The raucous gross-out comedies of the Farrelly brothers, in all their obstreperous indecency, are models of keen wit and compassionate humanism compared with the stinky meanness of Saving Silverman. And I’d say so even if this quote comedy unquote, this for-the-boys poop pie weren’t greased with gratuitous scenes of torture, the most hilarious of which involves electroshock administered with clamps attached to a young man’s nipples. (The marketing department obviously thinks this visual joke is a thigh slapper; it appears often on TV in Silverman promos during prime time.)
I say this, rather, because in one rotten production — directed by Dennis Dugan with finesse developed during his work on Adam Sandler’s Big Daddy and Happy Gilmore — all involved have managed to create the most unlikable, man-hating, woman-hating, unfunny idiots since Whipped ended up on worst-movie lists last year.
And I say this because, most tragically of all, Saving Silverman makes even Steve Zahn (Out of Sight) and Jack Black (High Fidelity) look bad. Which is a challenge, as well as a terrible waste of assets.
As for Jason Biggs, we’re used to him taking the kind of dodo roles Freddie Prinze Jr. might turn down. The loser from Loser plays Darren Silverman, a mild dolt (a Biggs specialty he may want to retire) who, although not repulsive to chicks, prefers to hang out with his longtime dumbo friends, Wayne (Zahn) and J.D. (Black), the three of them bonded in their kitschy adulation of Neil Diamond. The trio is in danger of busting up, though, because Darren has taken up with a woman so hatable and irredeemably skeevy that she’s named Judith Fessbegler. Amanda Peet, star of Whipped, does the honors — and she too may want to retire this narrow specialty and shop for something that makes better use of her strong personality and features.
”Don’t make me be taking away your masturbating privileges,” Judith tells Darren when he balks at abandoning his friends on her command. She won’t give him sex, but she does give him hand lotion, intent on controlling the fiancé she calls her ”puppet.” So the boys save Darren from an icky girl by kidnapping and torturing Judith while trying to relight the torch their pal once carried for an insipidly nice former girlfriend (Amanda Detmer).
There’s not room, or need, to go into detail about the butt-cheek implant operation we’re privy to or the racist Asian jokes or the violent struggle between Judith and her captors or the scene in which an addled old football coach (R. Lee Ermey) is humorously mowed down by an oncoming car — a stunt that, like the use of electroshock, is best left to the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. There’s reason, though, to note that Neil Diamond himself eventually participates in this rout. The brief scenes involving the aging popster, while good post-ironic fun, are not enough to save Silverman or this picture. F
— Lisa Schwarzbaum
STARRING Jason Biggs Amanda Peet COLUMBIA RATED PG-13 90 MINUTES