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Saved! is the heartwarming story of love, redemption, religion, high school, hypocrisy, and teenage pregnancy. Movies have gone after far less heady subjects and done far worse. Remarkably, this film doesn't make fun of religion per se, but the hypocrisy found in far too many people who claim to be religious. It's a funny movie, but its need to tiptoe around heavy religion waters it down to some extent. Jena Malone plays Mary, one of the cool kids in her Christian high school. She sleeps with her boyfriend because Jesus told her that would "cure" him of being gay. She, of course, gets pregnant and disillusioned. I swear, it's a comedy.
The 1.85:1 anamorphic video has no major flaws but isn't incredibly detailed and, as a result, looks slightly soft. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio fares about the same, with little in the surrounds or sub and not much sound quality to speak of. You can hear the dialogue (and Mandy Moore's obligatory musical number) just fine, and that's all that's really needed for a movie like this.
On the extras front, there are a few bloopers, a number of deleted/extended scenes, and a fluff behind-the-scenes documentary. You get two commentaries: one with the director/co-writer, the other writer, and a producer; another with Malone and Moore. Michael Stipe (you know, from R.E.M.) was also a producer, and his commentary is decidedly absent.
This one's not really worth buying, but it is worth a rental.—Geoffrey Morrison
DVD: The Shawshank Redemption Two-Disc Special Edition—Warner Brothers
If you don't already own at least one version of writer/director Frank Darabont's pretty-much-unquestioned modern classic, you probably aren't reading this magazine. But for the record, Shawshank is that rare perfect film, and any cinephile worth their weight in Goobers is required to have it on their shelf. The real question here is whether this special edition is superior enough to Warner's frustratingly recent bare-bones release to warrant dropping the green and sending your existing copy to the landfill.
The previous version, while anamorphic, suffered from a dirty print, crackling red tones, and an overall murkiness, all problems that have been corrected in this new 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer. It's difficult at times to appreciate the intentionally depressing prison sequences for their visual beauty, but the film's final moments out in autumnal New England and on that metaphor-for-heaven Mexican beach are all the more stunning and wide-open as a result.
This two-disc set is packed to the leg irons (give me some leeway here, it's a prison film) with extras, including two extensive documentaries in which all of the principal actors, crew, and executives mercifully took part. Darabont's audio commentary is much more accessibly down-to-earth than most, and a 25-minute spoof of the film (starring—get this—Morgan Freeman's son) is actually pretty damned funny.
So, yeah. The heft and quality of this edition should be enough to outweigh the irritation of buying the same frickin' movie twice in such a short period. Come on...it's Shawshank.—Dan Vebber