First off, don't expect me to feel any "obligation" to praise the movie "Saving Silverman" just because I'm a Neil-fan. I don't operate that way. I call things the way I see it, and I don't intend to start doing anything differently now.
I must say that "Saving Silverman" isn't as bad as a lot of the mainstream newspaper critics say it is, and it certainly doesn't deserve that foul-language vitriol that it got from a certain website (which shall be un-named).
At best, it's a low-to-middling mindless comedy that will quickly fade from public memory and end up on video- mark my words. It'll make a fast exit from first-run theaters and end up at your local double-feature drive-in... soon, Then we have its imminent video release to look forwards to... so we can shell out a whole 20 bucks to see it again.
The only reason that I had bothered to see it was to find out how Neil Diamond figures into the plot. The first scenes were probably the best- spiffed-up, enhanced video footage of a young Neil from "Love at the Greek" which is really from 1976, not 1972, as the movie said. Lose 1 point for historical inaccuracy. One of the guys was born at that concert (his Mom broke her water while dancing to "Holly Holy"). Then we get to see the life story of 3 losers, Darren Silverman and his pals, Wayne (who I shall call "Weasel-Boy" from now on) and JD (who I shall call "DABOR" "dumb as a box of rocks" from now on). They had grown up together and are now working in dead-end jobs (retirement home worker, furry pest exterminator and Subway sandwiches counter boy, respectively). Makes you wonder how these guys can make ends meet. On second thought, maybe they SHOULD have said that the Neil concert was from 1976, after all. It might be more plausible if the losers were 24, not 28. Get real... most 28 year olds aren't like that!
So, we see the losers in a mildly amusing scene where they wear 1972-era Neil Diamond wigs and sparkly shirts and perform Neil song covers for loose change. After they pack up, they go to a bar, and meet Judith, a somewhat domineering and stuck-up psychotherapist. Silverman sort-of hits off with her (she probably has her own ulterior motives for taking him on as a boyfriend). Silverman convinces her to meet his pals at their home, and in one of the movie's better scenes, they show her their collection of Neil memorabilia, which includes one of Diamond's sparkly shirts in a glass case (which plays a muzak version of "Sweet Caroline") and a life-sized cardboard stand-up of Neil, circa 1972 (which they date as being from 1974). Oops! Minus another point for more historical inaccuracy. Did they even consider running this by a real Neil fan who could have advised them of these mistakes? Well, duh!
The boys also relate their last encounter with Neil, which resulted in a restraining order. DABOR jumps the barricades after a Neil concert when Neil is leaving, dives at him, hugs him and says "I love you, Neil", while the security guards pull him off. Neil shakes his head in befuddlement as he goes into the limo.
The boys' idiotic and slob ways (including a broken chair, spilled salsa and a beer bath) cause Judith to leave in disgust. She demands that Silverman should stop seeing his friends and she makes him burn his Neil Diamond records. Then she demands that he get butt-cheek implants, in one of the movie's most disgusting scenes. Silverman caters to her every whim, and so shall be called "Super-Wuss" from here onwards and announces that he will marry Judith. His pals try to save him from himself. The arrival of Sandy, Super-Wuss' old high-school flame gives them an idea... how 'bout breaking up Judith and Super-Wuss and fixing him up with Sandy? Doesn't matter that Sandy is going to take her vows to become a nun next week.
So they break into her house and kidnap Judith. She puts up a terrific fight. Being that the guys are so inept, unsympathetic and downright stupid, I was almost rooting for strong, resourceful, determined and ass-kickin' Judith. But, it was her fate to get kidnapped, and locked in their basement, a la "Ruthless People" (a far better film). They still have to bring her food, so DABOR dresses up in a chicken outfit to feed her. She cleverly engages him in a brief conversation, and maneuvers him into revealing his real identity. Hmmm... well, now, Judith is SMART, as well as strong, resourceful and ass-kickin'. I think I like her. The fact that DABOR is such a brainless moron makes me root for her even more.
Now the boys are in deep doo-doo. She knows who they are. If they let her go, she'll have them arrested. They visit their old coach in prison (years ago, he threw a flag like a javelin at a referee and killed him), and he simply tells them to "kill her". They don't really want to do that, so they decide to fake her death.
