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Okay. This movie is kind of... I mean the feel of it is like... eh. It mostly seems like... I dunno. Um, well, it starts out seeming like it's making fun of devout Christians. Sort of. The main character is this girl named Mary (Jenna Malone), who is about to start her senior year at a Christian high school. But shortly before the summer break ends, her boyfriend, Dean, tells her he thinks he's gay. And then, during an incident where Mary nearly drowns, she thinks she has a vision of Jesus telling her to help Dean, which of course she thinks means, help him not be gay. So ultimately, she has sex with him. But then Dean's parents find a gay porn magazine in his room, and send him to this place for dealing with... basically anything Christian parents might find unacceptable, such as kids who are gay. And Dean's totally the kind of guy who would buy into that, wanting to be "fixed." But we don't actually see that much of him throughout the movie.
Mostly, it focuses on Mary and the other people in her life. She has a mother, Lillian (Mary-Louise Parker), who's had to raise Mary alone, since the father died when Mary was like three, or something. And now Lillian is interested in Pastor Skip, who is the principal of Mary's school. (He's separated from his wife, but doesn't want a divorce, believing that goes against God's wishes. Which makes him reluctant to act on his feelings for Lillian.) There's also a girl named Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore), the leader of a Christian music group called the Christian Jewels, which includes Mary and another girl named Veronica. And there's a girl named Tia (Heather Matarazzo), who wants to be one of the Jewels, and basically be friends with them, but they just find her annoying. And there's a guy named Roland (Macaulay Culkin), who is Hilary Faye's brother, and who is in a wheelchair. He is quite cynical and doesn't really think of himself as Christian. And there's a Jewish girl at school named Cassandra, who is a total rebel, a bad girl, and Roland is into her, while Hilary Faye wants to "save" her. And then there's this new kid named Patrick, who is Pastor Skip's son. He's immediately drawn to Mary, and she likes him too, but at first she's still confused about the whole Dean thing. And also, Hilary Faye is clearly interested in Patrick, though he doesn't seem that interested in her.
Anyway... it's time for a spoiler, but one I can't avoid sharing. Mary finds out she's pregnant, which totally confuses and troubles her, making her question everything she's ever believed. It seems like she had tried to do God's will by going against what she'd always thought was God's will, in order to fix something that was even more against God's will, and now... God was punishing her. Or something. Of course, she hides the truth from her mother and her friends, but this crisis of faith quickly drives her apart from those friends. (She's soon replaced by Tia, though Tia still isn't well treated by Hilary Faye.) Meanwhile, Roland had been hanging out with Cassandra, and they both figure out that Mary is pregnant... which leads to Mary becoming friends with them. The ironic thing is, they act in a much more Christian manner than the Christians do... Or um, hmmm. I shouldn't really say that. I don't think anyone in this movie acted in a perfectly Christian way, it's just that everyone was unChristian in different ways. And maybe the ones who seemed more unChristian, were actually.... meh, you get the idea. There'll be a lot of conflict between Mary's new group and Hilary Faye's group, with Patrick basically caught in the middle.
Well, I don't want to say too much more. But I have to say, Mary's efforts to hide her pregnancy were unbelievably successful. She wore a lot of vaguely baggy clothes (starting around Christmas), but even by the time she was due, you couldn't really tell. Anyway, everything finally comes to a head at the prom. That's all I'll say about the plot. It's kind of a funny movie, and there are some genuinely touching dramatic moments, and believable characters. Even if a lot of the time everyone seems kind of like over-the-top and potentially offensive caricatures. I'd say it's kind of a shame that none of the obviously Christian characters were likable, but that's not quite true. Mary is a likable character all along, even if she becomes more likable and relatable after she begins questioning her beliefs. Her basic personality never fundamentally changes. She's always a good girl, even if she's hanging out with the wrong crowd, so to speak. But even Roland and Cassandra turn out to have a sweet side. (Which maybe helps cement my dismay at... oh, nevermind.) Whatever.
Eventually, Mary gives birth, and there's some narration (she'd narrated the beginning of the movie, but as is often the case, I can't recall if she did any narration in the bulk of the movie, I just remember it at the start and the end). There is something that makes me feel... refreshed in my own Christianity, as well as Mary's. Well, not just that, but in general, my appreciation of the human race. I often have no choice but to question if God really exists, and if so, why'd he make everything suck so much. But life really is pretty amazing, so I guess he's great after all. And yet much of life's greatness would not exist without Satan's interference early on. (This is, by the way, strictly me philosophizing, I've totally gone off the movie's track at this point, okay?) So I guess I have a love/hate relationship with God and a hate/love relationship with the other dude. I can't help feeling most of what sucks about life is Satan's fault, so I can't blame God; but at the same time, a lot of what I consider amazing about life is also Satan's doing, so I can't totally credit God. Which in a way, kind of makes me appreciate the amazingness of life all the more. I almost feel like everything is as it should be. Suckiness and all. The whole of humanity is better off for the dichotomy, the complexity of it all, the good and the bad, and the whole question of what one even chooses to see as good or bad. And this train of thought makes me appreciate the movie more. Even if it's basically my own train.... Though I do think the movie has some decent things to say about tolerance.
Edit: much of what I said in the above paragraph about my own feelings about religion and whatnot were how I felt at the time I watched the movie, but not necessarily how I feel now, years later.