a comic book (like Hellboy) and Saved! reminds viewers that there is a lot of grey out there.

Saved! is going to irritate some evangelical Christians like Dogma irritated traditional and older Catholics a few years ago because it questions accepted beliefs and cultural mores. But I recommend it to youth ministers and young adult ministers.

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