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SARAH SILVERMAN: JESUS IS MAGIC (R) (2005)

Black Gold Films

Official Site

Director: Liam Lynch

Producers: Heidi Herzon, Randy Sosin, Mark Williams

Written by: Sarah Silverman

Cast: Sarah Silverman, Bob Odenkirk, Brian Posehn, Laura Silverman

Rating:


This movie was really hard for me to review. Not that Sarah Silverman isn’t funny—she is. It was just that something about the whole movie felt off. It felt padded and thin. I wanted to like it more than I did.

I’m getting ahead of myself here. First off, to the uninitiated, Sarah Silverman may come off as one of the crassest, rudest comedians out there, a judgment she would probably revel in. Her whole act (some would say it’s a schtick or a gimmick) revolves around the fact that she is an attractive, classy-looking woman with audaciously unattractive things coming out of her mouth. Downright vulgarities, if you will.

These aren’t your normal, fuck-laden comments. Oh no, that would be too simple. A sample of her delights:

“A couple nights ago, I was licking jelly off my boyfriend’s penis. And I thought, “Oh my God—I’m turning into my mother!’”

“I was raped by a doctor... which is so bittersweet for a Jewish girl.”

“I always think I should get on it if I want to have kids. Because once you hit thirty it can be difficult to conceive—it can be dangerous. The best time to conceive is when you’re a black teenager.”

To the easily offended, this would set off a red flag. It wouldn’t be the first time people have called her a racist—ask Guy Aoki, president of an Asian-American watchdog group. Apparently, Silverman cannot declare her love of “Chinks” after all.

However, I am not easily offended, so I find her material quite funny. You see, as a teenager I was weaned on the odd sensibilities of “Kids in the Hall” and “Strangers with Candy.” I’ve always adhered to the idea that life is too short to get offended.

Moreover, to be offended by Silverman’s work is to ignore her considerable charm and the ironic way in which she delivers her material. She doesn’t believe the things she says; instead, she pokes fun at people who actually do think like that. With a tilt of her head and a coy half-grin she’ll spit one out about the holocaust. Best described as a sweeter, softer Lenny Bruce, Silverman isn’t meant for people who religiously watched “Everybody Loves Raymond” or who find “Joey” the height of humor. Not everyone likes her, and she doesn’t really care.

Clearly the problem with the movie isn’t Sarah Silverman’s stand-up material. It’s Liam Lynch’s direction. Herky-jerky, a little pointless, and pretty amateurish, Lynch doesn’t know how to create a flow. Silverman and Lynch seem to want to fashion a pseudo-vaudevillian atmosphere, in which the stand-up and the song portion create a surreal, “Laugh-In” type experience. While it is mildly amusing to see Silverman, dressed like an extra from “The Partridge Family” and singing about... love, getting into a stare-off with two gang members she offended with her use of a certain “n-word,” it still isn’t as funny as Sarah being Sarah. The Sarah who riffs about the true tragedy of 9/11, the day she learned her soy chai latte was 900 calories, is funny. The Sarah singing a song that asks porn stars, “Do you ever take drugs / so that you can have sex without crying?” Not funny, but definitely discomfiting. Maybe if Liam Lynch’s editing and camerawork rose above the level of a guy with a pretty good editing program and a mouse, it might have worked. Lynch and Silverman need to learn that there’s no shame in doing a straightforward stand-up comedy film. Ask George Carlin, Richard Pryor, or Eddie Murphy.

Jesus Is Magic would probably have been better served as a stand-up movie on cable. Without the song numbers, the film probably would have run a whopping 45 minutes—perfect for an hour-long Comedy Central special. I wonder if they would have kept the three orifice trio (mouth, vagina, and anus) singing “Amazing Grace”?

—Rachel Mehendale

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



Pink Floyd

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