Now, they have to convince Super-Wuss that Judith had died. So they dig up the grave of a recently-deceased young lady and push it over a cliff in Judith's car. It goes down in flames, and the police accept it as an accidental death. The newscast notes in an UNRELATED story that there was a grave robbing. Uh huh... all of a sudden they don't check DENTAL RECORDS to verify the identity of people who die in fiery car accidents. Yeah, right...
Super-Wuss and Sandy start to "fall in love" now that Judith is out of the picture. It appears that SHE'S a Neil-Fan, too! She can sing "Hello Again". But, from what I see, there is no real "spark" between them... this is all done for plot convenience, I guess. Really, with no chemistry between them, the wooden "I Love You"s that Super-Wuss and Sandy exchange just fall flat. Not believable at all. Even Jess and Molly from "The Jazz Singer" look more convincing than THAT.
Strong, resourceful Judith plays on DABOR and Weasel-Boy's weaknesses. She convinces DABOR that he's gay and escapes. So the idiots go chasing after her, and in amusing scene #3, Weasel-Boy shoots her with a tranquilizer dart in front of a police station. He throws a tarp over her and tells the cops that he just shot a "wild goat that escaped from the zoo". The cops nod and walk off.
Judith escapes again when the idiots get distracted while answering the door. It looks like ol' coach has just been released from prison and he's looking for a place to stay. Free again, Judith seizes control of the situation (as she is wont to do). She catches Super-Wuss in a compromising moment with Sandy, and through sheer force of will, she makes Super-Wuss agree to go through with their wedding, and gets Sandy to take a hike. Sandy goes back to the nunnery.
Now Weasel-Boy and DABOR are desperate. They get to the nunnery just in time to stop Sandy from taking her vows. She joins them in their truck to help get Super-Wuss back. They get Sandy to dress up like a hooker so they can crash the wedding. Wait a minute! Girl who wanted to be a nun, and changes her mind so she can marry the man she loves... doesn't this remind you of "The Sound of Music"? Except you wouldn't imagine Julie Andrews wearing Hooker-Wear (tm).
The bozos need just one more little thing to pull off the rescue. They drive to an arena and run inside through an "Authorized Personnel Only" door and come out with something wrapped in a tarp. That something turns out to be Neil Diamond himself! Oh yeah! It's a piece o' cake to kidnap Neil Diamond from your local arena! Wanna see Neil up close? Just walk through the back door, no security, mind you, and grab him! *GROAN!*
They manage to arrive at the wedding just in time. Sandy distracts Super-Wuss by singing "Hello Again". Neil picks up the song, and mesmerizes the wedding party by singing it from the balcony. Sandy ends up with Super-Wuss, and for some reason, Judith and Weasel-Boy hit off, and newly out-of-the-closet DABOR finds his first love in good ol' coach. There's a triple wedding, and everyone attends the finale, a Neil concert, with the nitwits onstage with the real Neil. They all sing "Holly Holy" and Neil looks like he's really enjoying himself. But here's where I become the party-pooper AGAIN. The performance is a lip sync from Live In America, and I had always rated that album poorly because of Neil's bad singing on it. It doesn't sound any better here- it's still bad, but at least we have the visuals of Neil having some fun. Still, that isn't ever going to make me forget that spellbinding 1976 video performance from Australia, or even the one shown at the beginning of this movie, from "Love at the Greek".
Neil's new song "I Believe in Happy Endings" is played over the ending credits of the movie. Everyone in the half-filled theater has already left. I'm the only patron left in the whole theater. The only other person is the clean-up guy, waiting for the lights to come on. Sheesh! Was I the only true Neil fan in the whole house? The only one who really "got" those in-jokes about Neil, and chuckled at the absurdity of the boys' obsession with Neil and their house decorating? Was this because I knew and understood Neil fans, and I recognized a lot of US (the obsessive collectors) in them?
The movie isn't putrid, or a complete waste
of 90 minutes of my life. There were some amusing moments, and the juvenile
butt humor and masturbation jokes weren't too frequent, so it probably
was rated correctly at PG-13. I don't foresee me ever PAYING to see it
again, be it in a theater or as a video rental. Maybe it'll appear on FOX,
or on the USA Network in a year or two. I'll catch it then...
Scenes we'd love to see in "Saving Silverman"
How to Make Your Own Neil Diamond Life-Sized Standup
This article is Copyright 2001, K.F. Louie. May not be reproduced without the written permission of the author.
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