When the director of “Big Daddy,” “Happy Gilmore” and “Problem Child” comes up with another film, you know what to expect – stupidity galore, cliches aplenty and few laughs.
Even though the writers of “Saving Silverman,” Hank Nelken and Greg Depaul, haven’t any other feature films to their credit, its content indicates they’ve studied the films of the “Saturday Night Live” castaways, particularly Adam Sandler and David Spade.
Nelken and Depaul use every bad comedy cliche in the book, including falls from heights, animal attacks, gay characters, a bubble-headed sap, obnoxiously stupid characters, continual references to a pop icon and a sacharine-laced love interest.
“Saving Silverman” refers to the commandolike lengths two men go to in order to get their friend, Darren Silverman (Jason Biggs), away from Judith (Amanda Peet), a man-eating manipulator.
Rodent remover Wayne (Steve Zahn), Subway employee JD (Jack Black) and recreation coordinator for seniors Darren entertain themselves by spraying each other with beer, watching football and playing in the Neil Diamond tribute band, Diamond in the Rough.
But then Judith comes along.
Once she witnesses the grotesque antics of his friends – they sling her out a recliner, which covers her in salsa and beer – she forbids Darren from ever seeing them again. This self-proclaimed puppet master seals the trio’s fate when she asks Darren to marry her.
Wayne and JD decide enough is enough.
They kidnap her in the night and leave behind a message for their misguided friend, telling him she’s gone for good. But Darren is hopeful. As long as she’s alive, he explains, there is a chance.
The only way he will consider dating someone new is if Judith is dead. So, Wayne and JD dig up a woman’s grave, put the body in Judith’s car and push it off a hill. (Naturally, it blows up upon impact.)
With Judith apparently dead, Darren reluctantly agrees to go out with Sandy (Amanda Detmer), his one-and-only from high school. Their mutual appreciation of Diamond’s music brings them closer together, but then Judith reappears.
Which woman will Darren choose?
After enduring the mind-numbing drivel for this long, you really don’t care, just as long as he does it quickly, so you can go home.
Director Dennis Dugan isn’t too worried about repeating himself. Just compare “Saving Silverman” with “Big Daddy,” and about all that’s missing is a small child who wets his bed.
“Saving Silverman” can best be described as a low B film that miraculously attracted A-level talent.
Zahn needs to stop wasting his time with this kind of material. He showed audiences he had comic talent with “Out of Sight” and in “Happy Texas.” He just needs better scripts (do these exist anymore?).
With his Belushi like gifts, Black can easily steal a film. He was a welcome diversion in “Jesus’ Son” and made audiences sit up and take notice in “High Fidelity.”
With his manic energy, witty tongue and whole-body approach to acting, he’s a star on the brink of something bigger. Unless he finds himself typecast.
In “Saving Silverman,” R. Lee Ermey plays the homicidal coach. Audiences will remember him as the voice of Sarge in “Toy Story” or as a military man in about anything else. As an actor, he’s rubbed shoulders with Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Spacey. So what happened here? To his credit, he infuses his scenes with some energy and merits some laughs.
With her toothy smile, brunette to red hair and noticeable enthusiasm, Peet seems a poor man’s Julia Roberts. Or Roberts with a psychological disorder. Peet has played the castrating vixen before in the box office bomb “Whipped,” but her other most memorable role was as a dental assistant enamored with Bruce Willis in “Whole Nine Yards.”
If anything can be said of Peet’s talent, in “Silverman,” she makes you wish someone would go homicidal.
Big blue eyes, blond curly hair, cheerleader looks and a sweeter than candy disposition describes Detmer. The only problem is that also characterizes about 99 percent of Hollywood’s younger crop. It’s getting so bad, I couldn’t remember which teen horror flick I saw her in. (Answer: “Final Destination.”)
Biggs has a hard to place charm that may or may not work. In “Loser,” it did. Here, it didn’t. His character is so nauseatingly clueless, you’ll have little pity for him. Where is a dog or bear attack when you need it?
Once the credits started rolling for “Saving Silverman,” I noticed an odd thing. Even though this film is aimed at 14- to 17-year-olds, several seniors were in attendance. Was it because of the crooner of crooners, Neil Diamond? (The trailers prominently feature the singer.)
If so, I can imagine their disappointment when they see Diamond’s screen time amounts to about 3 minutes. And, even then, he looks a little befuddled. Is this what becomes of our aging pop idols?
All around, “Saving Silverman” is a truly sad state of affairs.
But that’s not the worst of it. From the trailers, it seems more films as inane as this one are winging their way to the cineplex, such as Tom Green’s “Freddy Got Fingered,” Kevin Costner’s “3,000 Miles to Graceland,” Brendan Fraser’s “Monkeybone,” David Spade’s “Joe Dirt” and Chris Rock’s “Down to Earth.”
And everyone said last year was bad.