Second Coming: ‘Silverman’ earns saving from NYU paper

Issue date: 02.06.2004

Second Coming: ‘Silverman’ earns saving
‘Saving Silverman’: Rated R

by Brett Harrison Davinger
Staff Writer

“Saving Silverman” is a stupid comedy. And therein lies its brilliance.

Many movies today are billed as “stupid comedies,” but this is usually a misnomer. They’re typically just stupid movies with scattered comedic moments. It’s not only that they aren’t funny but many times (for extended periods) the filmmakers don’t even try for jokes, opting instead for easy montages or contrived breakup scenes or the lead antagonist (either the idiot guy or the bitchy girl) suddenly growing a heart. They try too hard to make the hero or heroine humble and likeable. They care too much about following the “story” and going through the predictable plot machinations than actually creating humor, and so the whole movie (and audience) suffers.

“Saving Silverman” is not this kind of movie. Here, the plot is not king. Jokes take precedence; logic is thrown out the window and the characters are only sympathetic in that they are all morons. The movie doesn’t go for the one or two big gross-out scenes repeated ad nauseum in the trailer; instead it goes for consistent comedy and laughs. Rather than alternating setup with payoff, it’s all payoff. For once, the focus is on comic relief.

The deservedly-famous Jack Black (“School of Rock”) and the criminally under appreciated Steve Zahn (“Shattered Glass”) play the two Neil Diamond-obsessed, dim-witted best friends of nebbishy Darren Silverman (“American Pie’s” Jason Biggs). The two friends must save Darren from the clutches of his new girlfriend Judith Fessbeggler (Amanda Peet), a domineering ice-princess described as “like the Emperor [from Star Wars] but with really great tits.” They do so by kidnapping her and faking her death.

“Silverman” is not only a very funny movie, but also one of those movies that requires repeated viewing in order to fully appreciate the humor – it truly does get a lot funnier the more times you see it. Once you know what you’re getting into, you can just shut off your brain and enjoy it thoroughly– which is increasingly rare in today’s comedies.

Sure, not everyone will enjoy it. Plenty will think it’s just a stupid, unfunny movie. But for those who like flat-out funny, mindless entertainment, “Saving Silverman” is a rare gem in a tired genre. And can anyone really hate a movie whose moral center is Neil Diamond? •

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