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Case Number 01258

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Saving Silverman

Sony // 2001 // 96 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // July 12th, 2001

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All Rise...

The Charge

2 best friends + 1 girlfriend = WAR!

Opening Statement

Someone out there likes Jason Biggs. How else can you explain him working as much as he does? As a goofy loser in the hit American Pie, Biggs was funny and sweet. In everything else, he's been cloyingly annoying. How apt, as this describes the comedy of Saving Silverman. Directed by Big Daddy's Dennis Dugan and starring Jack Black (High Fidelity), Steve Zahn (Happy, Texas), Amanda Peet (The Whole Nine Yards), and Neil Diamond (Mr. Sweet Caroline), Saving Silverman comes to DVD care of Columbia TriStar Entertainment.

Facts of the Case

Darren (Biggs), J.D. (Black), and Wayne (Zahn) have been best of friends ever since grade school. They do everything together, including singing in a Neil Diamond cover band called Diamonds in the Rough. They have fun together, they do beer bongs together, they get shot down by women together…that is, until Darren meets what he thinks is the love of his life, Judith (Peet). Darren and Judith start to see much of each other, to the dismay of Darren's buds. Wayne and J.D. think that Judith is a cold-hearted witch, out only to control Darren and make him her domestic slave. Unfortunately, they find out they're right.

Darren starts to see less and less of his friends, and after a disastrous encounter with Judith and Darren's obnoxious friends, Judith prohibits Darren from ever seeing them again. This doesn't sit well with J.D. or Wayne, both of them knowing that they must now save Darren before he his totally caught in Judith's web. The two dim bulbs decide to kidnap Judith so that Darren can re-establish a relationship with his old high school crush, Sandy (Amanda Detmer). The only trouble is that Sandy is taking her vows in a week to become a nun.

J.D. and Wayne are now in a wacky race against time to keep Darren from making the biggest mistake of his life. With a little help from Neil Diamond, Darren's love life may not end up as "love on the rocks."

The Evidence

Saving Silverman has a lot in common with The Fugitive. In The Fugitive, Harrison Ford must outrun a train wreck. In Saving Silverman the movie IS the train wreck.

Did I laugh at all during Saving Silverman? Well, I have to admit that I did chuckle a few times. Movies like this feel that the funniest thing they can do is incorporate a non-acting celebrity into the mix. For Saving Silverman we get singer/songwriter Neil Diamond. There was something sporadically funny about seeing Diamond in such an out and out stupid film. One wonders if he or his manager read the script before he (and his songs) decided to sign on. Character actor R. Lee Ermey is like a solid rock in a stormy sea; always dependable, he provides the biggest laugh (meaning a small giggle) in the very last scene. Ermey has been featured in everything from heavy drama (Dead Man Walking) to horror comedy (The Frighteners). Sadly, Ermey is the only thing worth saving in Saving Silverman.

Saving Silverman is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen (as well as a full frame version on side B). Saving Silverman's transfer looks very good, which is not surprising considering this is a very new title. Colors and flesh tones were bright and natural, blacks dark and solid. A small amount of edge enhancement was spotted, though nothing major. A very good presentation from Columbia TriStar.

Audio is presented in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Surround 2.0. The Dolby 5.1 track is semi-aggressive, utilizing rear speakers occasionally (mostly for Neil Diamond tunes). Dialogue was clean and clear with no distortion. Music and effects were also mixed well. Optional English and French subtitles are also available.

Saving Silverman includes enough supplemental material to warrant this almost a "special edition." First up is a commentary track by director Dennis Dugan. Dugan starts off by saying that Saving Silverman is a "funny movie," so lack of pride will not be present on the track. Actually, Dugan is entertaining to listen to, though got a bit creepy when he kept referring to a bunch of the girls in the film as "really cute." Aside of that, it's a nice companion piece for fans of the film (and they would be…?).

Also included is a short reel of outtakes from the movie. Most of them aren't great, but it's a nice inclusion to the package. Finally there are the typical productions notes, filmographies, and theatrical trailers for Saving Silverman (anamorphic), Loser (anamorphic), Big Daddy (full frame), The Cable Guy (full frame), and Whipped (full frame).

The Rebuttal Witnesses

What were the writers thinking when they wrote the characters in Saving Silverman? I've never seen a comedy so unintentionally detached from reality. The main problem comes with Judith. There is not one moment in the movie where we have any reason to believe that Darren would want to spend the rest of his life with her. I know that love can be blind, but is it also deaf and dumb? I doubt it. Amanda Peet turns Judith into such an evil villain that there's no motivation for any of her actions. Why would she want Darren as her "slave"? No real excuse is given, except to move the plot along. Biggs plays Darren as such a sappy dope that he deserves to end up with a person like Judith.

Then there are the characters of J.D. and Wayne. Jack Black has proven that he's a funny guy. In High Fidelity he stole the show from John Cusack and company, reveling in his funny, know-it-all character Barry. Here Black is given no good material to work with. Steve Zahn is in the same boat. If only these two gifted comedians were given something funny to do…well, maybe Saving Silverman wouldn't have ended up such an abysmal mess. Wayne and J.D. are so ineptly written that I had no idea why they were partaking in half of the things the script had them doing. The screenplay by Greg DePaul and Hank Nelken doesn't have the foundation for a good comedy premise, much less good writing. Their idea of a funny joke is having three grown men wearing shaggy Neil Diamond wigs. Har-har. It makes me long for the days of Earnest Scared Stupid. Many of the scenes seem to shift from one comedic situation to another without much continuity. Let's watch J.D. get his nuts zapped by an electric animal prod! Oh look, Wayne just fell out a second story window and landed next to J.D. in the exact same position! If either of these situations sounds remotely funny to you, then by all means see Saving Silverman. I wasn't so amused.

Closing Statement

Comedy is subjective. Maybe Saving Silverman will make you laugh. Maybe not. It certainly didn't tickle my funny bone, but if you find the image of a man being attacked by raccoons the end all, be all of comedy, then Saving Silverman may just be your type of movie. The audio and video portions are good, and the extra features are decent.

The Verdict

Columbia is acquitted for doing a nice job with the disc. The makers of Saving Silverman are sentenced to community service for such an immature, unfunny script.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 95
Audio: 89
Extras: 82
Acting: 76
Story: 65
Judgment: 60

Perp Profile

Studio: Sony
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
• English
• French
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Comedy

Distinguishing Marks

• Director's Commentary
• Outtakes Reel
• Theatrical Trailers
• Filmographies
• Production Notes


• IMDb

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