Lump of Coal

Silverman's bitter "comedy" is enough to make you turn off your heartlight

Were it not for the presence of Black, who swipes any scene in which he shows his elastic mug, Saving Silverman would be the kind of comedy you forget while you're watching it. As J.D., one third of this trio of childhood pals who grow older without ever actually growing up, Black is both Harpo Marx and John Belushi--hysterical when silent, amusing when roaring. (Like Belushi in Animal House, Black doesn't walk so much as he bounces from place to place.) The movie's smart enough, at least, to make some use of Black, who's never tried harder to be more likable--which is actually one of the film's biggest flaws; no one this funny should have to strain for laughs. Here, he gets to play both an aspiring musician who's half as good as he thinks he is (recalling Black's role in faux-folk duo Tenacious D) and the loudmouth who lacks internal monologue (J.D. is, frustratingly, a dumbed-down, slobbed-out version of his record-store clerk in High Fidelity). But not even Black, possessor of the world's most devilish smirk, can elevate such mundane material. It's like asking one man to lift a sunken car off the bottom of a lake.

Song sung blue: From left, Neil Diamond, Jason Biggs, Jack Black, and Steve Zahn in Saving Silverman.
Song sung blue: From left, Neil Diamond, Jason Biggs, Jack Black, and Steve Zahn in Saving Silverman.

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