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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Saving Silverman (2001)

"I brought you some more videos. You got your choice: porno or monster trucks. I got one that's both."
- J.D. (Jack Black)

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: July 17, 2001

Stars: Jason Biggs, Amanda Peet, Jack Black, Steve Zahn
Other Stars: Amanda Detmer, R. Lee Ermey
Director: Dennis Dugan

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, language, and thematic material
Run Time: 01h:31m:23s
Release Date: July 17, 2001
UPC: 043396070660
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C D+B+B C+

DVD Review

I must say, Saving Silverman has given me great hope. Perhaps audiences are getting smarter. After all, while tripe like The Waterboy and Big Daddy pulled in millions just a few years ago, Saving Silverman, a film not really any better or worse than either of those two pictures, was released to tepid box-office returns of roughly $19 million, even with a pervasive marketing campaign. Don't get me wrong, I have no hatred for stupid humor (I love Dumb and Dumber), I just hate the lazy, uneven, and sloppy excuse for humor that has populated the genre of late.

Silverman starts with an interesting idea, anyway. Darren (Biggs) has been best friends with J.D. (Black) and Wayne (Zahn) since childhood. But then Darren meets Judith (Peet), and problems develop. It seems Judith likes to keep a handle on her man, and she begins to redesign Darren's life to suit her plans. J.D. and Wayne, concerned about their friend and the low scores on the "fun meter," decide the best solution is to kidnap Judith and, in the meantime, try to set Darren up with an old flame (Detmer). Theoretically, hilarity ensues.

This film tries really, really hard to be funny. It follows the "gross out" formula to a "T" in a clear bid for the There's Something About Mary crowd. There are the sidekicks (Zahn and Black), the assertive female (Peet), and the syrupy love story (Detmer and Biggs), with the added wackiness only such a film can bring to the table (this time, it's foul-mouthed boxing nuns). Unfortunately, all these conflicting elements tend to bog things down. I enjoyed the quirky kidnapping subplot, which featured some funny stuff from Peet and Black especially, but the stupid and extremely poorly written love story stopped the film dead. It seems like the jokes were only half-written. For example, Detmer's family consists of a bunch of circus freaks. They don't do anything funny; they are just there. When does the funny part start? Where has all the laughter gone?

On the bright side, this film features Jack Black, a treasure who was brilliant in High Fidelity, and who is only passable here. Steve Zahn is quite amusing at times, but he is given more of the exposition and plot-centric dialogue, so he has less to do. Peet, mining the same character she played in Whipped again seems to have fun with her dominating schtick. Biggs, who has never been good in anything except American Pie, is shockingly not good here, once again proving his affinity for boring the audience to death. Dugan has directed a lot of these stupid comedies, and he does a good job keeping the plot moving, but even he can't save this dullard of a script.

Note that this DVD was released in both a PG-13 and an R-rated cut. I viewed the less randy version, but I can't imagine the extra three minutes of footage in the alternate cut is bursting with insightful social satire.

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: D+

 

Image Transfer

 OneTwo
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyesno
Anamorphicyesno


Image Transfer Review: As studios put more and more money into DVD, it becomes harder and harder to find problems with the transfers of new releases. This is a nice, crisp, and colorful transfer. Saving Silverman is a very bright, almost cartoonish film, and onscreen, things look appropriately saturated. The black level is likewise very good, and the darker scenes don't show even a hint of film grain. The overall sharpness and fine detail is very good as well. However, though I noticed no edge-enhancement, I did see a bit of aliasing and a few scenes with digital artifacting. However, overall, this is quite a nice transfer. An open matte transfer is also available on the other side of the disc.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Frenchyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: This is pretty much your standard comedy track. The surrounds are put to use strictly for crowd noise, some of the more riotous action scenes, and to augment the score and pop music on the soundtrack. Other than that, everything is confined to the front soundstage. The dialogue is usually clear and understandable, but at times, it seemed a bit to low in the mix, as the music would overshadow it a bit. Speaking of music, the pop song-heavy soundtrack uses both the front and the surrounds to good effect. There isn't a lot of directionality in the mix, and only a few instances of split surrounds, but overall, it works with the film.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Loser, The Cable Guy, Big Daddy, Whipped
Production Notes
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Dennis Dugan
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Outtake reel
Extras Review: For some reason, Columbia TriStar decided Saving Silverman was a film screaming for an infsightful commentary track. Whatever. Director Dennis Dugan has done tracks for most of his recent releases, and he does a good job of keeping things moving. He sticks mostly to anecdotes about Jack Black, comments about Amanda's "peets," and comments like, "This is funny. Hee hee." Interestingly enough, it seems the track was recorded before the film was released. I would've preferred an after-the-fact recording, if only to hear the crushing defeat in Dugan's voice. "I don't understand. Big Daddy was such a hit!" (Hee hee. Now that's funny.)

An outtake reel is included as well. It runs three minutes and consists mostly of shots of the cast either screwing up or ad-libbing. It's actually quite a bit funnier than the film. After you've finished quickly glancing through the bio-less filmographies, head over to the trailer gallery to see promos for Saving Silverman, Jack Black's The Cable Guy, Amanda Peet's Whipped, Jason Bigg's Loser, and Dugan's Big Daddy. Ah, all such fine, fine films.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

I wouldn't recommend a purchase of Silverman, but it might do for a rental (as long as the evening plans involve alcohol, pot, or both). I like the cast, and some of the performances are quite good, but the script falls flat and the direction is uneven. However, the DVD looks quite nice and has a few nice features.

 


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