The late 90s and early 2000s were a period rich in general comedies like Man, where’s my car ?, Road Trip and Joe dirt. These films had a distinct personality that we don’t often have these days, as most films are grounded in a sense of reality. While I enjoy hilarious, realistic comedy, there’s a part of me that enjoys the utter ridiculousness of these adventures due to the unpredictable places they go in their predictable story structure. A personal favorite from this era is the 2001 comedy “We Must Save Our Friend from a Terrible Woman” Save Silverman. Jason Biggs was overcoming his role in the American pie movies and studios thought they could get this audience to follow them to an equally outrageous premise. While not high art, the film features a sympathetic support ensemble made up of Steve Zahn, Jack Black, and Amanda Peet. This movie was unimpressive at the box office and was ravaged by critics, but I know there must be other people in the world like me who never fail to find what to cry with laughs about here.
The principle is quite simple. Darren Silverman (Jason Biggs), Wayne LeFessier (Steve Zahn) and JD McNugent (Jack Black) have been best friends since fifth grade, and one of the united forces in their lives is their love for Neil Diamond. The trio have stuck together over the years through thick and thin, and they’ve even gone so far as to form a Neil Diamond tribute band. Darren has always been the hopeless romantic of the always heartbroken group. His “one” true love, Sandy Perkus (Amanda Detmer), moved with his family before he had the courage to tell them how he felt, and he’s been hopelessly in love ever since. That changes when Wayne pressures Darren to talk to a beautiful psychologist, Judith Fessbeggler (Amanda Peet), in a bar that starts out rocky but ends up turning into something. We’ll soon learn that despite the gorgeous exterior, Judith is an emotionally abusive girlfriend who views Darren more as property than boyfriend.
While the love-hungry Darren may not be able to see his toxic relationship clearly, Wayne and JD spot what is going on and do everything in their power to get her to leave Darren alone. When that fails, they take the drastic step of kidnapping him and ultimately staging his death in the hopes that Darren will move on. See, this plot has really taken a turn, hasn’t it? There is no sane reality in which this narrative exists, and I totally agree with that. Steve Zahn and Jack Black do a lot of the groundwork to garner the movie’s biggest laughs. Both as kidnappers and as functional humans, the couple have more hearts than brains, but that leads to many of the movie’s funniest and most ridiculous lines. If we’re being honest, there are a lot of problematic elements that don’t fit together, especially from a modern point of view, but there are lines that still cause a thunderous laugh 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, like the return of Sandy Perkus to Darren’s life accompanying the news that she is in training to be a nun. The chemistry between the two is quite nice and you will find yourself supporting them even though in your heart you know that she will never become a nun. Points should be given for the conscious nod to the exaggerated nature of certain scenes like a group of nuns in a weightlifting hall. We’d also be remiss if we didn’t at least mention the great R. Lee Ermy (Full Metal Jacket) as a football coach turned killer (unintentionally, naturally) who offers not-so-wise advice to burgeoning prison kidnappers. The film takes place at a brisk pace and rarely experiences a significant lag between laughs. The movie couldn’t be more predictable in its history, but that’s part of the charm of this type of movie. With enjoyable performances and a wide array of jokes, this movie is like a cinematic comfort food.
Save Silverman gets a modest upgrade to Blu-Ray courtesy of Mill Creek Entertainment, but it comes with a lot of issues that could have been partially avoided. The transfer is from an older master provided by Columbia Pictures for its Blu-Ray debut. The biggest issue with this disc isn’t the occasional blemish of damage to the print, but rather the ugly compression artifacts and the occasional macroblock that plagues most of the movie. The presentation struggles with the texture details as the picture looks a bit soft. The colors are one of the most standout aspects of the record, as there are so many colorful places and outfits that impress wonderfully. Skin tones generally appear natural, but the presentation offers fairly low black levels. The record knows a good dose of black crush which can be unsightly. Mill Creek Entertainment has provided a Blu-Ray disc which is a step up from DVD, but not the massive improvement you might expect from a dated master and compression issues.
The movie comes with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track which feels weak and out of place given that all signs point to it having a 5.1 theatrical mix. The main track transmits everything it needs efficiently, it just seems like the world isn’t as rugged as it could be. The dialogue is mostly crisp and clear, with only a few moments where it is overwhelmed by competing sounds. The movie can get quite vivid and bombastic, and it doesn’t always hold up with perfect fidelity. This movie isn’t an action powerhouse, but it deserved a stronger audio presentation than here. Mill Creek Entertainment delivered a disappointing lead for a film that should have been easy to make. There are at least optional English subtitles for those who wish.
There are no special features provided on this disc.
Save Silverman is a holdover from that era of great studio comedies that were hugely prevalent back then, and it stands as one of the best. The movie has a lot of dated and problematic elements to it, but it’s also hilarious most of the time, even on repeated viewings. The actors really blackmail this one because of their total commitment to the story. It’s not at all believable, but it will make you laugh. Mill Creek Entertainment has released a Blu-Ray that features a disappointing A / V presentation and no special features. Fans of the film will see this as an improvement over the DVD, but it could have been better for them.
Save Silverman is currently available for purchase on Blu-Ray.
Note: The images shown in this review do not reflect the picture quality of Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: Mill Creek Entertainment has provided a free copy of this disc for review. All opinions in this review are honest feedback from the author.
Dillon is more comfortable sitting in a movie theater all day watching both big budget and independent films.