Saved! (2004)

Saved! is available to rent or buy now.

Director Brian Dannelly once said that his film Saved! was based on his own experiences in an ultra-religious high school as he struggled with his sexuality. Maybe it’s due to this that Dannelly’s Saved! carries such a raw honesty as one of the best comedies of 2004 and one of the most audacious. Yet, Saved! also remains a film very few people have seen despite a Sundance premiere and a positive US theatrical run.

On the surface, Saved! appears to be your standard teen high school comedy, with the classic popular kids, geeks, outcasts and rebels all taking their place on the High School stage. But, Saved! is far from your average teen comedy. As the summer sun beats down on small-town America we meet the passionate evangelical ‘good girl’ Mary (Jena Malone). Mary’s life is all about God, Jesus and the Christian Jewels (a popular religious clique at school who organise events and sing in assemblies). Even Mary’s mum is the symbol of spiritual perfection, with the title of No. 1 Christian interior decorator. But Mary’s perfect Christian boyfriend, Dean (Chad Faust), is about to drop a bombshell as he announces he might be gay. Suddenly the summer sun is eclipsed by a giant blood-coloured gay moon, and Mary is filled with a horror she has never experienced. Therefore, Mary takes it upon herself to cure Dean by any means necessary.


Mary’s cure involves extended kissing sessions and breast fondling, but Dean lacks any passion as the gay monster eats away at him from the inside out. After catching him gazing at a toned ‘and male’ figure in a dirty magazine Mary takes the bold step of deciding to have sex with Dean, who duly uses the magazine images to help his performance. But even this does not cure Dean’s homosexuality, and his parents quickly send him to Mercy House, a Christian boarding school specialising in drug rehabilitation and ‘degayification’.

Knowing she has failed in the Lord’s mission, a new school year begins at American Eagle Christian High School. But Mary’s world is about to become even more complicated as she discovers the result of her radical attempts to cure Dean. Pregnancy! She can’t tell her ultra-evangelical friends, especially Hilary Faye, who is disgusted her disabled brother (Macaulay Culkin) is in a relationship with the only Jew in school, the rebellious Cassandra (Eva Amurri).

You may be expecting me to praise Saved! for its sharp dissection of religion and the ever-present double standards it represents, and Saved! does indeed take a razor-sharp scalpel to the hate and intolerance of many religious people that masquerades as love and unity. But Saved! also has no intention of ridiculing faith or belief, and it’s here where Dannelly’s movie is truly ingenious. At its heart, Saved! highlights the ability of all faiths to embrace change, diversity and equality if they choose to do so.


Some may argue this is a cop-out to avoid offending religious communities, but for me, it’s a voice of hope in the ability of religions to transform and embrace new perspectives. Does that mean Saved! is perfect? No, there are flaws, from its light touch discussions on the horror of conversion therapy to its perfect ending. But, Saved! remains an outstanding satirical dissection of religion and the need for social change, even in beliefs. After all, humanity is ever-changing, evolving and learning, so surely religions need to do the same?

error: Alert: Content selection is disabled!!