Saved directed by Brian Dannelly ISBN: 0792861930
Plot Summary: Mary attends American Eagle Christian High School with her best friend Hilary Faye and boyfriend Dean. She’s popular, involved in extracurricular activities, goes to church, and gets along with her mom. When Dean tells her that he thinks he’s gay, Mary has a vision telling her to save Dean…which leads to them having sex and Mary getting pregnant. When Hilary Faye finds out, she rejects Mary and enlists the help of others to try and “save” her. Now Mary must rely on the school outcasts, Cassandra, the only Jewish person at her school and Hilary’s Faye’s brother, Roland, who is confined to a wheelchair for friendship and help in navigating this new development. When her teacher’s cute new son joins the class, Mary’s life gets even more complicated.
Critical Evaluation: This movie is narrated by Mary, and it provides a great direction and frame for the story. Initially, she thinks of herself as wholesome and devoted to her religion the way she’s been taught to believe. You see her tagging along with Hilary Faye and idolizing her. Everything changes when Dean is sent away to a school for homosexuals, and she finds out that she is pregnant. You see her transformation from feeling like a blessed person to one that maybe God forgot. Her friendship with Cassandra and Roland comes on suddenly, but I think we can tell that Mary is wounded and lonely and in need of any support. It’s surprising that it comes from the brash and inappropriate Cassandra, but she turns out to be the most accepting person, because she doesn’t have a religious filter through which to judge Mary. It’s interesting to see how quickly Mary adjusts to having Cassandra and Roland as friends, never quite idolizing them to the same extent as Hilary Faye, but still adapting herself to fit in better with them.
The religious element of this movie is certain to be touchy for some. Mary sort of loses her faith in the middle of the story, and her savior ends up being the least religious person in the movie. That being said, she returns to Christianity, and finds others in the faith that are more accepting of differences in others’ lives. I would think that people would appreciate this message, but it will depend on the Christian. For me, it makes her faith that much more powerful, because she has thought about it more critically and incorporated elements that are important to her, while eschewing those that don’t fit her new outlook on life (But I’m just a heathen, so my opinion won’t be shared by everyone).
Reader’s Annotation: Imagine going to a Christian high school and being a member of the “Christian Jewels,” and then getting pregnant. Welcome to Mary’s new life. This sweet and funny film explores accepting yourself and others, even if things don’t turn out quite the way you planned them.
Information about the director: Brian Dannelly was born in Wurtzberg, Germany. He moved to Baltimore, Maryland at the age of 11. He attended several schools and changed his major several times before completing his bachelor’s degree in visual arts from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
He created several short films before writing Saved with his longtime collaborator Michael Urban. It was his first feature film. He continues to write and direct films.
Genre: Realistic Movie, Comedy
Curriculum ties, if any: I think this movie would spark great debates about religion…but that isn’t exactly appropriate for a public school class.
Booktalking Ideas: With movies that have situational elements like this one, I would gravitate towards trying to get teens to empathize with Mary, but I would also want to highlight the comedy and notable members of the cast, like Mandy Moore and Macaulay Culkin.
Reading Level/Interest Age: Mary is a senior at her high school, and some of the topics make this more appropriate for an older viewer.
- Sexual Content
- Drug and alcohol use
- Teen Pregnancy
- First, I would want to be familiar with the movie. As I’ve seen this movie, I’d be aware of potential issues that could be challenged. In the case of an item I was not familiar with, I would want to have access to reviews.
- Then I would put together a rationale for why this movie is included in the collection. This rationale would include:
- Bibliographic Citation of the movie.
- A description of who the movie is best suited for.
- A summary of the movie and applicable other information, such as biographical information about the director.
- My justification for including the movie. This would include how it fits in with the selection policy and library mission statement, and include its educational significance if applicable or the impact it could have on readers.
- Copy of selection policy and library mission statement at my library.
- ALA Library Bill of Rights
- Good and bad reviews of the movie
- Alternative works a student could read or watch
- Reconsideration form if patron is not satisfied with rationale
- When talking to patron, I would listen to their concerns without getting on the defensive and attempt to sympathize with their concerns. In some cases, all an upset patron needs is to be able to vent and know that someone is listening to them.
- If needed, I would send the challenge up the chain of command.
I don’t think anyone could confuse this movie with one that encourages teens to get pregnant. Mary suffers socially and physically as a result of her pregnancy. I think that some may be offended by the portrayal of Christianity in this movie, although it is a complex issue that shows some Christians as being very accepting, and others as struggling to find acceptance. I think it has an important story, about the consequences of our actions, but also about learning to be more open minded.
Why did you include this movie? : I think it is a great movie with a difficult premise that manages to still be funny.
Biography for Brian Dannelly (2013). Internet Movie Database. Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0200380/bio