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Hating 'Silverman'

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 9, 2001


    'Saving Silverman' Neil Diamond, Jason Biggs, Jack Black and Steve Zahn sing along in "Saving Silverman." (Columbia)
Let's accentuate the positive: "Saving Silverman" really stinks.

No, really. It's bad. Awful. Any comedy that revolves around big-eyed, goofy Jason Biggs as its romantic hero shouldn't anticipate a Golden Globe nomination even under the category of Best Picture for Mediocre Teen Comedy. (I mean, he was pretty funny in "American Pie" but do we have to watch him kissing anyone?) It's a lame attempt to walk the "Dumb and Dumber" walk, a club-fisted attempt to pitch "American Pie." It's no good. Are we clear? And it should come as little surprise that this movie was directed by Dennis Dugan, who did "Happy Gilmore" and "Big Daddy."

Okay, I do have one positive thing to mention, not counting my relief at seeing the final credits. Think of "Silverman" as a great screen test for the comedic talent of Steve Zahn and Jack Black. I mean, will someone please get some inspiration and write something funny for these two? They're great together, even in a bottom-of-the-barrel comedy like this. Save them from comedies like this. Their antics were the only things that stopped me from battering my head bloody against the seat in front of me.

Darren Silverman (Biggs), Wayne Le Fessier (Zahn) and J.D. McNugent (Black) were dweebs in school. Now they've grown up to be even bigger ones. Darren runs bingo games for the elderly. Wayne roots out household pests for a living. And J.D. watches TV and eats a lot. Darren, who was the only male cheerleader at school (by the way, feel free to laugh at any time), always had a thing for fellow student Sandy (Amanda Detmer) but never got the courage to ask her out.

When Darren meets the cold, aloof, beautiful Judith (Amanda Peet), he can't believe his good fortune. And even though she treats him like dirt and withholds her sexual favors, he's convinced she's the new girl of his dreams. When she expresses disgust with his low-life pals, Darren stops hanging with them and even quits their Neil Diamond tribute band (friendly reminder: feel free to laugh at any time). Wayne and J.D. are mad as hell. But when Darren announces his engagement to Judith, they declare war.

Can you say "kidnapping caper"? Will Wayne and J.D. save Darren from Judith and match him up with Sandy, who is thinking of becoming a nun (feel free, etc.)? And can R. Lee Ermey, so magnificent in "Full Metal Jacket," find better roles than this one, which forces him to degrade himself in ways no family newspaper could ever elucidate?

As I said, accentuate the positive. I enjoyed watching Zahn (who stole the show in "Happy, Texas") and Black (likewise in "High Fidelity") and look forward to seeing them in a comedy that doesn't require them to wrestle with fake raccoons, pull their jeans halfway down their buttocks or play second fiddle to anyone.

"Saving Silverman" (PG-13, 91 minutes) Contains crude everything, peekaboo shots of Peet (didn't she look at the rushes?) and too many shots of Jason Biggs in a lame shirt.


Copyright 2001 The Washington Post Company

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