Saving Silverman (R-Rated Version)
Columbia/Tri-Star
Review by Adam Tyner | posted July 10, 2001
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Jason Biggs, having cornered the lovelorn loser market with American Pie, Loser, and Boys and Girls, plays that same note again with the critical disaster Saving Silverman. Biggs stars as Darren Silverman, a young man utterly obsessed with Neil Diamond and consistently maintaining a zero batting average with the fairer sex. His string of failures seems to turn around when his lifelong buddies (Steve Zahn and High Fidelity's Jack Black) steer him towards Judith, an unapproachable ice princess played by Amanda Peet. Judith quickly dominates Darren, bending him to her indomitable will and forbidding him to have even the slightest contact with his two fellow Neil Diamond fanatics. This doesn't go over particularly well with his old pals, who scheme to kidnap Judith and reunite Darren with Sandy, his old high school crush and fellow cheerleader (Amanda Detmer, who co-starred with Biggs in Boys and Girls, my pick for the worst movie of 2000). Needless to say, wackiness ensues.

I was spared the torment and agony of seeing the Saving Silverman trailer beforehand. If I were that unfortunate, I'm positive I wouldn't have bothered giving this disc a spin. The end result, as hard as it may be to believe, is not nearly as bad as the trailer would seem to indicate. Saving Silverman didn't have me to wall-to-wall hysterics, but I found myself laughing more frequently than at any other comedy I've seen in the past year. It's not a particularly witty movie, but it seems dumb by design, still rarely resorting to the banal humor of its mindless, ejaculate-driven competition. Saving Silverman unquestionably has its flaws, particularly numerous terrible jokes that bob around lifeless in the comedy pool, but enough of the gags work to make this movie worth at least a rental.

There's no indication on the disc or its packaging what the 'racy never before seen footage' in this R-rated version of Saving Silverman is, exactly. Dennis Dugan's commentary points mostly towards "no-no" words and phrases, along with two lengthy and largely non-offensive scenes cut for pacing. Those picking up the R-rated version in the hopes of being treated to the sort of additional nudity the expanded Road Trip offered may find themselves disappointed.

Video: Saving Silverman is presented at 1.85:1 and is, not surprisingly, enhanced for widescreen televisions. The film is bursting with color, and those bold hues seem accurately reproduced on this DVD release. Black levels and shadow delineation are both excellent, and the image is crisp and detailed. Grain, assorted specks, and print flaws never rear their nasty heads to any appreciable extent. This is a typically solid effort from Columbia/Tri-Star, but there's a slight error with the packaging. The sleeve states that full-screen and widescreen versions of Saving Silverman are available on separate sides of the disc, but this DVD is single-sided. Whoops. I would hope no one reading this review would have even the slightest interest in a presentation that alters the original aspect ratio, so it's not a big loss.

Audio: Both stereo surround and Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks are selectable on Saving Silverman. As is typical with comedies, Saving Silverman is driven by dialogue, with most of the auditory interest located front and center. Surrounds are reserved mostly for Mike Simpson's rather nice synth-rock score and Neil Diamond-tasticness, though the occasional effect will hop over into the rear portions of the soundscape, such as Jack Black's head being dunked in a toilet. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio doesn't sport the sort of flashiness that DVD message board devotees seem to crave, but this track is pretty much in keeping with the genre and just what a film like this needs.

Supplements: Director Dennis Dugan recorded the commentary track shortly before Saving Silverman opened theatrically. The informal, chatty discussion is heavy on pointing out Happy Gilmore alumni and comments about which gags struck Dugan as funny, each occurring often enough to make for a pretty rowdy drinking game. There's a decent amount of technical information tossed into the mix, and the inventive Dugan goes into detail about a camera rig he developed himself for photographing motorcycle footage. Regardless of your feelings about Saving Silverman or (shudders) Big Daddy, next time you watch a movie where a character is puttering around on a Harley and doesn't seem as stiff or lifeless as normal, you may very well have Dennis Dugan to thank. Dugan also answers one of the questions I had from the get-go -- how could someone as young as Jason Biggs pal around in the same classes as the considerably older Steve Zahn and Jack Black? No, I'm not familiar with suspension of disbelief. The director's enthusiasm for the film itself and the talent involved is evident, helping in some small way to overcome the frequent brief gaps of silence and repetition.

Dugan mentions in the commentary that he had pulled out some of Jack Black's mascot dancing footage specifically for this DVD release, which turns up as part of the three and a half minutes of outtakes. The majority of these bits are just flubbed lines, something I don't personally find hysterical, but it's still nice to see a little something extra added to a DVD.

An anamorphic widescreen trailer for Saving Silverman is featured alongside trailers for other CTHV releases featuring the film's cast and crew, including Dennis Dugan's Big Daddy, Jason Biggs' Loser, Amanda Peet's Whipped, and Jack Black's The Cable Guy. All of those additional trailers are full-frame with the exception of the 16x9-enhanced Loser. Rounding out the supplements are filmographies for Dennis Dugan, Jason Biggs, Jack Black, Steve Zahn, and Amanda Peet.

Conclusion: Like far too many comedies, Saving Silverman doesn't really offer much replay value beyond the first couple of viewings, though it has enough laughs to make for a solid rental. Rent it.


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