Heaven Help Us
What do screenwriters do when the genres of teen comedy and religious epic have been squeezed dry? They create a hybrid of the two, of course! Combine the bitchiest queen bitch ever, pregnancy, the fantastic line, 'Jesus loves you, everyone else thinks you're an a**hole', Macaulay Culkin in a wheelchair, and you have Saved!
Mary (Malone) is a Christian Angel - one of Hilary 'Miss Gung-ho Christianity' Faye's (Moore) holier-than-thou clique at American Eagle Christian High School. However, Mary's religious upbringing hasn't prepared her for her boyfriend's 'gayification'; but she's always been taught 'you're not born a gay, you're born again'. Attempting to steer him back towards heterosexuality, they sleep together. Afterwards his parents ship him off to Mercy House where he can be cured, but that's okay because his room-mate is there for the same reason, and they're getting along just fine go figure. This leaves Mary feeling nauseous especially in the mornings. 'Please let it be cancer', she prays before taking a home pregnancy test. It's not. Moral ambiguity and lots of witty backstabbing ensue, and quicker than you can say, 'nine months later', it's prom night.
First-time director Dannelly has created the best teen satire since Election. The film examines the sanctimonious tenets of Far Right Christianity; where even in schools in which 'evolution' is near heresy, the same teenage angst exists. Here, it is Mary's coming to terms with not fitting in, by, becoming friends with Hilary-Faye's disabled, cynical brother Roland (Culkin) and the renegade Cassandra (Amurri), the 'only Jewish at school', whom Hilary desperately tries to convert.
The comedy captures the anxieties we all faced at school without becoming too clichéd. Hilary-Faye is only the scarier for believing that God is always on her side. Moore's performance, is both a brave choice and miles better than other pop-princesses-turned-actresses, other standouts are Culkin and Amurri, who wittily underplay their comedy. When the two see Mary enter the pregnancy clinic Cassandra tells Roland, 'There's only one reason a good Christian girl goes to Planned Parenthood'. 'She's planting a pipe bomb?' he replies. Saved! is definitely a saving grace amongst teen-comedies; you don't have to look any further.
Screenings of this film:
|2004/2005 Spring Term – (35mm)|