The subtitle to the recently released movie, To Save A Life, says, “Some people are just dying to be heard.” For student Roger Dawson, killing himself was a way to be heard. To Save A Life, produced by New Song Community Church in Oceanside, Calif., focuses on the life of senior Jake Taylor—a star basketball player and blonde-haired heart throb.
Taylor’s life is forever changed after his former childhood friend, Roger Dawson, shoots himself at school. Taylor struggles with regret, wondering if he could have prevented his friend’s death, even though the two hadn’t talked for a couple years.
To Save a Life addresses very real-to-life issues including divorce, teen suicide, pregnancy, abortion, cutting, acceptance, friendships, stereotypes, drinking and drugs. Written by a youth pastor, Jim Britts of New Song Community Church, the movie was created with an obvious Christian theistic worldview. The acting is fairly good (and done by professionals), the soundtrack has some great songs (including both secular and Christian artists), and the filming is well done.
Focus on the Family’s "Plugged In Online" quotes Britt as saying,
“We never really set out to make a Christian film,” Britt said. “We said we wanted to make a film for teenagers that would never set foot in a church but would go to the movies—something that would reach them. … We wanted to make a movie that really mattered, and that empowered students to be able to reach out to their friends.” Dawson’s death helps Taylor realize that there are other students who are hurting and overlooked. By reaching out, he and several students from a local church youth group are able to help students feel accepted and valued.
Overall, To Save a Life has a good message: to look out for and love other people. Sadly the movie doesn’t give much weight to Christ and the gospel message as the source of salvation beyond acceptance inside and outside of church.
Jesus is rarely mentioned (The youth pastor does end his prayer “in Jesus name” at Dawson’s funeral, a cross is shown on the stage at youth group, and we see Taylor get baptized in the ocean—an act mostly Christians would understand).
Throughout the movie, Taylor is faced with several tough choices. One scene shows him praying to God, “Just give me the strength to do what’s right,” after he’s learned his girlfriend is pregnant.
The movie gives the realistic view that problems don’t go away after coming to faith in Christ/God. In fact, the movie ends with some of the issues in Taylor’s life unresolved (his parents are separating and Jake is leaving his girlfriend and to go to college). The movie’s message is that, despite all that happens, we aren’t really all alone: people care, God cares.
Hopefully to Save a Life will inspire though-provoking discussions among both youth and adults, and challenge us who live in a very individualistic society to look beyond ourselves and care about others and maybe even save a life.