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SAVING SILVERMAN






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Release: 2001, Sony
Starring: Jason Biggs, Steve Zahn, Jack Black, Amanda Peet
Director: Dennis Dugan
MPAA Rating: [R] sexuality, language
Genre: Comedy


Summary
Two idiots (Zahn, Black) must stop their best friend (Biggs) from marrying a woman they believe is pure evil (Peet).

What's Good
Zahn and Black are idiotically funny
Amanda Peet is a sexy, dangerous bombshell

What's Bad
Silverman and his true love are truly boring characters

Commentary
Reviewer: Andrew Manning (02/01)

Confirmed bachelors trying to prevent their buddies from getting hitched to the old ball and chain is a plot that has been done many times in the movies. But in Saving Silverman, comedic actors Steve Zahn and Jack Black push the envelope of stupidity, testing the limits of just how far idiots will go to keep the boys from dissolving their male bonds in the wake of marriage.

That was a compliment, in case it didn't sound like one. Both Zahn and Black absolutely steal the show. As Wayne the incompetent pest exterminator and JD the beer guzzling couch potato, respectively, Zahn and Black bring a lot of low brow humor to the mix. When their best friend Darren Silverman (Jason Biggs) gets into a relationship with the sexy Judith (Amanda Peet), they're happy he's landed such a babe. But as the relationship grows, it becomes clear that Judith is a domineering psycho who has emotionally castrated Darren into her whipping boy. Judith also happens to hate Darren's friends, and demands that he stop hanging out with them. And since the guys are also a Neil Diamond cover band, Judith's ultimatum also has the effect of breaking up the band Yoko-style. Wayne and JD can tolerate Judith no longer, and so devise a plan to save their naive buddy from the woman he now follows blindly.

Wayne and JD call up Sandy (Amanda Detmer), Darren's first true love, and conspire to get the former lovebirds back together. But when putting Darren and Sandy together doesn't kickstart the magic like they had hoped, they decide to take more extreme measures: kidnap Judith, lock her in the basement, and tell Darren that she died, thus forcing him to give up on her completely. What ensues is an all-out war between Judith and her idiotic abductors.

Besides Zahn and Black, Amanda Peet is the other major reason to check out this movie. As Judith, she's beautiful, brilliant, tough, and a freak in the sack--the perfect girl in almost every respect, except for being an evil, manipulative psycho. Judith extends her mindgames to Wayne and JD, prompting JD to cite her "Hannibal Lecter super-intellect." Their utter fear of a seemingly harmless girl is one of Silverman's funniest running jokes, as is her ability to physically kick their asses at the drop of a hat.

Also adding to the movie's comedy arsenal is a crazy high school coach who is so delusional that he doesn't see a problem with snuffing out Judith. And Neil Diamond, Darren's idolized hero, makes an appearance as himself, certifying just how outlandish and surreal this movie is willing to get.

But while Saving Silverman is loaded with funny, twisted characters, there's something painfully lacking in the central story. The romance between Darren and Sandy, which is at the heart of the movie, is flat and boring. Compared to Wayne, JD, Judith, and the insane coach, Darren and Sandy are utter whitebread--so uninteresting that you can't figure out why you're supposed to care about them. For that matter, you begin to question why Wayne and JD are so hooked on Darren--can't they find some other boring schmuck somewhere else? Darren's importance (beyond being lead vocals in the Neil Diamond cover band, I suppose) is never fully realized. His well being and happiness, arguably the point of the movie, doesn't matter if audiences have no emotional investment in him. And since the movie's conclusion focuses on his relationship with the nice but boring Sandy, you end on a rather flat note that disarms the comedic highlights that came before. An irreverent comedy that is outrageous enough to treat kidnapping and murder as casual courses of action deteriorates into a cheesy teenybopper romance. What a waste.

I hope Jason Biggs' complaints in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back weren't mimicking real life too closely--because if he doesn't take better roles than this, he's never going to even get a shot at being something more than "the guy who f*cked the pie."


Rating: 6.5 out of 10 (0=Abysmal, 5=Average, 10=Excellent)
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