To Save a Life
|To Save a Life|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Brian Baugh|
|Produced by||Jim Britts|
|Written by||Jim Britts|
Sean Michael Afable
|Music by||Christopher Lennertz
Timothy Michael Wynn
|Cinematography||C. Clifford Jones|
|Edited by||Dan O'Brien|
New Song Pictures
|Distributed by||Samuel Goldwyn Films|
To Save a Life is a 2009 Christian drama film directed by Brian Baugh. The film was released theatrically in the United States on January 22, 2010, and was written by Jim Britts. It stars Randy Wayne, Deja Kreutzberg, Robert Bailey Jr., Steven Crowder and Sean Michael Afable. The United States rights were acquired by Samuel Goldwyn Films from New Song Pictures.
To Save a Life was produced on a budget of about $1 million, but nearly doubled that in its opening weekend. The film was released to 441 theaters on January 22, 2010, and has grossed $3,777,210 domestically. It was received with mixed to generally negative reviews from film critics.
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The story opens with Jake Taylor (Randy Wayne) a high school student in the suburbs of San Diego attending the funeral of his ex-best friend Roger (Robert Bailey Jr.). After Roger's mom comes and asks Jake if Roger had said anything to him, she walks away, and Jake remembers that this all started back when they were young boys and best friends. Roger pushed Jake out of the way of a car, saving him but crippling himself forever. During their freshmen year of high school, after Jake had made the winning basket in a basketball game, a freshman cheerleader named Amy invited him to a party that Roger was not let into. In the years later Jake joined a new popular group of friends, Amy became his girlfriend, and he became star of the basketball team. Jake grew further away from Roger, who became more of a loner due to his condition which he was bullied for. Three years later as a high school senior, Roger came in with a gun and began to shoot. Jake, knowing what Roger was going to do, tries to stop him, but Roger tells him that it was too late. Jake watches in horror as Roger shoots himself. Roger dies from his injuries, killing 5 classmates in the process, prompting Jake to wonder if he could have saved him by being a better friend.
After the final basketball game of his senior year, Jake meets Chris, a youth pastor, who had spoken at Roger's funeral. Jake goes to a party that is broken up by the police and, being slow to orient himself, is the last to sneak out of the house. Amy had taken his truck, and he was without a ride home. With no other options left, Jake decides to call the number on the business card Chris gave him. On the ride home, Chris reveals that Roger had come to church the Sunday before he killed himself. Chris expresses guilt that no one had really welcomed him there.
Jake continues to struggle in dealing with Roger's death, attending church several times and drawing concern from Amy because of his withdrawn behavior. He discovers Roger's social networking page and sees that Roger had openly discussed his hopelessness. Amy joins Jake at church the following Sunday, but leaves during the service, feeling judged. Jake confronts the group angrily about their shallow faith and failure to be inclusive and inviting. Chris asks for a solution, and a girl named Andrea suggests that they all have lunch together at school.
For the next few weeks they all meet at lunch everyday. Slowly, Jake becomes shunned by all of his old friends, including Amy. Jake invites Jonny (Sean Michael Afable), a boy who had been mocked by a fake invitation to a party, to join them, which he eventually does. Jonny starts to emerge from the darkness he felt following Roger's death as he, Jake, and Andrea become friends.
After some time, Jonny asks Jake for advice on asking Andrea on a date. They go out for ice cream and Andrea sees scars on Jonny's wrist from cutting. She reveals that she used to be a cutter as well, touching his wrist. Jonny tries to kiss her, dropping his ice cream in her lap and causing her to draw back. Meanwhile, Jake finds out that Amy is pregnant with his baby and that she doesn't want to keep the child. He then discovers that his parents are about to divorce after his father had an affair. The next day at school, Jonny wants help from Jake on what to do with Andrea after he blew his chance. Jake takes his anger out on Jonny by brushing aside his concerns, effectively humiliating him in front of his peers.
Jake and Andrea attempt to patch things up with Jonny, but he ignores their calls and resumes cutting his wrists. Danny, the pastor's son, overhears Jake and Chris talking about Amy's pregnancy and posts drawings all over the school announcing the secret to the school. In the weeks that follow, Jake stops hanging out with his old friends for good and spends more time with his new friends. He gives up his dream about going to college, much to his father's disappointment, and talks to Amy, who has decided to keep their baby. Jake promises her that he will help her raise their child. Amy, having been shunned by all her old friends at school, begins spending time with Andrea and the other girls from the church. Jake continues to call Jonny, but he refuses to pick up his phone.
At the climax of the movie, Jonny bumps into Danny, who takes the cell phone Jonny drops. Minutes later, students are evacuated from the school due to a bomb threat. Danny steps forward and tells the police he thinks it was Jonny. The police search Jonny's locker and find horrific pictures of bombs exploding the school. They ask Jonny for his phone, but he doesn't have it, because Danny still does. The police handcuff Jonny and walk him through the crowd of the entire student body. Jake realizes that Jonny didn't make the threats when he calls Jonny's phone and sees Danny answer it. With Amy distracting the teachers that guard the exit, Jake runs past them to the road and steps in front of the police car. Jonny had opened a bottle of prescription pills preparing to overdose on them, but Jake successfully stops the vehicle just before Jonny ends up like Roger.
Danny is then caught by the police, but cannot bring himself to call his father, calling Chris instead. Chris leaves Danny alone, but Jake offers to stay with him. The pastor takes a leave of absence to spend time with Danny and Chris becomes the new pastor in his place.
