It's barely six weeks into 2001 and already there have been three "romantic comedies" virtually guaranteed to land on my worst 10 list at the end of the year.
"The Wedding Planner" was the kind of insultingly twinkly tripe that gives chick flicks a bad name. Worst list regular Freddie Prinze, Jr. secured his annual nod with the charmless "Head Over Heels." And now along comes "Saving Silverman," a battle-of-the-sexes burlesque so idiotic, contrived and inept that there's almost no chance a worse movie will be released all year.
The very concept of the story -- two slackers try to save a completely whipped buddy from marrying his harpy girlfriend -- demands utterly worthless characters to even get off the ground. Why should we bother rooting for some lily-livered bozo whose lips are so SuperGlued to his girlfriend's buttocks that he gives up his two best friends because she threatens to withhold sex if he doesn't?
More curious still is what this couple found attractive about each other in the first place. He's played by the physically off-putting Jason Biggs (also the star of last year's worst movie, "Loser") as a nervous, emasculated milksop who works as a social director at a retirement home. She is played by slinky Amanda Peet (who was good once, in "The Whole Nine Yards") as such a pushy, heartless, demeaning, controlling, scowling, frigid witch that even the most desperately lonely guy in the world would dump her just to get some peace.
Because he's too dumb to see for himself that marrying this girl is a bad idea -- he didn't propose, she did, and he's taking her last name -- it's up to his obnoxious, beer-swilling, slovenly slug pals Jack Black ("High Fidelity") and Steve Zahn ("Forces of Nature," "Out of Sight") to get him out of this mess.
Hired for their signature scene stealing abilities, these two character actors are wound up tight then left to their own devices, running amuck through a fatuous array of flimsy plot developments as they kidnap Peet, chain her in their basement, fake her death, and set Biggs up with his high school sweetheart (Amanda Detmer), the airheaded daughter in a family of circus freaks (no kidding) who has just returned to town to -- get this -- become a nun.
Packed wall to wall with inherent conceptual flaws (Two beautiful girls both want Jason Biggs? Puh-leaze!), grating characters, stale Benny Hill-style humor and simplistic stereotypes, it comes as no surprise that "Saving Silverman" is directed by Dennis Dugan -- a man responsible for such shallow and clodding comedies as "Big Daddy" and "Problem Child."
Entirely cliché- and gimmick-driven, this picture desperately milks every dumb plot device for cheap laughs that never come. Detmer runs around in a miniskirt habit while trying to decide if she should sleep with Biggs or join the convent. Peet's character is a $200-per-hour shrink (which in itself begs the question, why did she move into Bigg's place instead of the other way around?), so she uses simpleton psychology to outwit her already half-witted kidnappers. The three guys are Neil Diamond devotees, and Diamond embarrasses himself serenading Biggs in a stop-the-wedding cameo.
And all of this is just slapped together with so little regard for common sense or continuity that sometimes the movie doesn't even follow its own plot. Peet and Biggs meet when she goes to a nightclub to be alone and read a book. Huh? Later she declares she won't sleep with him before they're married. But a few scenes later she's withholding sex because he hasn't chosen her over his friends. Well? Which is it? Are they sleeping together or not?
But even if "Saving Silverman" wasn't tactless (Peet's ridiculous wardrobe is designed to draw attention to her constant bralessness), arduous, irritating, unoriginal, blunderingly directed and desperately unfunny, it would still have the enormous drag of its loathsome cast of characters -- especially the leads. Not only are Biggs and Peet entirely unsympathetic, but each has such a repulsive personality that you'll start to hope they'll each live the rest of their lives in solitary confinement, because you wouldn't wish these losers on anybody.
Run time: 90 mins
In Theaters: Friday 9th February 2001
Box Office USA: $19.0M
Box Office Worldwide: $19.4M
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Production compaines: Village Roadshow Pictures, Columbia Pictures Corporation, NPV Entertainment
Rotten Tomatoes: 18%
Fresh: 18 Rotten: 82
IMDB: 5.9 / 10
Director: Dennis Dugan
Starring: Jason Biggs as Darren Silverman, Steve Zahn as Wayne Lefessier, Jack Black as J.D. McNugent, Amanda Peet as Judith Fessbeggler, Amanda Detmer as Sandy, R. Lee Ermey as Coach, Neil Diamond as Himself, Kyle Gass as Bar Dude, Christopher Logan as Vageet, Colin Foo as Old Man