For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. ---Ephesians 6:12

"The age of casual Catholicism is over; the age of heroic Catholicism has begun. We can no longer be Catholics by accident, but instead must be Catholics by CONVICTION." ---Fr. Terrence Henry TOR, Franciscan University of Steubenville

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Movie Review of

SAVED *(out of four)
Starring Mandy Moore and Jena Malone

Before I saw this movie (for free on TNT) I was warned that it was anti-Christian, and that the writers of the screenplay didn’t have a clue as to what following Christ is really about. After seeing the movie I am convinced of the latter but only somewhat of the former.

Mandy Moore does a great job playing a legalistic, judgmental Christian named Hilary, who goes beyond “witnessing” in her attempts at converting others by using crisis intervention tactics—like blocking the hallways along with her friends, or attempting to kidnap the would-be convert and throwing him/her into their van for “treatment.” For Hilary, Christianity is all about behavior modification. It is clear that she lacks compassion for others, and at the end mires in bitterness. Her only hope at that point comes from her wheelchair bound brother, a nonbeliever, who offers to help her with her “problems.” One can only assume that rather than correcting her misperceptions of God’s grace, he will instead try to deprogram her of her faith, reasoning that you don’t have to be Christian to be nice to people.

Hilary’s nemesis, whom she constantly tries to convert, is Cassandra, played convincingly enough by Eva Amurri. Cassandra, a Jewish girl attending a Christian school but determined not to convert, brings to mind Matthew 13:19. She has heard the word and “understandeth it not” as a person who received the “seed” by the wayside. She becomes a hero in the end for having a big heart, though she still chooses the earthly path rather than the spiritual one, thinking she only has to rely on herself.

Mary, played wonderfully by Jena Malone for her innocence, seems to turn against God a bit too easily when in trouble (see Matthew 13:21). Blaming God for her pregnancy when it was she who encouraged her boyfriend to engage in sex without protection, seems a bit shortsighted for a girl with such strong-willed faith. But many young Christians do feel persecuted when they don’t get what they pray for—a sign of spiritual immaturity.

The main problem with this movie is that no one has spiritual maturity, especially the writers of the screenplay. Even the most sinful pastor will answer “YES” when asked by a teenage homosexual, “Does Jesus still love me?” The pastor in this movie stands speechless and clueless. Since there are no real answers given to the audience of this film, many of whom are looking for answers, I will give one here:

Saint Augustine said something that at first sounds irresponsible when not fully understood. He said “love God and then do as you please.” What he meant is that when we really love Jesus intensely for who He is and what He sacrificed for us, our hearts will change. Sinful behavior we used to commit no longer has the same appeal to us as before; while being obedient to God brings us pleasure when we have true love and devotion to Christ. We are still sinners, but no longer by desire. We are not perfect but forgiven. Would it have been so difficult to include just one character at a Christian school who mentions this? The difficulty lies in finding screenwriters in today’s Hollywood who have any knowledge or true understanding whatsoever about Christianity that isn’t stereotypically negative. They just don’t have a clue.

In defense of the movie I will say that most of the time it was funny and cleverly crafted. Each of the characters appears to be essential to the plot. The problem is that they forgot the most essential of them all.