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'Saving Silverman'

Crude humor and hackneyed script sink 'Saving Silverman'

Friday, February 09, 2001

By Barry Paris, Post-Gazette Movie Critic

Wayne and J.D. have been Darren Silverman's best pals since fifth grade, and they're not gonna let some dumb girl -- let alone a smart one -- break up their trio.

'Saving Silverman'

RATING: PG-13 for crude sexual humor and language

STARRING: Jason Biggs, Steve Zahn, Jack Black, Amanda Peet, Neil Diamond

DIRECTOR: Dennis Dugan

WEB SITE: www.savingsilver



She would be doing the world a favor, since the trio is musical as well as testosterous: Obsessed with Neil Diamond, the boys have a bad rhinestone band ("Diamonds in the Rough") that is also dissolving with Silverman's romance.

Jason Biggs plays the straight title role, and Steve Zahn and Jack Black the dorky dudes, in "Saving Silverman," an adolescent comedy by un-deft director Dennis Dugan. Amanda Peet is the sexy "relationship counselor" psychologist who sinks her sharp claws into Silverman ("Don't make me take away your masturbation privileges!") and her sharp tongue into his buddies, whose solution is to kidnap her and stage her "death" to make their pal forget her and return to the arms of his harmless high-school sweetie (Amanda Detmer), who is about to take her vows as a nun.

There was nothing very funny about Zahn's comic turn in "Happy, Texas," and no more visible comic genius in him here. Even fewer laughs are to be found in the insufferable slapstick burlesque of fat Jack Black.

Director Dugan has been the maker of such Adam Sandler vehicle films as "Big Daddy" and "Happy Gilmore," which were entertaining, if you like Sandler -- which I do. Jason Biggs ("American Pie") is a Sandler look-alike, but there the similarities end. With its crude sexist humor and hackneyed plot by first-time screenwriters Hank Nelken and Greg DePaul, "Saving Silverman" is beyond any army's salvation.

The presumably surefire gimmick here is Neil Diamond "as himself" (who else would he be? Mick Jagger?) in his first movie gig in 20 years, since "The Jazz Singer" -- truly a breath of stale air. Mark your calendar: Diamond's next appearance, by my calculation, will be in 2021.

Not a moment too soon.

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