Saving Silverman Review

THE FILM

The film has been re-titled ‘Evil Woman’ for U.K region 2 distribution.

Looking at director Dennis Dugan’s career I’m reminded of a ski slope and how one end starts out high and then there is a sharp, steep fall to the bottom. He should be remembered for the wonderful Happy Gilmore or the outrageous Chris Farley ninja-a-thon Beverly Hills Ninja, but unfortunately he’s more likely to be remembered for the mediocre Big Daddy, or perhaps this – probably his worst film. Some films are enjoyable because they’re so bad, they’re good - Saving Silverman is so bad, it’s just plain bad. There’s so much wrong with the film it’s not surprising a name change and promotional u-turn has come about in this country. From the idea of two best friends saving their other best friend from marrying the wrong woman, with Jack Black and Steve Zahn dishing out off-the-wall antics, to a U.K promotional stint where the woman in question is suddenly strangely overtly evil, you begin to see that the film – from concept to execution – is a total muddled mess.

For what it is worth, the story goes something like this: Darren Silverman (Jason Biggs) is having some trouble finding the right woman but when beautiful Judith walks into his life, things seem to be turning around for him. He meets her in bar, and only gets to talk to her after a street magician tries to ‘hit’ on Judith using so-called ‘magic’ metal rings, so she drags the closest guy near her and pretends that he is her boyfriend in order to get rid of the magician. That guy happens to be Darren. All seems well, but best friends Wayne Lefessier (Steve Zahn) and J.D McNugent (Jack Black) notice that they’re spending less time with Darren and believe that Judith is a bad influence on him. When Darren’s ex-love comes into town, his two best friends sense an opportunity to set them up together and get Judith out the picture, but they have to be quick because his long-lost love will soon become a nun. Problem is, Judith isn’t willing to let Darren go, so Wayne and J.D kidnap her so she can’t spoil their plans.

The plot may sound stupid but I didn’t expect anything less. With a film such as this, a coherent story isn’t a major factor, in fact, the stupider the better! What I do want from a film like this is likeable, sympathetic characters (at least one!) and consistent, funny comedy. What we get is neither.

A script written by a couple of writers who only previously collaborated on a comedy about two idiots called Killer Bud, you know you’re in for a struggle. I’ll certainly be looking out for other films written by Greg DePaul and Hank Nelken, and staying the hell away. I’ve seen many comedies, some that work, some that don’t, where being ‘stupid’ is where the classic gags of funny-dom are to be found. The stupider the better, but never be totally dumb without an ounce of sympathy because the audience will just see you as moronic idiots, and lose interest. A couple of examples at both ends of the spectrum would be the Farrelly’s Dumb and Dumber, which is probably the bench mark film in ‘stupid is, stupid does’, while Norm Macdonald’s attempt to break away from Saturday Night Live with the film Screwed is the polar opposite. In Saving Silverman we get Darren who probably can’t tie his shoelaces, Wayne who probably can but puts them on the wrong feet and J.D who wears his chicken football mascot suit to work on casual Friday. Actually, that last one is in the film and is one of the better jokes. The problem is, none of them have any real depth so we can’t connect with them. We don’t care whether Darren is happy or not with Judith, which makes his friends attempts at splitting them up redundant. An attempt is made to show why Judith isn’t right for Darren with her over-powering, controlling nature towards him, but no good reason is given for this and we feel more sorry for her than for the man on the receiving end.

Director Dugan really doesn’t have much to work with but it seems that he has made no attempt to rectify or at least gloss over the fact that there are no human beings in this story, just cardboard cutouts. His clunky direction leaves the actors hanging with poor dialogue, and there is a distinct lack of chemistry between the characters. It is quite obvious that the actors have the same reservations about the script as I have now, but unfortunately for them, Dugan can’t sort them out.

The best thing about the movie is Jack Black but even he can’t save it from disappearing into a dark black void. With such young talent as Amanda Peet and Jason Biggs, it is surprising to see such bored, bland performances. The usually superb Steve Zahn is left with nothing to work with, and neither his ability to time a good line or physical humour makes much of an appearance here.


THE DVD

It should be noted that this is one of the few discs to use RCE. RCE prevents some multi-region DVD players from playing discs not coded for that particular region.

The picture is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and has anamorphic enhancement. There is also a 4:3 pan and scan option available. The quality of the picture is excellent with colours natural and well defined. The image is sharp and clear, and as expected with a new film, the print used is in superb condition.

The sound is Dolby Digital 5.1 and sounds very good. For a comedy such as this, I didn’t expect much in the way of surround effects but the rear channels are used well creating a good enveloping sound. Dialogue is also well mixed, with the main brunt coming from the main front speaker, but the sound also positions itself in key with the action on screen with dialogue in both front right and left speakers. Overall, the sound is crisp and clear throughout.

Audio Commentary by Dennis Dugan - The director is surprisingly upbeat about the film, but the funny thing is he mentions on more than one occasion ‘I can’t believe that didn’t get a laugh’! Dugan is a pretty good talker, mixing technical stuff with anecdotes. The commentary is fairly enjoyable even if there’s no reason to listen to it!

Outtakes - Jack Black is very funny in these outtakes so they are worth a viewing. Why the film wasn’t just made up of these I will never understand – put it this way I laughed more times watching 3 minutes 42 seconds of outtakes, than I did during the entire main feature.

Theatrical Trailer, Production Notes and Filmographies - If the trailer isn’t enough to put you off this film, then this review should do. There are also trailers for Loser, Big Daddy, The Cable Guy and Whipped. The filmographies are basic, and the production notes are simple and fairly superfluous.


OVERALL

‘Truly awful’ should sum-up my feelings about this film concisely enough. It isn’t funny, and it isn’t very enjoyable. It’s one of those films where you want to turn it off after about twenty minutes but you keep watching in the hope it gets better. Well, it doesn’t. The film is given an average release with excellent picture and sound, and the odd worthwhile extra feature. I’m giving the film 2/10: one is for Jack Black’s amusing moments, and the second is for Columbia TriStar, for having the bottle to even release this on DVD.


Film
2 out of 10
Video
9 out of 10
Audio
8 out of 10
Extras
3 out of 10
Overall

5

out of 10

Last updated: 01/05/2018 20:57:26

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