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The Passion of the Mean Girls

The Passion of the Mean Girls

Yesterday, when I was out running errands, I drove by the Arbor theater here in Austin and saw lines of people swarming outside the box office. Seeing as how this was at 12:30 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon, I really didn’t know what to make of it. Sure enough, it was another kind of church crowd, one there to see Saved!
The fact that this many people would be around to catch a film at this time of the day was a tiny bit surprising to me. For Harry Potter maybe, but an arthouse film by a newbie director with a cast of 20 year-olds? Regardless, it seemed to go well, which is great news. It makes sense, what with the set-up provided by not only The Passion of the Christ, but also Mean Girls. This film is really The Passion of the Mean Girls, and the box office reports are testifying it. Of course it probably won’t hit the box office totals of either one of those films, but it will surely do great business this summer.
Some critics attack Saved! as being too nice to religion. In my opinion, Saved! is incredibly successful in being one of the most objective and hard-to-define films in theaters right now. How else could you explain a film produced by Michael Stipe but starring Mandy Moore? Full disclosure: we screened Saved! at SXSW 2004 and it went over really well. Regardless, I think the film will likely be a cult/mainstream crossover in the vein of Election, a film who’s tone Saved! certainly echoes.
Whatever, point is, Saved! is a sturdy teen film, much smarter and funnier than anything the Olsen twins ever did. What’s more, it’s a film masked in several layers. It’s an adult comedy masked as a teen comedy. It’s a satire masked as syrup. It’s an indie-minded film masked as a Hollywood feature. There’s just no masking what it ultimately is: a certifiable hit.

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