“‘Silverman’ is Not Worth Saving”
by Scott Mantz

“Saving Silverman”
Jason Biggs, Amanda Peet
Directed by Dennis Dugan

Amanda Peet and Steve Zahn (with Jack Black) flex their muscles in “Saving Silverman”

It’s one thing for the whole to be less than the sum of its parts, but it’s another thing for the whole to be downright awful. At least, that’s the case with the largely tasteless, painfully unfunny, and almost unwatchable “Saving Silverman.” Despite the presence of promising talent like Jason Biggs, Amanda Peet, Steve Zahn, and Jack Black, it’s safe to say that they were all more promising elsewhere. The fact is, none of them can save “Silverman” from being the lost cause that it is. (That’s too bad–the beginning was actually pretty funny.)

Darren (Jason Biggs), Wayne (Steve Zahn), and JD (Jack Black) have been best buddies since high school, but all that’s about to change. Darren is a lonely, sensitive nice guy, but when he falls for a gorgeous bitch on wheels named Judith (Amanda Peet), he starts thinking with his glands and becomes p-whipped with a capital “P.” He dotes on her hand and foot, while she barely acknowledges his existence (she must be from Los Angeles). Eventually, she forbids him from doing all of the things that he likes to do–including hanging out with his friends and performing in their Neil Diamond tribute band. When Darren and Judith decide to get married, it’s up to Wayne and JD to stop that from happening–even if it means having to kidnap Judith to do it.

As long as Jason Biggs keeps making movies like this, then he’ll forever be known as the kid who tried to screw a pastry in “American Pie.” That film may have put him on the map, but he’s been stuck in losers like “Boys and Girls” and, well, “Loser” (now there’s an aptly titled movie!) ever since. The same can be said of Steve Zahn, who practically stole the show in films like “That Thing You Do,” “Out of Sight,” and “Happy, Texas,” and Jack Black, who gave a razor sharp edge to last year’s excellent “High Fidelity.” Even Amanda Peet, who made “The Whole Nine Yards” worth seeing (barely), seems like she’d rather be in another movie (probably “Charlie’s Angels”).

For a film that’s pretty funny for the first 20 minutes, it’s amazing how fast it goes south. It starts out by poking fun at the 80’s in a way that instantly recalls “The Wedding Singer,” but then it relies on tasteless humor and shameless gay jokes to get a rise out of the audience. Sorry, but this isn’t a Farrelly brothers movie. Also, Jack Black tries to put his usual acerbic wit into the film, but his failure can only be attributed to the weakness of the material. Finally, when Neil Diamond makes his grand appearance, it’s more like an embarrassment than a “hot August night.”

Before it dies completely, “Saving Silverman” actually shows some signs of a heartbeat. The film sets up the importance and the power of what it means to be friends for life. Everybody can relate to the pain and the loss when a member of the gang falls in love with someone else and starts a new life, but its too bad the film didn’t follow through with more of this. As it is, take my word for it–this is one film that’s not worth saving–unless you’re drunk, and you don’t know any better.