Saving Silverman (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

A thumbs down from Tuna. Scoop originally gave a thumb down, but finds that his thumb is now creeping upward. You'll probably like it if you are a male of student age.

Scoop's comments in white:

Jason Biggs appears for about the zillionth consecutive time as the sincere but socially inept young man. This time he is so desperate for a girlfriend that he puts up with the all-time queen bitch because she is beautiful.

His loser friends (Steve Zahn and Jack Black) see the predicament the naive Biggs is putting himself in, and devise a plan to rescue him. They kidnap the queen bitch (Amanda Peet), fake her death, and reintroduce Biggs to the great true love of his life in the form of his high school sweetheart. Unfortunately, she is about to take her final vows to become a nun. Along the way to the end of the movie, there is a crazed coach from their high school, and some other oddball crap that isn't very funny. It's mostly recycled Three Stooges material, as modified slightly for loser guys who act like stoners. 


Amanda Detmer shows part of her breasts (brief nipple-peeks) and buns

Odessa Munroe and Tracy Trueman play two hookers, and are topless throughout a lengthy scene.

Zahn and Black are funny guys, but the script gives them no discipline, no context in which to ply their trade. They basically got a camera shoved in their faces and marching orders to act as stupid and as frantic as possible. 

I did think one thing about it was pretty funny. The three losers all worship Neil Diamond. They have a band called Diamonds in the Rough in which all three of them pretend to be 70's-era Neil, and the real Neil makes several appearances in the film, including a final appearance as the deus ex machina who gets the true lovers back together, then leads them through an entertaining romp singing with the cast over the final credits (ala There's Something About Mary)

I watched this with my wife and daughter. We represent three radically different perspectives, but all three of us loved American Pie, so we figured this might have the same sort of appeal. It didn't. A lot of it was mean-spirited sexual politics ala Whipped, and the cast was generally wasted. I liked it the best of the three of us, because I have to love any film that spends its entire running time making fun of Neil Diamond, and even gets Neil to participate. Unfortunately, Elya migrated from Russia in the late 80's, and Katya is 15, so they really didn't get the Neil Diamond humor at all and, absent that, there wasn't much else to laugh at. In fact, Elya watched for a while, then asked me if it was supposed to be a comedy, which gives you an indication of just how heavy-handed was the portrayal of the evil bitch Amanda Peet character.

The film is clearly marketed at young male audiences, and it succeeds with that target group. People under 18 score it 6.8 at IMDb, compared to a maximum of 5.4 from all other demographic groups.

The film has two brilliant moments, both in the final five minutes:

  • Neil Diamond reunites the true lovers, which leaves the Bitch Goddess alone at the altar. She asks, "where is MY special someone?" Steve Zahn appears, singing a Diamond song to her. They run toward each other's arms. The romantic music swells. At the last minute, Bitch Goddess grabs a folding chair from the outdoor wedding arrangement, and clobbers Zahn with it, screaming, "YOU! You ruined my life".
  • You just have to have some love for a film where R. Lee Ermey, the heartless drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket, is gay, is dressed up in glittery disco clothing, and is dancing along to 70s music under the disco ball. He is one funky monkey. (Surprisingly, he's actually quite a funny guy!)

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1

  • outtakes

  • full-length director's commentary

 Tuna's comments in yellow:

Start with Ruthless People, but replace Bette Midler with Amanda Peet, the poodle with a raccoon, and the clown suit with a chicken suit. Add a Something About Mary sweetheart played by Amanda Detmer, and some Wayne's World type stupid doper losers. Now remove anything that seems funny, and replace it with Neil Diamond and two topless hookers, and you have Saving Silverman. I have to admit I laughed a couple of times, and the DVD was a joy to work with (well lit, saturated colors, no graininess), but this film is mostly dull as dishwater. I have to award extra points for the designer of the bra Peet wore under a white dress cut in front to her navel. It not only held her breasts in place, but hid any chance of a nipple slip.

Detmer was charming, and I would like to see her with more to work with in terms of a script. (
Scoop notes: I agree in the sense that she's as cute as a button, but she turns 32 years old this month, and I don't know how much more mileage she can get out of playing this type of character.)  I had the feeling that this was almost a movie, and could have been a decent teen comedy with better writing.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: no consensus, but two stars was about the average. Ebert 0.5/4, Berardinelli 3/4, Apollo 78. Ostensibly, Roger Ebert differed significantly from the other two, but that is misleading. Most critics hated the film, Berardinelli and Apollo were two rare exceptions.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 5.4, but it plays very well with teenage audiences, scoring 6.8 from voters under 18.
  • With their dollars ... it opened fairly strong with a seven million dollar weekend, but word of mouth wasn't good, and it maxed out at $19 million, compared to a $22 million budget. 
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C-. A few funny moments and plenty of Neil Diamond mockery almost redeem this below-average raunchy comedy aimed at the very young male market.

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