To Save a Life

Last updated
To Save a Life
To Save a Life.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBrian Baugh
Written byJim Britts
Produced byJim Britts
Starring Randy Wayne
Deja Kreutzberg
Joshua Wiegel
CinematographyC. Clifford Jones
Edited byDan O'Brien
Music by Timothy Michael Wynn
New Song Pictures
Outreach Films
Accelerated Entertainment
Distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Films
Release dates
  • November 5, 2009 (2009-11-05)(Outreach Film Festival)
  • January 22, 2010 (2010-01-22)(United States)
Running time
120 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$500,000 [1]
Box office$3.7 million [2]

To Save a Life is a 2009 American Christian drama film directed by Brian Baugh and starring Randy Wayne, Deja Kreutzberg, Robert Bailey Jr., Steven Crowder and Sean Michael Afable. The film was released theatrically in the United States on January 22, 2010, and was written by Jim Britts. 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 earned nearly double 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.


Jake Taylor, a high school student living in San Diego, California, attends the funeral of his ex-best friend Roger Dawson. One day while the two were kids, Roger pushed Jake out of the way of a car, saving him but crippling himself forever. During their freshmen year of high school, a freshman cheerleader named Amy Briggs invites Jake, now part of the school's basketball team, to a party that Roger was not invited to. Soon enough, Jake joins a new popular group of friends, begins dating Amy, and becomes the star of the basketball team. Jake grew further away from Roger, who became more of a loner due to his condition. Three years later in their senior year, Roger enters the school with a gun and began to shoot. Despite Jake's attempt to stop him, Roger shoots himself and dies from his injuries, 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 Vaughn, a youth pastor, who had spoken at Roger's funeral. Jake goes to a party that is broken up by the police and is the last to sneak out of the house. Since Amy borrowed his truck, 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.

Jake continues to struggle in dealing with Roger's death, frequently attending church and drawing concern from Amy because of his behavior. He discovers Roger's social networking page and sees that he openly discussed his hopelessness. Amy joins Jake at church the following Sunday, but leaves during the service, feeling judged. Jake confronts the group about their shallow faith and failure to be inclusive and inviting, and a girl named Andrea suggests that they all have lunch together at school as a solution.

For the next few weeks, they all meet at lunch every day. Slowly, Jake becomes shunned by all of his old friends, including Amy. Jake invites Jonny, a boy who had been mocked by a fake invitation to a party, to join them, which he accepts. Jake starts to emerge from the darkness he felt following Roger's death as he, Jonny, and Andrea become friends.

After some time, Jonny asks Jake for advice on asking Andrea on a date. The date ends when Jonny accidentally drops his ice cream in her lap, causing her to draw back. Meanwhile, Jake discovers that Amy is pregnant with his baby and 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; Jake ultimately brushes aside his concerns, effectively humiliating him in front of his peers.

When Danny, the pastor's son, overhears Jake and Chris talking about Amy's pregnancy, he posts drawings all over the school announcing the news. 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 and talks to Amy, who has decided to keep the baby. Having been shunned by all her old friends at school, she begins spending time with Andrea and the other girls from the church.

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. After a search of his locker, they ask Jonny for his phone, which he doesn't have because Danny took it. 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, preventing Jonny from a drug overdose. Danny is then caught by the police as 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. 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 resume the trip to Louisville.



The film 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. [3] Writer and producer Jim Britts was inspired to make the movie after observing a simple problem: many teenagers are hurting. [4] 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." [5]

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. [4] 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. [6] The film has been marketed in a grassroots fashion, a tactic that proved successful for low-budget Christian films like Fireproof . [7]

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. [8]


To Save A Life Official Movie Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedJanuary 20, 2010
Genre Christian
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. [9] The film's original score was composed by Timothy Michael Wynn and produced by Christopher Lennertz.

Track listing
  1. "Boom" (Da Enforcerz)
  2. "500,000 Boomin’ Watts" (Flynn Adam)
  3. "Bounce" (J-Rus)
  4. "Dare you to move" (Switchfoot)
  5. "Fall Back" (Bobby Taylor)
  6. "Outsider" (The Daylights)
  7. "Golden Thread" (Joy Williams)
  8. "Sunset Cliffs" (Paul Wright)
  9. "Go Together" (Jillian Edwards)
  10. "Rollercoaster" (Kendall Payne)
  11. "Hero (Red Pill Mix)" (Superchick)
  12. "Future Plans" (Timothy Michael Wynn)


Critical reception

To Save a Life received mixed to generally negative reception from film critics. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 39% rating based on 23 reviews, with an average rating of 4.90/10. [10] Metacritic currently has its score listed as 19%. [11]

