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Monday, August 15, 2016

'Saved!' BD: Macaulay Culkin Shines in BEST Christian High School Satire EVER

Saved - 887090125710
Spectacular purveyor of classic and cult films on DVD and Blu-ray Olive Films shows exceptional diversity regarding the four August 16, 2016 releases that Unreal TV is reviewing this week. These reviews start with sharing love for long-time favorite 2004 comedy "Saved!," which has Jena Malone as Christian high school senior Mary who gets pregnant after having sex with her boyfriend for one of the most hilarious reasons ever.

The remaining (equally excellent Blu-ray (and DVD) releases are the historical drama "The Pride and the Passion with sCary Grant and Frank Sinatra,"the 1970 Liza Minnelli classic drama "Tell me that you love me, Junie Moon," and the groovy psychedelic 1968 film "Wild in the Streets" with Shelley Winters as the middle-class mother of a rock star aggressively promoting a voting age of 14.

As an aside, watching all four film during the weekend of August 13-14 was one of the most awesome film festivals ever.

"Saved!," which takes great advantage of Blu-ray as to the the bright sunny suburban setting and the rocking soundtrack in this film produced by Michael Stipe of REM, has so much awesomeness that this review surely will commit the sin of missing some of these points. Penance will be be offered in the form of enduring (the Unreal TV uber-panned) "Batman v. Superman" again sometime in the future.

The first notable thing about "Saved!" from a 2016 perspective is that it is a comedy that actually is funny. The combination of the talented and well-cast ensemble of actors, hilarious dialogue, and expert directing are COMPLETELY unheard of regarding major and moderate releases these days. Standouts among the cast are Mandy Moore and (very surprisingly) Macaulay Culkin as sister and brother uber-Heather/holier than all Hilary Faye and her hilariously cynical and adorable wheelchair-bound (aptly named) Roland. Seeing Heather Matarazzo of (also Unreal TV long-time fave) "Welcome to the Dollhouse" as lower-Heather hanger-on Tia also is great fun.

Lesser-known Eva Amuri deserves praise (pun intended) as tough-girl with a heart of silver Casandra, who is the token Jew at the American Eagle Christian school that the gang attends. The first scene that she steals is her inaugural one in which she feigns speaking in tongues during a beginning of the school year assembly. This scene also involves a hilarious bit by both Culkin and cute skate rat/son a preacher man Patrick, played by Patrick Fugit.

The next awesome thing about "Saved!" is that it pulls off a double "Tom and Jerry" trick by keeping oft-repeated concepts (e.g. a cat chasing a mouse) fresh and entertaining. In this case, the satired themes are the holier-than-thou attitude of devout Christians and the aforementioned "Heathers" (a third all-time fave) concept of a queen "B" and her hive collective ruthlessly ruling a high school in a manner that resistance is futile.

The excellent script further has a well-paced story with a genuine beginning, middle, and end that revolves around the senior year of our "Christian Jewels." Writer/director/Catholic school survivor Brian Dannelly even pulls off the neat trick of keeping the prom night climax cliche fresh. No, Hilary Faye does not get doused in a bucket full of the blood of Christ.

At the risk of spoiling much about this film that stays just as good and fresh after several viewings, "Saved!" starts with Mary finding out during the final days of summer that boyfriend Dean (Chad Faust in a role that will prompt fantassies by many fans of his TNT scifi series "Falling Skies") thinks that he is gay. Believing that she has a duty to save Dean, Mary encourages hilarious acts that result in the aforementioned teen pregnancy. The ultimate outing of Dean gives Roland one of his best lines in smirking and stating that the obvious gayness of Dean makes him his own one-man Pride parade.

Dean is soon shipped off, and Mary starts the school year with her reputation and secret temporarily intact. Her own forced coming out exiles her to the land of the misfit goys where she learns (ala Billy Joel)  that she would rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints because the sinners have much more fun.

A John Hughes element comes in the form of Patrick adorkably pursuing Mary; suffice it to say, they do make a cute pair.

The bottom line regarding "Saved!" is that it pulls off the "miracle" of doing an excellent job presenting material that is relatable both from real and reel life in a manner that does its job of allowing you to escape from the harsh realities of its subject matter and other stress in your life.

The "blessing" in the form of a plethora of extras include the original trailer, a couple of "making of" features, a blooper reel, and deleted/extended scenes.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Saved!" is strongly encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.