Saving Silverman

Directed by Dennis Dugan
Starring: Jason Biggs, Steve Zahn, Jack Black, Amanda Peet, Amanda Detmer, R. Lee Ermey
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, language, and thematic material.

Review by Evelyn Gildrie-Voyles <evy@filmhead.com>
February 12, 2001

As I write this, my heart is heavy with sadness. Oh, that a movie with such a good cast could be so mediocre. I sit here in the my house, dazed, trying to figure out what went wrong, who is to blame, how could something like this happen?

The plot is not to blame -- it's full of trashy promise. JD (Jack Black), Wayne (Steve Zahn), and Darren (Jason Biggs) have been friends since childhood. Their friendship is threatened by Darren's manipulative and truly evil girlfriend, Judith (Amanda Peet). Wayne and JD decide to save Darren by reuniting him with his one true love -- Sandy (Amanda Detmer), but first they must get rid of Judith, so they kidnap her. This sets the stage for what should be zaniness and comic complications, but what is instead rather predictable and boring "dumb kidnappers" schtick.

There are some very amusing bits -- power lifting nuns, an insane but loveable football coach, the characters' Neil Diamond obsession, and the whole last twenty minutes of the film are extremely funny -- and not just with comparison to the rest of the movie. The character of Judith deserves a better film. She is a complete ball-breaking bitch. The stereotype is taken so far that it becomes original in its extremity. Amanda Peet really sinks her teeth into this part and is highly entertaining. R. Lee Ermey as the coach is also hysterical and Jason Biggs and Amanda Detmer are adorable. So why is this film bad? Who is to blame?

Hank Nelken and Greg DePaul, the writers, and (this hurts so much to write) Jack Black and Steve Zahn. Black and Zahn have the most screen time and most often they just aren't funny. Zahn gets to be occasionally humorous -- particularly at the end, but the writers provide Black with lines that are just plain stupid. Black does not make a convincing idiot. He is a quipping wise guy not a Chris Farley clone. The most painful scenes occur when Judith outwits first JD and then Wayne into letting her escape. She uses the most obvious and clichéd methods and they are taken at face value rather than exaggerating or spoofing them in any way that might add humor or even slight amusement.

By far the best thing about the film was the preview for The Fast and the Furious, coming out later this year. Thankfully, Nelken and DePaul didn't write it so it might actually be the good trashy fun it promises to be.


For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
Saving Silverman (2001)

Here's some merchandise for sale at Amazon.com
Saving Silverman (2001) [PG-13 version] -- VHS
Saving Silverman (2001) [PG-13 version] -- DVD
Saving Silverman (2001) [R version] -- DVD


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