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..." [12] 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.'" [13] 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." [14]

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." [15] 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." [16] 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." [17] Hannah Goodwyn of 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." [18] 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..." [19]

Box office

To Save a Life had a strong debut in its first weekend, [20] amassing a total of $1,581,517, despite playing in only 441 theaters. [21] 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. [22] 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. [23]

Home media

To Save a Life was released on DVD and Blu-ray on August 3, 2010. The DVD features an in-depth behind-the-scenes of the making of the film, deleted scenes, a gag reel, and music videos.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Danny Kaye</span> American actor, singer, dancer, and comedian (1911–1987)

Danny Kaye was an American actor, comedian, singer and dancer. His performances featured physical comedy, idiosyncratic pantomimes, and rapid-fire novelty songs.

<i>Hans Christian Andersen</i> (film) 1952 film by Charles Vidor

Hans Christian Andersen is a 1952 Hollywood musical film directed by Charles Vidor and produced by Samuel Goldwyn. The screenplay by Moss Hart and an uncredited Ben Hecht is based on a story by Myles Connolly.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jonny Lee Miller</span> British actor (born 1972)

Jonathan Lee Miller is a British film, television and theatre actor. He achieved early success for his portrayal of Simon "Sick Boy" Williamson in the dark comedy-drama film Trainspotting (1996) and as Dade Murphy in Hackers (1995) before earning further critical recognition for his performances in Afterglow (1997), Mansfield Park (1999), The Flying Scotsman (2006), Endgame (2009) and T2 Trainspotting (2017); for The Flying Scotsman he received a London Film Critics' Circle nomination for Actor of the Year. He was also part of the principal cast in the films Melinda and Melinda (2004), Dark Shadows (2012) and Byzantium (2013). He has appeared in several theatrical productions, most notably After Miss Julie and Frankenstein, the latter of which earned him an Olivier Award for Best Actor.

<i>Sixteen Candles</i> 1984 film by John Hughes

Sixteen Candles is a 1984 American coming-of-age comedy film starring Molly Ringwald, Michael Schoeffling, and Anthony Michael Hall. Written and directed by John Hughes in his directorial debut, it was the first in a string of films Hughes would direct centering on teenage life. The film was a box office success, earning $23.6 million against a $6.5 million budget, and launched Ringwald to fame.

<i>Saved!</i> 2004 American satirical black comedy film

Saved! is a 2004 American independent satirical black comedy film directed by Brian Dannelly, and starring Jena Malone, Mandy Moore, Macaulay Culkin, Patrick Fugit, Eva Amurri, Martin Donovan, and Mary-Louise Parker. Its plot follows a teenage girl (Malone) at a Christian high school who has sex with her boyfriend in an attempt to "cure" him of his homosexuality; she becomes pregnant as a result and is ostracized by her schoolmates. Filmed in, British Columbia, the film had its theatrical release on May 28, 2004. Saved! was considered a sleeper hit, grossing over $9 million domestically following a platform release through Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The film received mixed reviews from critics, with many remarking on its blend of religious satire with elements of the contemporary teen film.

<i>Not Another Teen Movie</i> 2001 film by Joel Gallen

Not Another Teen Movie is a 2001 American teen parody film directed by Joel Gallen and written by Mike Bender, Adam Jay Epstein, Andrew Jacobson, Phil Beauman, and Buddy Johnson. It features an ensemble cast including Chyler Leigh, Chris Evans, Jaime Pressly, Eric Christian Olsen, Eric Jungmann, Mia Kirshner, Deon Richmond, Cody McMains, Sam Huntington, Samm Levine, Cerina Vincent, Ron Lester, Randy Quaid, Lacey Chabert, Riley Smith and Samaire Armstrong.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">David O. Russell</span> American filmmaker (b. 1958)

David Owen Russell is an American filmmaker. His early directing career includes the comedy films Spanking the Monkey (1994), Flirting with Disaster (1996), Three Kings (1999), and I Heart Huckabees (2004). He gained critical success with the biographical sports drama The Fighter (2010), the romantic comedy-drama Silver Linings Playbook (2012), and the dark comedy crime film American Hustle (2013). The three films were commercially successful and acclaimed by critics, having earned Russell three Academy Award nominations for Best Director, as well as a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination for Silver Linings Playbook and a Best Original Screenplay nomination for American Hustle. Russell received his seventh Golden Globe nomination for the semi-biographical comedy-drama Joy (2015).

