Sure, it’s fun to catch the latest flick at the multiplex, or grab the newest release at a video store, but sometimes you just gotta say, “Out with the new, and in with the unknown.” There are plenty of older flicks out there that are worth a rental, but never registered on your radar. In Don’t You Forget About, we remember the long-gone gems, so you don’t have to.
Her name is Mary and she’s pregnant. And she’s a virgin. Kinda. Well, she thought God would restore her because she only did it because Jesus wanted her to save her gay boyfriend. But now he has a boyfriend. And so does she.
Saved! is just the perfect teen flick, incidentally, about not being perfect. Mary (Jena Malone) is a devout Christian, attending American Eagle Christian High School with her Christian best friend Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore). The two, along with Christian friend Veronica, are part of a Christian girl band call Christian Jewels and their lives are full of Christ-love. It’s all Bible studies and prayer groups until the summer before her senior year, Mary’s boyfriend Dean (Chad Faust) confesses to her underwater that he’s gay. After a divine vision from the Lord, Mary realizes that she must do all in her power to return Dean to his straight state. This means make-out sessions, boob-groping and having sex.
It all proves useless when senior year begins and Dean’s parents send him to Mercy House, a Christian treatment centre that drug abuse, alcoholism, unwed mothers and apparently, “de-gayification.”
The year begins. Cassandra (Eva Amurri), the only Jewish girl and bad-ass at American Eagle, starts dating Hilary Faye’s brother Roland (Macaulay Culkin), who lost the use of his legs as a kid and now uses a wheelchair. Patrick (Patrick Fugit) is the new skateboarder with a Vespa and a crush on Mary. Tia (Heather Matarazzo), the geeky chick with too many part-time jobs, just wants to be a Christian Jewel and when Mary starts straying from the clique, Tia gets her dream.
It’s really the vibrancy of the characters that make this film come to life. Take Hilary Faye. She’s the angelic bitch in the oddest combination possible. She leads prayer circles, yet pitches the Bible at people like a weapon. Oh and she’s played by Mandy Moore, the “Candy”-ing singing goldilocks turned Walk to Remember dorky sweetheart. She is the complete anti-bitch and yet in Saved!, no one could have played Hilary Faye better.
Then there’s Cassandra. She was rumoured to be a stripper before transferring to American Eagle and she’s covered in more smoke than Mary Poppins. What is the Jewish girl with the rotten potty-mouth even doing at that school anyway?
Behind these lively characters is always something deeper. Like Tia, the loser-geek who just wants to be popular, she has serious issues at home. The film never directly explores them but it’s tough not to hold a soft spot for her untold stories.
What also keeps the film rolling are its hilarious one-liners. To Hilary Faye, Roland isn’t disabled, he just has “different abled-ness.” And Pastor Skip’s (Martin Donovan) illusions that he’s actually cool lead to some gold. He amps up the students at the assembly, “Are you down with G.O.D?!” You almost expect him to answer “Hells yes” but that just wouldn’t be appropriate. But by far, the awesome-line trophy goes to Tia. Her first line in the film: “I think Jesus appeared to me in my fish tank!” The real winner though is when she finds out that Dean is gay and says to Mary, “Sorry to hear about Dean’s faggotry.”
Underneath it all though, it’s a film that teens can relate to. Everyone in the film is going through that confusing adolescent faze, the one when you deal with sex and relationships and backstabbers and God. In its exaggeration of two extremes – the perfectionist who crashes hard and the lost girl who finds pure happiness – everyone else seems to fit in somewhere. It’s OK when things go wrong, it’s OK if you’re confused and it’s OK if you’re gay. It’s only part of that mucky mess that is adolescence.