Jake's life soon begins to look up. His daughter is placed in open adoption, and Amy gets back together with him. The daughter is adopted by a couple unable to have children and, instead of taking the child and leaving, they want to keep Amy and Jake in the family. His friends and family gather to see him off to Louisville for college, and his dad comes along with him so they can talk. Jonny gives Jake a note to read on the way there stating that he actually did feel like Roger and had considered taking his life, as well. He stated that if Jake had not invited him for lunch that day, he did not know where he would be at the moment. At that point Jake and his father stop the trip to Louisville and head home.
- Randy Wayne as Jacob "Jake" Taylor
- Deja Kreutzberg as Amanda "Amy" Briggs
- Joshua Weigel as Christopher "Chris" Vaughn
- Sean Michael Afable as Jonathan "Jonny" Garcia
- Robert Bailey Jr. as Roger Dawson
- Steven Crowder as Douglas "Doug" Moore
- D. David Morin as Marcus "Mark" Rivers
- Kim Hidalgo as Andrea Stevens
- Arjay Smith as Matt McQueen
- Bubba Lewis as Daniel "Danny" Rivers
The movie is a partnership among three faith-based companies: Samuel Goldwyn Films (which released Fireproof, Facing the Giants, and Amazing Grace), Outreach Films, and New Song Pictures. Writer and producer Jim Britts was inspired to make the movie after observing a simple problem: many teenagers are hurting. Britts, a Christian youth pastor in Southern California, and his wife, a schoolteacher, began taking the many stories of teens' struggles and molding them into a film. "Every day my wife and I talk to teens who are in some kind of pain," Britts said. "I wanted to make a film that would bring hope to hurting and lonely students."
Director Brian Baugh was surprised at the grittiness of the script, in stark contrast to many other Christian films. The movie includes scenes of teen drinking, marijuana smoking, cutting (inflicting self-injury), moderate profanity, and implications of sex. Baugh none the less decided to keep these elements in to make the film a more realistic depiction of typical teens. Actor Randy Wayne, the star of the film, said he originally rejected the idea of starring because it was being made with a low budget, but he eventually accepted the offer and offered to do it for free. The film has been marketed in a grassroots fashion, a tactic that proved successful for low-budget Christian films like Fireproof.
Over 80% of the cast and crew for To Save a Life consisted of Oceanside and North County locals. Several Oceanside locations, including Oceanside High School, Calvin Christian High School, MiraCosta College, New Song Community Church, Eternal Hills Memorial Park, Harbor, Guajome Park Academy, and Beach are shown in the film.
|To Save A Life Official Movie Soundtrack|
|Soundtrack album by Various|
|Released||January 20, 2010|
|Label||Twenty Ten Music
New Song Pictures
The soundtrack for To Save a Life has been released as a digital download on the official website of the film and iTunes.
- Track listing
- "Boom" (Da Enforcerz)
- "500,000 Boomin’ Watts" (Flynn Adam)
- "Bounce" (J-Rus)
- "Dare you to move" (Switchfoot)
- "Fall Back" (Bobby Taylor)
- "Outsider" (The Daylights)
- "Golden Thread" (Joy Williams)
- "Sunset Cliffs" (Paul Wright)
- "Go Together" (Jillian Edwards)
- "Rollercoaster" (Kendall Payne)
- "Hero (Red Pill Mix)" (Superchick)
- "Future Plans" (Timothy Michael Wynn)
To Save a Life received mixed to generally negative reception from film critics. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 35% rating based on 17 reviews. Metacritic currently has its score listed as 19%. Marjorie Baumgarten of the Austin Chronicle gave the film a negative review, saying, "To Save a Life is a well-meaning but ineptly made message movie..." Melissa Anderson of The Village Voice said, "For all its initial attempts to soften its religiosity... To Save a Life is about as subtle as this closing credit: 'The producers would like to thank: GOD.'" Andy Webster of The New York Times said, "The film would be a mere nuisance if not for its shameless exploitation of school shootings to advance its agenda."
Other reviewers were more supportive of the film. Gary Goldstein of The Los Angeles Times said, "The teen drama 'To Save a Life,' nicely directed by Brian Baugh from a script by Jim Britts, manages to be appealing, poignant and inspiring in ways that are gentle and quite real." Dan Bennett of the North County Times gave the film 3 of out 4 stars, saying, "Not pushy or intent on establishing an absolute doctrine, the film does well by throwing ideas out there, and letting the realistic characters define those." Bob Fischbach of the Omaha World-Herald said, "[To Save a Life's] messages are good ones for kids to hear. The characters' appeal and a sprinkling of humor should help draw a young audience." Hannah Goodwyn of CBN.com stated: "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."  Pluggedin.com states: "The final product is polished, professional and one of the best Christian films I've seen. Is it perfect? Will Oscar coming calling? No. And no. The Christian film industry still has a ways to go before it can tangle with Hollywood's best." Movieguide.org comments: "Every aspect of TO SAVE A LIFE is well made. The editing is flawless, cutting imaginatively back and forth into flashbacks. The dialogue is constantly moving the story forward. This movie addresses some tough topics, including teenage suicide, drinking, sex, and drug use. This realistic background makes the story of repentance and forgiveness much more powerful..."
To Save a Life had a strong debut in its first weekend, amassing a total of $1,581,517, despite playing in only 441 theaters. Theaters in markets such as Burleson, Texas, Oceanside, California, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Evans, Georgia were the film's top grossing markets. The film was #3 on Fandango's most requested tickets going into the weekend. The film fell 53.6% in its second weekend to $733,457, and −63.2% to $269,684 in its third, accumulating $3,777,210 to date.
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