<i>Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings</i> 1994 American film

Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings is the 1994 direct-to-video sequel to the 1988 horror film Pumpkinhead. In this film, thrill-seeking teens resurrect a demon and come to regret it. The movie is very loosely connected to others in the series. The PC video game Bloodwings: Pumpkinhead's Revenge was released shortly after the film.

<i>Zombie Prom</i>

Zombie Prom is an Off-Broadway musical with music by Dana P. Rowe and a book and lyrics by John Dempsey, later adapted into a short film. It was first produced at the Red Barn Theatre, Key West, Florida in 1993. It opened off-Broadway in New York City at the Variety Arts Theatre in 1996. It also opened November 2009 in London with a UK Premiere at the off-West End Landor Theatre.

<i>The Secret Life of Walter Mitty</i> (1947 film) 1947 American comedy film

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a 1947 Technicolor comedy film, loosely based on the 1939 short story of the same name by James Thurber. The film stars Danny Kaye as a young daydreaming proofreader for a magazine publishing firm and Virginia Mayo as the girl of his dreams. The film was adapted for the screen by Ken Englund, Everett Freeman, and Philip Rapp (uncredited), and directed by Norman Z. McLeod.

<i>P.U.N.K.S.</i> 1999 film by Sean McNamara

P.U.N.K.S. is a 1999 film about a group of bullied teens who find a suit created by a scientist. The suit provides whoever wears it superhuman strength, as well as leaving the wearer open to having their body controlled by someone else via wireless computer signals. After learning that Drew's father, who has a serious heart condition, is required to present the prototype to investors, and after soon discovering that the suit would cause Drew's father to die of massive heart failure, the group goes on a mission to save his father and shut down the company responsible for building the incomplete and dangerous device.

<i>Killer Elite</i> (film) 2011 film by Gary McKendry

Killer Elite is a 2011 action thriller film starring Jason Statham, Clive Owen and Robert De Niro. The film is based on the 1991 novel The Feather Men by Sir Ranulph Fiennes and is directed by Gary McKendry.

<i>The Master</i> (2012 film) 2012 film by Paul Thomas Anderson

The Master is a 2012 American psychological drama film written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and starring Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams. It tells the story of Freddie Quell (Phoenix), a World War II Navy veteran struggling to adjust to a post-war society, who meets Lancaster Dodd (Hoffman), the leader of a religious movement known as the Cause. Dodd sees something in Quell and accepts him into the movement. Freddie takes a liking to the Cause and begins traveling with Dodd's family to spread his teachings.

<i>Frenemies</i> (film) 2012 television film directed by Daisy von Scherler Mayer

Frenemies is a 2012 teen comedy-drama anthology television film based on the novel of the same name by Alexa Young. It features an ensemble cast starring Bella Thorne, Zendaya, Stefanie Scott, Nick Robinson, Mary Mouser and features Connor Price, Jascha Washington and Dylan Everett. The film follows three pairs of teenage friends that go from friends to enemies and back again. The film was directed by Daisy Mayer and written by Dava Savel, Wendy Weiner, and Jim Krieg. The Disney Channel Original Movie premiered on January 13, 2012, in the United States and Canada.

<i>Chasing Mavericks</i> 2012 film by Curtis Hanson & Michael Apted

Chasing Mavericks is a 2012 American biographical drama film about the life of American surfer Jay Moriarity. It was directed by Curtis Hanson and Michael Apted, and stars Gerard Butler, Elisabeth Shue, Abigail Spencer, and Leven Rambin.

<i>Free Birds</i> 2013 computer-animated film by Jimmy Hayward

Free Birds is a 2013 American computer-animated science fiction comedy film. The film follows two turkeys going back in time to the first Thanksgiving to get turkeys off the menu. It was produced by Reel FX Creative Studios as its first theatrical fully animated feature film, and Relativity Media (the company's fourth animated film after Monster House, The Tale of Despereaux, and 9. Jimmy Hayward directed the film which he co-wrote with the film's producer Scott Mosier. The film stars the voices of Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, and Amy Poehler with supporting roles done by George Takei, Colm Meaney, Keith David, and Dan Fogler.

<i>Phantom Thread</i> 2017 film by Paul Thomas Anderson

Phantom Thread is a 2017 American historical drama film written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, and starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps and Lesley Manville. Set in 1950s London, it stars Day-Lewis as an haute couture dressmaker who takes a young waitress, played by Krieps, as his muse. It marked Day-Lewis's final film role to date. The film is the first Anderson film shot outside the United States, with principal photography beginning in January 2017 in Lythe, England. It is Anderson's second collaboration with Day-Lewis, following There Will Be Blood (2007), and his fourth with composer Jonny Greenwood.

