MRR Movie Review: Saving Silverman


Movie Review: "Saving Silverman"

--Rating: PG-13
Release Date: February 9, 2001
Directed by: Dennis Dugan
Genre: Comedy
Cast: Jason Biggs, Jack Black, Steve Zahn, Amanda Peet, and Amanda Detmer

"Saving Silverman" is a lighthearted crossover comedy revolving around three best friends: Darren Silverman (Jason Biggs), J.D. (Jack Black), and Wayne (Steve Zahn). They might well be Neil Diamond's biggest fans and have even formed a Neil Diamond tribute band which they call "Diamonds in the Rough". After a gig in a local bar, Darren meets and falls for Judith Fessbeggler (Amanda Peet), who is a very beautiful but also very controlling psychologist. After six weeks together, Judith and Darren's relationship is showing unhealthy signs. Judith starts to control every aspect of Darren's life. She tries to isolate him from his friends, forces him into counseling, and at one point even makes him get silicone butt implants. J.D. and Wayne decide they have to save their friend from her by whatever means necessary and reunite Darren with his old high school girlfriend Sandy Perkus (Amanda Detmer), who happens to be back in Seattle to take her final vows and become a nun, of all things.

Darren's friends try everything to break up the unhappy couple, from offering Judith a straightforward bribe to challenging her to an arm wrestling contest, and finally fabricating pictures of Darren cheating. None of these plans work, and their sense of urgency grows to massive proportions.

The action in this film starts when Judith and Darren announce their engagement and Judith issues a decree forbidding him from seeing J.D. and Wayne. Darren's friends refuse to just let him go like that and cook up a foolproof plan that sets the stage for the rest of the movie. J.D. and Wayne decide to kidnap Judith and push her car off of a conveniently located nearby cliff to fake her death. Naturally Judith manages to escape from the basement where they have her chained to an engine block and our two heroes have to plot yet another kidnapping, this time involving Neil Diamond.

"Saving Silverman" couldn't have been blessed with better casting. Jack Black and Steve Zahn make a great comedic couple. The two comedy veterans have wonderful chemistry which could easily steal the show.. The scene where they're driving around in a van comparing Judith to Darth Vader is one of several show stoppers these two manage to deliver. Amanda Peet's take on Judith is a precise, studied attempt at the ultimate possessive, domineering, control-freak girlfriend who knows how good she looks and uses it to everybody's misfortune. Jason Biggs delivers such a convincing performance that you start to suspect he might really have been an artistic male cheerleader in high school. The addition of R. Lee Ermey as the deranged and misogynistic Coach Nolan was a stroke of brilliance.

The script was good and flowed fairly evenly, while Arthur Albert did just about everything in his power as the director of photography to light each and every scene in a way that sets the mood without getting pushy or distracting. If there's a downside to this movie, it would be the slightly silly premise. Of course, every movie calls for and deserves some suspension of disbelief, but the romantic/buddy comedy genres are too often guilty of losing track of reality altogether. A fine example of this is the apparent lack of consequences in the movie. In the real world, several felonies and a dramatic jailbreak are technically a crime spree and usually don't end well. "Saving Silverman" tries not to fall into this trap, but at times the comedy potential of shooting obnoxious characters with convenient tranquilizer darts and casually kidnapping celebrities proves at times to be too much to resist.

If you have a night off and you need to clear away some of the pizza and popcorn you have lying around, try renting the 'R' rated DVD version of this movie. If you've had good experiences with Jack Black before, you won't be disappointed.

Rating: 3 out of 5