Running Time: 2 hrs.
Release Date: January 22nd, 2010
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Distributors: New Song Pictures
Director: Brian Baugh
JJ Rating: A-
A friend commits suicide and Jake Taylor (Randy Wayne) reacts strongly to it. He doesn’t know how he should feel because he was no longer speaking to that friend. He felt guilty for not speaking to him so that he could see there was a problem. He felt responsible for the death. So Jake decides that he should change the way he’s acting and help others so that never happens to anyone else. It so happens the story is a bit churchy. To Save a Life.
I was gearing towards an A or an A+ but that was ONLY if this film had The Fray’s “How to Save a Life” in it. It did not. It’s most likely because it probably cost an arm and a leg to put it in the film. My Last.fm account shows that that is my favorite song. It has 527 plays. So I had to settle on an A-. For anyone that sees it now because they had no idea that it even existed (by the way had a great debut for the amount of theaters it was released in) they might find it to be incredibly churchy. I found out about this film on Thursday. I checked out the website and then watched the trailer and I was moved to see it because of the story. At the time I saw how it had churchy like acting. Then I saw what theaters it was showing in and I was really sure then. I could have really read up on it and found out, but I’m lazy in that regard and just like the trailer to speak to me without me having to research too much into it.
The churchy-ness of it isn’t over powering. If it was I wouldn’t have liked To Save a Life. I thought that the message that it was presenting was very good. I do know of anyone who has committed suicide. I can imagine how Jake felt guilty. I would, most likely, feel guilty. How could you not? In a way this type of topic is close to home. The church aspect is very minimal. The interesting part about this is that I focused on the message that the use of the church represented and it’s very similar to just having a group of people that are up-building instead of destructive. So it was a film that happens to have church talk in it, not a film that was built upon a church idea. I just don’t think that that should be a reason someone shouldn’t see it.
When Jake found the suicide note instead of having him read it the friend reads it as he is walking through the school’s halls. That scene was very powerful. I did not expect to see something like that. It was so ingenious to show it that way. It made the words stabbing, heartbreaking and memorable. It was very well done all around. There are a lot of surprises in this film that I didn’t expect to see and the emotional aspect of it all was pretty good.
I had a bit of unease with some of the acting. It could have been better but I can say that the worst actor in this film did not make me feel as uncomfortable as Channing Tatum does in several of his films. But I give him the benefit of the doubt, often. I continue to see films he is in hopes that he’ll get better, which means that I’ll be seeing Dear John with that same hope. Oddly it seems as if the acting got way better as the film went on or I just got use to their way of acting by the end.
Suicide is an important topic in two of the films I watched this weekend. To Save a Life, however, deals with it the entire time. It shows that in high school people want a group to belong to. A group of friends that they can sit with at lunch and have a good time without feeling as if they are being mocked. This might be apparent to many people, but it’s a reoccurring thing that happens in many high schools. There are people that don’t have the friends and they feel like this movie shows and if anything people watching this might get some sort of perspective on how someone else feels.
I understand that I’ll be alone with thinking really highly of To Save a Life. For some reason it just attracted me with the trailer and mesmerized me with the thoughts that bounce around in this film. I cannot fully explain why it’s so good to me, but I really like movies that have a message that they share without gagging people with it. It may not have had “How to Save a Life” by the Fray playing in the background but I was playing that song in my head as the film went on. No one wants to be a in a position where they say, “If only I said something” because that What if…is a dangerous, contagiously harmful thought. See it if you know of someone that committed suicide and see if you can watch it without feeling something. If you never had to lose someone in such a manner, see it and make sure you never have to. With a good heart and a good message To Save a Life might move people to try and do just that; to be a better human towards all.