Danny Ramirez is an American actor. He is best known for his roles as Wes in The Gifted, Mario Martinez in On My Block, Joaquin Torres in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Lt. Mickey "Fanboy" Garcia in Top Gun: Maverick (2022).

<i>Roxy</i> (film) 2018 Canadian film

#Roxy is a 2018 Canadian teen romantic comedy film directed by Michael Kennedy and starring Jake Short, Sarah Fisher, Booboo Stewart, Pippa Mackie, Jake Smith, Carter Thicke, and Danny Trejo. Like the 1987 film Roxanne, #Roxy is also a modern retelling of Edmond Rostand's 1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac. The film premiered exclusively in Landmark Cinemas at Edmonton City Centre in Edmonton, Canada, on October 29, 2018, and was released on digital platforms and through local cable providers on November 6, 2018, by Upstream Flix in association with Spesch.

<i>Ambulance</i> (2022 film) 2022 American film by Michael Bay

Ambulance is a 2022 American heist action thriller film directed and co-produced by Michael Bay and written by Chris Fedak. A co-production between New Republic Pictures, Project X Entertainment and Bay Films, it is based on the 2005 Danish film of the same name by Laurits Munch-Petersen and Lars Andreas Pedersen. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Eiza González and follows two adoptive siblings turned bank robbers who hijack an ambulance and take two first responders hostage.


  1. Fritz, Ben (January 24, 2010). "First look: 'Extraordinary Measures' has less than ordinary start, 'Avatar' not slowing". Los Angeles Times . Retrieved April 21, 2012.
  2. "To Save a Life (2010) - Box Office Mojo".
  3. Kilday, Gregg (October 27, 2009). "Goldwyn Films acquires 'To Save a Life'". The Hollywood Reporter . Archived from the original on December 30, 2009. Retrieved January 3, 2010.
  4. 1 2 Yonke, David (January 16, 2010). "Christian movie offers hope for hurting teens". The Blade . Retrieved January 22, 2010.
  5. Patrick, Nikki (January 9, 2010). "'To Save a Life'". The Morning Sun. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved January 22, 2010.
  6. Hinton, Carla (January 16, 2010). "Film's 'heart' attracts actor Randy Wayne from Oklahoma". The Oklahoman . Retrieved January 22, 2010.
  7. Buss, Dale (January 21, 2009). "What Christians Watch". The Wall Street Journal . Retrieved January 22, 2010.
  8. Canete, Kimi (January 29, 2010). "Hollywood movie 'To Save a Life' filmed in North County". San Diego Entertainer Magazine. Retrieved January 28, 2010.
  9. "Official Soundtrack For The Film 'To Save Live' Availabe (sic) As A Digital Download". BREATHEcast. January 27, 2010. Retrieved January 29, 2010.
  10. "To Save a Life (2010)". Rotten Tomatoes . Retrieved August 1, 2010.
  11. "To Save a Life: Samuel Goldwyn Films". Metacritic . Retrieved January 26, 2010.
  12. Baumgarten, Marjorie (January 22, 2010). "To Save a Life". Austin Chronicle . Retrieved January 23, 2010.
  13. Anderson, Melissa (January 19, 2010). "To Save a Life Wants To Rescue Kids from the Satanic Messages of Gossip Girl". The Village Voice . Retrieved January 21, 2010.
  14. Webster, Andy (January 22, 2010). "An Athlete in Search of Redemption". The New York Times . Retrieved January 26, 2010.
  15. Goldstein, Gary (January 22, 2010). "Reviews: Parts are better than the whole of 'Drool'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
  16. Bennett, Dan (January 20, 2010). "MOVIE REVIEW: 'Save A Life' stresses message through strong storytelling". North County Times . Archived from the original on January 27, 2010. Retrieved January 21, 2010.
  17. Fischbach, Bob (January 22, 2010). "'To Save A Life:' Christian film's messages valuable". Omaha World-Herald . Archived from the original on September 7, 2012. Retrieved January 22, 2010.
  18. "To Save a Life: Christian Movie Review".
  19. "TO SAVE A LIFE | Movieguide | Movie Reviews for Christians". August 4, 2012.
  20. Knegt, Peter (January 24, 2010). "Box Office: Christian "Life" Debuts Strong; "Heart" Expands Well". indieWire . Retrieved January 24, 2010.
  21. "Weekend Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo . January 22–24, 2010. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
  22. Finke, Nikki (January 25, 2010). "'To Save A Life' Slipped Through Cracks". Deadline Hollywood Daily . Retrieved January 26, 2010.
  23. "To Save a Life". Box Office Mojo . Retrieved April 10, 2010.