Los Angeles Times

Saving Silverman


Friday February 9, 2001

     "Saving Silverman" is a standard-issue numskull comedy that aims low but is high in energy. The humor may be less than inspired, to put it kindly, but the shenanigans are nonstop.
     In any event, director Dennis Dugan has encouraged his actors to throw themselves completely into their roles, with the result that you come away impressed with their unstinting professionalism. Maybe they actually had fun doing this film, but if so, this feeling is likely to be contagious only to those who like their movies relentlessly mindless.
     Wayne (Steve Zahn), J.D. (Jack Black) and Darren (Jason Biggs) have been best pals since fifth grade, their friendship cemented by a profound admiration for Neil Diamond. Wayne has a pest- and rodent-control business; J.D. is a feckless minimum-wage fast-food employee; and Darren is a social director at a retirement home. They have their own Diamond cover band, Diamonds in the Rough, in which they perform wearing long-haired wigs, tight pants and flashy shirts in emulation of their idol in his salad days. They share an old house Wayne inherited from his grandmother.
     Wayne and J.D. are sweet-natured, dimwitted slobs, and though Darren is no Einstein, he's a tad brighter than his friends and far more normal in appearance and behavior but also far more vulnerable. He is ripe for a takeover by ice-cold, manipulative therapist Judith (Amanda Peet). (Why this sophisticated woman would be attracted to the boyish, insecure Darren eventually becomes clear.)
     Judith doesn't love Darren, she simply wants to own him, as she forthrightly tells his pals before banishing them from her life and that of Darren, who's so amazed that such a glamour girl would have anything to do with him that he's convinced himself that he loves her.
     Slowly, Wayne and J.D. realize that Darren's life will be ruined if they don't rescue him from Judith's clutches. The desperate, cockamamie measures they undertake in swift succession take up the rest of the picture.
     Darren's high school true love, played by Amanda Detmer, reappears after a long absence, but she's about to become a nun. Also featured is R. Lee Ermey as the boys' crazy, frenetic high school coach.
     In desperation they turn to the one person in the world they believe can help them save Darren--Neil Diamond himself.
     Filmed in Vancouver, which is becoming as familiar to moviegoers as L.A., "Saving Silverman," written by Greg DePaul & Hank Nelken, is as disposable as a paper towel.
     Somehow Zahn, with his irrepressible high spirits and zany, antic sense of comedy, and Detmer, whose Sandy is delectably dizzy, soar above the circumstances. Diamond is good-natured in his cameo, which leaves you wishing he and his music could have been featured more prominently.

Saving Silverman, 2001. PG-13, for crude and sexual humor, language, and thematic material. A Columbia Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures presentation in association with NPV Entertainment of an Original Film production. Director Dennis Dugan. Producer Neal H. Moritz. Executive producers Bruce Berman, Bernie Goldmann, Bradd Luff, Peter Ziegler. Screenplay Greg DePaul & Hank Nelken. Cinematographer Arthur Albert. Editor Debra Neil-Fisher. Music Mike Simpson. Costumes Melissa Toth. Production designer Michael Bolton. Art director James Steuart. Set decorator Louise Roper. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes. Steve Zahn as Wayne. Jack Black as J.D.. Jason Biggs as Darren. Amanda Peet as Judith. Amanda Detmer as Sandy. R. Lee Ermey as Coach. Neil Diamond as Himself.

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