Who doesn’t seriously dig Neil Diamond? Come on, you know you do. And if one of your best buddies, who is also in a Neil Diamond cover band with you, suddenly fell for a woman that made him quit the band and burn his Neil albums, wouldn’t you just have to hate her and do anything to get your friend back? You now have the premise for 2001’s “Saving Silverman.”
Wayne (Steve Zahn), J.D. (Jack Black) and Darren (Jason Biggs) have been friends since they were kids. They grew up together and went down slightly different paths, but all stayed connected through their adolescent humor and passion for “the greatest songwriter-performer of this or any generation.” But when Darren meets Judith (Amanda Peet), he’s ready to give it all up for the girl.
She’s a control freak and a psychologist, which lends itself to her mastery of Darren’s entire being. After Wayne compares his and Judith’s similar careers — he’s in rodent and pest control and says they “both help people” — he attempts to buy her off with his house, but to no avail. He and J.D. agree the best idea is to kidnap her so she’ll be out of the picture.
Believing Judith will still come back, the distraught Darren won’t even look at another woman. So naturally, his buddies fake her death so he can go out with his recently reintroduced high-school fling, Sandy (Amanda Detmer). She loves Darren, but she’s a week away from taking her final vows to become a nun and not sure he’s ready for the commitment she needs.
When Darren finally realizes that Sandy is forever his “one and only” and they decide to live together, Judith manages to escape and go back to the man who worships the dirt she walks on. Wayne and J.D. obviously wind up in jail and Sandy heads back to the convent.
But three things stand in the way of this being the end of the film: R. Lee Ermey (the sergeant from “Full Metal Jacket,, in case you don’t know), love and Neil Diamond himself. Yes, Neil does sing, play guitar and perform for a mass audience. But my favorite part is a short bit in a van where when he hears of the love woes of Darren, he utters, “Love on the rocks, ain’t no big surprise.” And when pulling up to an appropriately named street for this film, he points and says, “Hey, we’re coming to America.” Brilliant, if you’re a Neil Diamond fan.
Definitely not the greatest film of all time, but it’s silly and fun with a little of the potty humor I tend to enjoy. Biggs really doesn’t do much for me since the first of the “American Pie” films, but Black and Ermey together are comic genius. I hope you enjoy.
• Ryan Messer has worked for years in local television and theater. He has contributed movie trivia to the On magazine Facebook page and displays a knowledge of cinema arcana that is just short of disturbing.