The late 90s and early 2000s were a time rich with broad comedies like Dude, Where’s My Car?, Road Trip and Joe Dirt. These movies had a distinct personality that we do not often get these days, as most movies are grounded in a sense of reality. While I appreciate a hilarious, realistic comedy, there is a part of me that loves the utter ridiculousness of these adventures due to the unpredictable places they go within their predictable story structure. One personal favorite from this era is the 2001 “we have to rescue our friend from a terrible woman” comedy Saving Silverman. Jason Biggs was riding high off his role in the American Pie movies, and studios believed they could make that audience follow him over to a similarly outrageous premise. While not high art, the film features a likable supporting ensemble in Steve Zahn, Jack Black and Amanda Peet. This film was unimpressive at the box office and was ravaged by critics, but I know there has to be other people in the world like me who never fail to find something to cry laughing at in here.
The premise is straightforward enough. Darren Silverman (Jason Biggs), Wayne LeFessier (Steve Zahn), and J.D. McNugent (Jack Black) have been best friends since fifth grade, and one of the uniting forces in their lives is their love of Neil Diamond. The trio have stuck together over the years through thick and thin, and they even went as far as forming a Neil Diamond tribute band. Darren has always been the hopeless romantic of the group who has consistently gotten his heart broken. His “one and only” true love, Sandy Perkus (Amanda Detmer), moved away with her family before he could gather the nerve to tell her how he felt, and ever since he has been hopeless in love. This changes when Wayne pressures Darren into talking to a beautiful psychologist, Judith Fessbeggler (Amanda Peet), at a bar which starts off rocky but eventually turns into something. We will soon come to learn that despite the gorgeous exterior, Judith is an emotionally abusive girlfriend who views Darren more as property than a boyfriend.
While love-starved Darren might not be able to see his toxic relationship clearly, Wayne and J.D. spot what is happening and do everything in their power to get her to leave Darren alone. When that fails, they take the drastic measure of kidnapping her and ultimately staging her death in hopes that Darren will move on. You see, that plot really took a turn, didn’t it? There is no sane reality in which this narrative exists, and I am perfectly okay with that. Steve Zahn and Jack Black do much of the major legwork to garner the biggest laughs in the film. Both as kidnappers and as functioning human beings, the pair have more heart than brains, but this leads to many of the funniest, most ridiculous lines in the film. If we are being honest, there are many problematic elements that do not sit right especially through a modern viewpoint, but there are lines that still bring about uproarious laughter even if you feel bad about it. The dynamic between the guys and a captive Judith is the perfect setup for comedic gold.
Other elements outside of the kidnapping are just as random and unconventional, such as the return of Sandy Perkus into Darren’s life which comes with the news that she is in training to become a nun. The chemistry between the two is quite nice and you will find yourself rooting for them even if in your heart you know that she is never going to become a nun. Points have to be given to the knowing-nod to the over-the-top nature of certain scenes such as a group of nuns in a weight-lifting room. We would also be remiss if we did not at least mention the great R. Lee Ermy (Full Metal Jacket) as a football coach turned killer (unintentional, naturally) that offers up some not-so-sage advice to the burgeoning kidnappers from prison. The movie rolls along at a spritely pace and rarely experiences major lag between laughs. The film could not be more predictable in its story beats, but that is part of the charm of this type of film. With enjoyable performances and a solid array of jokes throughout, this film acts as something akin to cinematic comfort food.
Saving Silverman gets a modest upgrade to Blu-Ray courtesy of Mill Creek Entertainment, but with it comes many issues that could have been avoided in parts. The transfer is sourced from a decent older master provided by Columbia Pictures for its Blu-Ray debut. The biggest issue with this disc is not the occasional speck of damage to the print, but rather the ugly compression artifacts and occasional macroblocking that plague most of the film. The presentation struggles when it comes to textural detail as the image presents as a bit soft throughout. The colors are one of the standout aspects of the disc, as many of the colorful locations and outfits wow pretty splendidly. Skin tones mostly look natural, but the presentation offers up some fairly weak black levels. The disc experiences a fair amount of black crush that can be unsightly. Mill Creek Entertainment has provided a Blu-Ray disc that is a step up from DVD, but not the massive improvement you might expect thanks to a dated master and compression issues.
The film comes with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track that seems weak and out of place given that all signs point to it having a 5.1 mix theatrically. The core track conveys everything it needs to effectively, it just seems like the world is not as robust as it could be. Dialogue mostly comes through crisp and clear with only a few moments when it gets overwhelmed by competing sounds. The movie can get quite lively and bombastic, and it does not always hold together with perfect fidelity. This movie is not an action powerhouse, but it deserved a stronger audio presentation than it got here. Mill Creek Entertainment has delivered an underwhelming track for a film that should have been easy to bring to life. There are at least optional English subtitles for those who desire them.
There are no special features provided on this disc.
Saving Silverman is a remnant of this era of broad studio comedies that were extremely prevalent at this time, and it holds up as one of the better ones. There are many dated and problematic elements to the film, but it is also laugh-out-loud hilarious much of the time even upon repeat viewings. The cast really makes this one sing due to their complete commitment to the story. It is not believable in the slightest, but it will make you laugh. Mill Creek Entertainment has released a Blu-Ray that sports a disappointing A/V presentation and no special features. Fans of the film will mark this as an improvement over the DVD, but this could have been better for them.
Saving Silverman is currently available to purchase on Blu-Ray.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: Mill Creek Entertainment has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.