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Tuesday March 28th

Film Flaunts Cheap Humor, Revealingly Clad Actress

Saving Silverman

3 Stars

It's a story as old as time itself. Guy meets girl. Guy proposes to girl. Guy's friends kidnap girl.

Oh yeah, guy and guy's friends idolize Neil Diamond.

Well, maybe it's not the most traditional love story, but it's the story of "Saving Silverman," the new comedy from director Dennis Dugan -- the very same man who brought us such juvenile favorites as "Happy Gilmore" and "Big Daddy."

The movie stars America's favorite dessert-sodomizing loser, Jason Biggs, as Darren Silverman, the patsy with the heart of gold. He falls for Judith, a domineering, manipulative demon of a fiancee, played by Amanda Peet.

Spicing up the story are Silverman's two best buddies, Wayne and J.D., brought to life by the consistently hilarious Steve Zahn ("Happy, Texas") and Jack Black ("High Fidelity"), respectively.

As mentioned, the duo attempts to rescue their friend from a life of marital servitude by kidnapping Judith, tying her up in their garage and making her wear extremely revealing clothing throughout the entire movie (the last part may have been the producer's idea, actually).

The movie has already been slammed by critics for its uncanny resemblance to "There's Something About Mary," coupled with its allegedly more offensive and more juvenile humor. Many argue that whereas "Mary"'s humor was good-natured, "Silverman"'s is tasteless and misogynistic.

It's a tough call. Yes, some of the gags do have a Mary-esque odor to them, and yes, some of the jokes will piss off some people, but to say that "Mary"'s frank-and-beans jokes are any less tasteless than "Silverman"'s flaming nipples gags is to kiss the Farrelly brothers' asses undeservedly. "Mary" did have a certain indescribable charm to it, but let's call a spade a spade here. Jizz-in-the-hair scenes are still jizz-in-the-hair scenes -- no more, no less.

Arguments aside, "Silverman," like "Mary," will leave you with a guilty stitch in your side from all those shameful laughs.

As for the writing, the script is formulaic and predictable. There's the obligatory retro-reference, in this case to Neil Diamond, that piles on the kitsch with so-stupid-you-have-to-laugh jokes (like Diamond himself noting as they approach America Avenue, "We're coming to America").

There's the goofy buddy humor of Zahn and Black, which, though terribly underutilized, still accounts for nearly 93 percent of the film's laughs.

There's the not-so-surprising happy ending of the obvious couple, the unlikely couple, and the ridiculous couple, a la "Billy Madison" and "Happy Gilmore."

The only real surprise is that, with all this predictability, I still laughed my ass off. Be warned, however -- I'm not too proud to say that I also loved "Billy Madison," so judge accordingly.

If cheap gags, slapstick humor and borderline offensive jokes aren't your thing, you might want to skip "Silverman." It's the intellectual equivalent of "America's Funniest Home Videos."

But for those who can appreciate the simple pleasures of a good baseball-bat-to-the-crotch clip, "Saving Silverman" is a must-see.

The Arts & Entertainment Editor

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