PG-13 for mature thematic elements involving teen suicide, teen drinking, some drug content, disturbing images and sexuality.
Jan. 22, 2010 (Limited)
Randy Wayne, Robert Bailey Jr, Sean Michael Afable, Bubba Lewis, Steven Crowder
Samuel Goldwyn Films
To Save a Life: Official Web site
To Save a Life: Theatrical Trailer
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To Save a Life
By Hannah Goodwyn
- Along the same lines as Facing the Giants and Fireproof, Outreach Films’ new project presents the Gospel message in movie form. Poised to meet the need of reaching the teenage crowd, To Save a Life covers a myriad of issues that plague our society today, including premarital sex, underage drinking, and suicide.
With a redemptive message at its core, this film is capable of transforming the lives of moviegoers just as it does with its title character.
The Movie in a Minute
Jake and Roger were childhood friends. With a basketball scholarship in his sights and fame at school, Jake begins to ignore his old buddy. That is until Roger shows up at school with a gun and kills himself. Everyone on campus seems complacent about what’s happened, except Jake. Roger’s suicide causes him to question what he’s living for. With Roger gone, Jake’s best friend finds another kid to bully presenting Jake with a choice – reach out or ignore him like he did to Roger. Searching for answers, Jake meets a local youth pastor named Chris, who offers him a way to settle the internal war waging within his soul.
The Good and the Bad
To Save a Life is a faith-based drama that exposes the real world teens live in today. The cast and crew have produced a movie that not only sidesteps the immorality found in most teen movies (Superbad, Youth in Revolt), but it also offers young crowds an opportunity to see what redemption looks like.
Solid acting performances are given by the key players, most of whom have had roles on television shows, such as Numb3rs, As the World Turns, and CSI: Miami. While To Save a Life presents strong moments of raw emotion, its weaker scenes undermine the movie's powerful message. And although the dialogue is believable, it is not profound.
A plus in the story is the characters Jake meets at the local church. Instead of portraying them as saints, the writer shines a light on hypocrisy in the youth group. These “Christian” kids are shown smoking pot at school and disregarding advice from Pastor Chris. The most evil of the characters is the pastor’s mischievous son. Initially, Jake is repelled by the fakers he sees at church. He has to decide if he believes that God is real no matter what “the church” does. Listening to a CD from Pastor Chris, Jake asks a question many of us do when tragedy hits our lives: Why doesn’t God do something to stop it? Chris says, he wonders if God ever wants to ask us the same question.
The film’s storyline moves in the right direction, but is bogged down with too many issues, including underage drinking, premartial sex, suicide, teen pregnancy, abortion, cutting, adultery, divorce, and school violence. These problems are important to discuss in teen films, especially ones with a faith focus, but it is just too much for one movie to handle.
Moviegoers should be aware of the film’s potentially offensive content. Although nothing is shown on screen, Jake and his girlfriend have sex. At one of the parties, the teens play a drinking game. And of course, you have the drug use and cutting and suicide scenes as well.
The Final Call
To Save a Life sends a good message to teens about faith, life, and loving others. It’s worth the ticket price for that, if nothing else.
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Hannah Goodwyn is CBN.com's Family and Entertainment producer. For more articles and information, visit Hannah's bio page.
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