To Save A Life
PG-13
Entertainment: +3
Acceptability: +2

Randy Wayne (The Dukes of Hazzard, Foreign Exchange, The Last Hurrah), Deja Kreutzberg (CSI Miami, Law and Order, Hope & Faith), Kim Hidalgo (Ball Don’t Lie, New Adventures of Old Christine) and Sean Michael Afable (Akeelah and the Bee). Written by Jim Britts. Directed by Brian Baugh (The Ultimate Gift).

It’s a lesson first brought forth to film audiences back in 1946’s It’s A Wonderful Life, when Jimmy Stewart’s George Bailey taught us that each life can affect others. The things we say and do can have a profound effect on so many. Viewing To Save A Life, I realized the message was alive and well and now aimed at a generation besieged by disconnecting elements disguised as conveniences.

Jake is a senior in high school, about to graduate to college with an athletic scholarship. He’s got the cheerleader girlfriend and the world by a string. But Jake is also haunted by his failings as a friend. Growing up with a best friend who saved his life, Jake abandoned his buddy, Roger, leaving his childhood friend to become a lonely outsider. Years later, feeling overwhelmed and alone, Roger commits suicide at the school right in front of Jake. And no matter how much Jake tries to fill up his daily life with sports, parties and his cute cheerleader, the guilt grinds away like sand in an oyster shell. (Though the activity in the shell produces a pearl, it nearly kills the oyster.)

As it happens, Jake meets a friendly youth pastor struggling to make inroads with a teen group desensitized to those around them by the T-words – twitter and texting. The assistant pastor offers the young man an opportunity to become a part of the youth department, believing Jake has depth and can unite his peers. Sure enough, Jake makes a spiritual change, but soon finds that being a Christian doesn’t eliminate life’s trials. Indeed, his beliefs are tested.

We have no idea how a small kindness can touch another soul. My elderly neighbor recently told me how moved she was when a young, Black woman with two children stopped and helped her up a mall escalator. She still refers to that young lady as “my guardian angel.” It brings tears to her eyes each time she thinks of that young woman’s tenderness. Think that lady is aware of how much that small kindness affected my friend?

To Save A Life has its share of message-laden misdemeanors seen in most “church-aimed” films, and because of so many subplots left unresolved, it feels more like a series pilot than a first-rate theatrical release. At times the direction seems sluggish, and some of the acting choices are high school musical-like, but the film’s sobering themes and the writer’s ability to string all the plotlines together into an absorbing story trump its minor disappointments. The potent climax satisfies the spirit and reminds the heart of His command to love one another. The film helps point out that caring for others completes us, that looking out for one another gives us true purpose and ultimately unites us.

An engaging, insightful film production, with a powerful ending, To Save A Life is both entertaining and spiritually rewarding.

Caution: To Save A Life contains some adult subject matter, including the portrayal of a teen suicide. Though this scene is handled discreetly, it is also jolting. Teen drinking, pot smoking is seen in one scene, some language is heard (though only minor expletives, nothing harsh or profane), and there is a sexual situation (though only brief and not graphic). It addresses serious issues, including teen pregnancy and other subjects facing today’s youth.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn

Summary
Crude Language: None
Obscene Language: A few minor expletives, but no harsh or profane language.
Profanity: None
Violence: A brief fight; a teen suicide is portrayed, but while disturbing, does not become too graphic; a car accident – not graphic.
Sexual Intercourse: One brief sexual situation that doesn’t become explicit.
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: Teen drinking, including a beer-chugging contest; a teen group is seen smoking pot – but used for storytelling purposes rather than exploitation.
Other: None
Running Time: Unknown
Intended Audience: Teens and Above

Copyright Preview Family Movie Review (www.previeoOnline.org)