American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
"Saving Silverman" is so bad in so many different ways that perhaps you should see it, as an example of the lowest slopes of the bell-shaped curve. This is the kind of movie that gives even its defenders fits of desperation.
Consider my friend James Berardinelli, the best of the Web-based critics. No doubt 10 days of oxygen deprivation at the Sundance Film Festival helped inspire his three-star review, in which he reports optimistically, " `Saving Silverman' has its share of pratfalls and slapstick moments, but there's almost no flatulence." Here's a critical rule of thumb: You know you're in trouble when you're reduced to praising a movie for its absence of fart jokes, and have to add "almost." The movie is a male-bonding comedy in which three friends since grade school, now allegedly in their early 20s but looking in two cases suspiciously weathered for anyone under a hard-living 32, are threatened by a romance. Darren Silverman (Jason Biggs), Wayne Le Fessier (Steve Zahn) and J.D. McNugent (Jack Black) grew up together sharing a passion for the works of Neil Diamond; their sidewalk band, the Diamonds, performs his songs and then passes the hat.
The band is broken up, alas, when Darren is captured by Judith Snodgrass-Fessbeggler (Amanda Peet), a blond man-eater who immediately bans his friends and starts transforming him into a broken and tamed possession. "He's my puppet and I'm his puppet master!" she declares, proving that she is unfamiliar with the word mistress, which does not come as a surprise. In a movie so desperately in need of laughs, it's a mystery why the filmmakers didn't drag Ms. Snodgrass-Fessbeggler's parents onstage long enough to explain their decision to go with the hyphenated last name.
Wayne and J.D. concoct a desperate scheme to save Darren from marriage. They kidnap Judith, convince Darren she is dead and arrange for him to meet his first love, Sandy Perkus (Amanda Detmer), who is studying to be a nun. She hasn't yet taken her vows, especially the one of chastity, and is a major babe in her form-fitting novice's habit.