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Interscope presents
Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic (2005)

"I don't care if you think I'm racist. I only care if you think I'm thin."
- Sarah Silverman

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: June 26, 2006

Stars: Sarah Silverman
Other Stars: Bob Odenkirk, Brian Posehn, Laura Silverman
Director: Liam Lynch

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, explicit sexual humor)
Run Time: 01h:10m:20s
Release Date: June 06, 2006
UPC: 855280001410
Genre: comedy


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

DVD Review

Is anyone really shocked and offended by anything comedians say anymore? And if so, why? Thanks to TV and, mostly, the internet, our cultural standards for taste and decorum have pretty much vanished over the past decade (exhibit A: reality TV. No more exhibits necessary), and I honestly can't say I've ever been too ruffled by someone's tasteless idea of a joke. Mostly it's because we've become so saturated with offensive humor, most of it just blends into the background (it's hard to imagine the days when Lenny Bruce would be hauled off to the pokey for his act).

Actress and "Jewish comedienne" Sarah Silverman has made something of a name for herself following in the footsteps of her "I'll say anything" forebears, filling her routine with explicit sex, vulgar language, and racial slurs. All three are on display in Jesus Is Magic, a concert film that combines her live act with pre-recorded bits.

After she starts off her routine with a Holocaust bit, you wonder if there's anywhere Silverman won't go. The answer is no. Sex jokes and racial humor are one thing, but it takes a certain chutzpah to kid over, let's say, rape ("I was raped by a doctor, which is so bittersweet for a Jewish woman."). She treads what you'd think would be dangerous ground with a bit on positive spin: "If American Airlines were smart, their slogan would be 'American Airlines—first through the towers'." September 11th was a devastating day for Silverman not only because of, you know, the whole terrorism thing. "It was also the day I found out the soy chai latte was like 900 calories. I had been drinking them every day. You hear soy, you think healthy, and it's a lie."

Those kinds of comments have drawn comparisons for her with Lenny Bruce, but Silverman is nowhere near as cutting or fearless. She's just got a filthy mouth and she's willing to say pretty much anything for a laugh. On her side: she's a total fox, and I probably wouldn't bat an eyelash if she confessed to eating babies right to my face ("Oh," I'd say, "How do they taste?"). Also, she's brilliant as a performer, with a deadpan, confessional style and wicked timing. She does this whole bit about how she wants people to see her for who she is—white—that you imagine would be horribly offensive coming out of anyone else's mouth. Instead, it's just sort of adorably scandalous, which brings me back to the point of this paragraph: Silverman's a funny gal, but let's not start casting for her version of Lenny anytime soon.

As a film, Jesus Is Magic is a little rough. For one thing, it's surprisingly short, with under an hour of her standup act padded out by around 20 minutes of songs and sketches. The offstage material doesn't really work. Silverman has a band and is a decent singer, but watching her belt out You're Going to Die Soon to a crowd of senior citizens isn't exactly the height of hilarity—there's more than a whiff of her Saturday Night Live days on display, with lyrics that seem half-written, at best. The movie is bookended by scenes that play up the image of Sarah Silverman as cutting edge star (first, she throws a tantrum about getting the wrong brand of bottled water backstage; later, she makes out with her own reflection in her dressing room) that don't really go anywhere.

Still, if Jesus Is Magic is a little sloppy as a movie, it's hard to ignore Silverman's gifts as a performer. She just needs a little more substance behind the shock value; a little more Lenny Bruce and a little less Andrew Dice Clay.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: This isn't exactly a pretty film, and it doesn't look all that great on DVD. The picture is clear enough, but has a grainy, digital appearance at times. Colors are somewhat dulled and muddy, and betray the digital video source material, conveying none of the depth or richness of film.

Image Transfer Grade: C+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The audio gets the job done. Sarah's routine is front and center, with audience reaction filling out the front soundstage and rear channels. Song segments take advantage of the 5.1 mix, too, and are supported by the surrounds.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 21 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Aristocrats
1 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Liam Lynch and Sarah Silverman
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Give the Jew Girl Toys music video
  2. Sarah Silverman scene from The Aristocrats
Extras Review: There's a pretty good selection of bonus materials here, especially considering the genre. Silverman and director Liam Lynch start things off with a decent commentary, talking about the movie's making and Silverman's style of humor in general terms. Lots of Silverman's humor is on display throughout.

The amusement continues with a 35-minute making-of featurette that's of the "fly on the wall" variety. There's a lot of great candid footage of Silverman goofing around on the set, most of which made me laugh more than her actual routine. There are a few scenes with her boyfriend Jimmy Kimmel, who talks about what it's like to have his girlfriend discuss their sex life on stage and screen (and, now and forever, on DVD). Note the fact that this piece is fully half as long as the actual feature.

Silverman makes some good arguments for the Jews' right to gifts from Santa in the song Give the Jew Girl Toys ("You've got as much to do with Jesus as you do with Scooby-Doo,") she tells the man in red). Aside from the trailer, there's also Silverman's show-stopping scene from The Aristocrats and an ad for the DVD of that film.

No subtitles, but the short feature is divided into a generous 21 chapter stops.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

A fitfully funny stand-up routine dragged down by a few songs and sketches that fall flat, Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic is best suited to those already fans of the filthy-mouthed Jewish comedienne.

("People are always introducing me as Sarah Silverman, Jewish comedienne. I hate that! I wish people would see me for who I really am. I'm white!")

 


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