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SAVING SILVERMAN (R)

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Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Jason Biggs, Steve Zahn, Jack Black, Amanda Peet, R. Lee Ermey, Amanda Detmer, Neil Diamond
Director: Dennis Dugan
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Columbia Tri Star
Features: See Review
Length: 96 Minutes
Release Date: July 17, 2001

“So, Darren tells me you’re a psychologist.”
“That’s right.”
“I’m in a related field.”
“Really? What is it?”
“Pest and rodent removal.”

Film ***

Saving Silverman is a wicked, slapstick farce that has an unusually believable premise. The idea of having a best friend surrender himself to marriage leaving two lifelong buds behind and somewhat jealous is an incident I’m sure a lot of people can relate to. The movie can also easily place itself in the long list of joyfully raunchy comedies, much in the spirit of American Pie and There’s Something About Mary. Considering that the director, Dennis Dugan, was the man behind the Adam Sandler comedies Happy Gilmore and Big Daddy, it seemed par for the course.

The movie stars Jason Biggs, one of the funniest young actors working today, as Darren Silverman, a likeable chum who’s had absolutely zero success with women. That is, until he comes across the beautiful Judith (Amanda Peet), a psychologist who Darren meets in a bar one night, and the two immediately seem to hit it off. The only bad thing is, Judith turns out to be as cold-hearted as they come, and Darren doesn’t realize it, but his two lifelong best friends, Wayne (Steve Zahn) and J.D. (Jack Black) do. They don’t approve of Judith and her taming of Darren, and when it is announced that the two are engaged, Wayne and J.D. intend on going to war. To prevent the wedding, they come up with a simple plan; kidnap Judith, fake her death, and set Darren up with the not so cold-hearted Sandy (Amanda Detmer), whom Darren had a secret crush on in high school.

The movie was given a PG-13 rating in theaters, and this DVD release features an exclusive R rated version, which I’ve been told has added a few scenes of nudity. Having said that, Saving Silverman must have challenged the MPAA rating system quite a bit to include scene of a guy getting butt implants, Darren illustrating how tired his jaw is after Judith seduces him, and a scene of a character doing fully nude calisthenics. Add an array of jokes revolving around masturbation, homosexuality, and various permutations of interaction between males and females. That’s not to say that it makes the film bad in anyway, but it’s a rather interesting observation.

The performances in Saving Silverman are more than perfect for the demands of a comedy. Biggs is hard to resist as the clumsy loser, but the movie really belongs to Steve Zahn and Jack Black, as two desperate friends who will, and do, go to any stupefying length to save their friend from marrying the wrong woman. There’s also a scene stealing performance from R. Lee Ermey, best known for his hard as nails drill sergeant in Full Metal Jacket. Here, he plays the high school football coach that Wayne and J.D. go to for advice on how to handle the kidnapping, to which he simply tells them, “Just kill her.” There’s also an appearance from legendary singer Neil Diamond, who’s the idol of Darren, Wayne, and J.D., who in a couple of scenes dress up as Diamond look-alikes and perform numerous songs.

Video ****

The cover box claims to have both the widescreen and full-screen editions of the movie, but thankfully, only the anamorphic widescreen version is included. Having said that, Columbia Tri Star has done a more than fantastic job on the transfer to Saving Silverman, with the picture image being that of a consistently clear and sharp one, with completely vibrant colors and no picture flaws whatsoever.

Audio ***

A noteworthy, acceptable 5.1 Dolby Digital presentation, which is put to good use for a comedy. Dialogue is easily understandable, even when mixed in with a numerous music numbers in the movie, which really shine in the presentation.

Features **1/2

Aside from the added bonus of being a re-edited R rated version, the disc also includes an outtakes reel, a commentary from director Dennis Dugan, and trailers for this film and other CTS releases including Loser, The Cable Guy, Big Daddy, and Whipped.

Summary:

If it’s mindless, tasteless humor you’re in search of, and there’s a whole lot of that around in today’s comedies, Saving Silverman is a harmless laugh fest that should indeed satisfy you.