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Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic (0/10)

by Tony Medley

“Chutzpah: Utter nerve, effrontery.” That’s this. Sarah Silverman is a standup wannabe. Problem is, she’s not funny. Oh, she thinks she’s funny. Director Liam Lynch thinks she’s funny. Producers Heide Herzon, Mark Williams and Randy Sosin think she’s funny. But they are voices laughing in the wilderness. Poor taste is no substitute for talent.

Maybe, just maybe, Sarah realizes she’s not funny. Because her shtick is scatological, sacrilegious, and demeaning to things and ideas of value. She apparently views herself as descended in a line from Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor. Bruce went to jail in order to preserve the right to use foul language and four letter words onstage. Pryor used them and didn’t have to go to jail. He went straight to the bank. But there is a big difference between Bruce and Pryor, on the one hand, and Silverman on the other. Bruce and Pryor were funny. They really didn’t have to use foul language to make people laugh. To their discredit,  they used foul language anyway. Why talented people want to stand for poor taste, low class and debasement of a beautiful language is beyond me.

Silverman, since she isn’t funny, uses her scatological and profane language as shock value, hoping people will laugh instead of run. In the film it sounded to me as if they had to insert a laugh track even though she was performing in front of a live audience, albeit captive.

The film starts out with a pedestrian scene in which Silverman is sitting with her sister and brother-in-law. They both reveal enormous success. Then it comes Silverman’s time to show and tell, so she says she’s got a big show that evening. She doesn’t, however, so she leaves. Somehow between that scene and the next, she has set it all up, with an auditorium, a big audience, no less, and costumes. Suddenly it’s that night and she’s onstage doing her show. The setup and the acting in this scene are sophomoric.

Then the real torture starts. We have to sit through her monologue. It is very long and singularly without humor. Debasing everything many people value is not funny.

As if what went before weren’t bad enough, Silverman closes her standup show with a sacrilegious rending of “Amazing Grace.” She has a nice singing voice, but the body language she uses during the song is disgraceful.

When I went into this movie I was thinking how nice that it was only 70 minutes long and anticipated it passing quickly.  But I squirmed and looked at my watch more often than I do in movies twice as long.

This production appeals to basest of instincts and is as crass as it could possibly be. Perhaps critics and audiences who say they like it have been raised on a steady diet of such political correctness that they see this rubbish as some sort of equalizing tour de force. Then, again, maybe they embrace it out of fear of not being in the mainstream of those who criticize everything that is good, uplifting, and moral. Regardless, there is no justifiable reason for producing such sleaze.

The language and the subject matter are disgusting. An effrontery to human decency, this is a film that is in such poor taste that it’s almost impossible to endure. I’ve seen worse movies, but not many. The next time I see the name “Sarah Silverman,” I’ll run the other way.

November 9, 2005