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Why this film’s title was changed from Saving Silverman to Evil Woman in Australia during its theatrical run is beyond me. The former title is a much more creative and appropriate heading for the film. But Aussies are stuck with the latter in a film about two boys who try to save their pal Silverman because of his dreadful relationship with one Evil Woman.

Movie

Evil Woman wins the prize for having the most typecast actors in its line-up. No less than all five main characters slot straight into roles they have played at least twice before. Take main man Darren Silverman. He’s a pretty nice guy, has a couple of loyal friends, but is generally unlucky with the ladies. Of course, no one could have played this role better than a young guy who made his name being an out-of-luck teenager; Jason Biggs. Like American Pie and Loser before it, Evil Woman gives Biggs a chance to cruise through another similar role that would surely harm his chances of playing someone even remotely different in the future.

Jack Black and Steve Zahn are other perfect examples. They play Silverman’s buddies and don’t stretch their range past what audiences have seen many times before from these two. Black made his name as the off-the-wall nutter in films such as the underrated High Fidelity and his role in this film isn’t all that different. Zahn, on the other hand, has again chosen to play the stupid friend who shows his feelings towards the finale. Take a look at Suburbia to see this has all been done before.

But wait, there’s more. Even the girls have been typecast, which is probably even less remarkable considering some of the casting choice in Hollywood films of late. Amanda Peet does a decent reprisal of her character in Whipped, portraying the manipulative piece of eye candy who ends up being tougher than some of the boys. Again she is used to pump up the sex appeal of the flick, with some of the most ridiculously gratuitous costumes of recent times draped over her body throughout. And to top it all off Amanda Detmer is given another token blonde role, though admittedly she plays this one quite well. Plus she’s a bit of a hottie, so points are scored on that front. One can’t help but think the script was written with only these five actors in mind. Hmmmmm.

"Good lord!"

The story is a pretty simple one, not surprising for a light comedy such as this one. Early on in the piece Darren Silverman is set up with a good-looking girl by his two best friends from high school. The three boys are particularly close and even play in a Neil Diamond cover band. The popular singer is loosely tied into the story for a few more laughs, resulting in a cameo by the man himself towards the end of the flick. Neil has the ability to help any given situation. Darren and Judith’s predicament is no exception.

Initially Judith isn’t all that keen on Darren but with a stroke of luck our man manages to hold on to this very attractive young woman. But it soon becomes apparent that Judith is merely using Darren as a “puppet”, her being the “puppet master”. Wayne and JD somehow manage to put their puny minds together and realise that she’s not at all good for their pal and decide to do something about it. Cue a kidnap attempt, a set up date between Darren and his soon-to-be nun childhood crush and a whole bunch of biffo and underwear.

Somehow this film works. The opening five minutes are just an excuse to put a bunch of funny little skits together but they are quite effective nonetheless. There’s a few major holes in the story that are overlooked in favour of using Black and Zahn’s comedic talents to the fullest. Peet has chosen a better film to play the manipulator rather than the mediocre Whipped, while Detmer is good value as the “other woman”. Once again Jason Biggs isn’t required to work very hard with this character and he’s probably finding these acting gigs more than just a little straightforward.

The 90-odd minute running time really does help in keeping the story tight enough so it doesn’t outstay its welcome. The film is fundamentally a light comedy that could well be pigeonholed into a predictable teen flick by many critics. But this one lifts the bar just enough to be interesting without resorting to the jokes seen many a time during the latest teen movie craze. It’s funny in parts, largely due to Black and Zahn at their crazy and unpredictable best. In fact, the only predictable part of this film is the actors who have chosen a path well worn by each of them during their short careers. Surely Peet is crying out for something with a little more substance, while Biggs is in serious trouble of never being able to shake the loser-ish teenage character.

If you’re after something pretty easy to watch and enjoy the oddball comedy talents of Jack Black and Steve Zahn then you’re definitely on a winner with this one. It won’t knock your socks off in terms of story or out-and-out laughs but this solid comedy flick will keep you entertained and is well worth an hour-and-a-half of your time.

The gaffer came in handy on this shoot

Video

Roadshow have done it again with a pretty slick-looking transfer. The 1.85:1, 16:9 enhanced presentation is incredibly sharp and detailed with no visible signs of aliasing or edge enhancement. Blemishes on the print are few and far between, not surprising for a recent movie such as this one. Colours are the most impressive here, with everything looking spot on in terms of depth and realism. Shadows are quite good, particularly during a difficult nighttime scene halfway through the film. Another top notch transfer on offer here that certainly won’t harm your chances of enjoying the flick.

Edit: The cover states that the transfer is 2.35:1 but it is actually 1.85:1. Thanks to the wonderful Amy Flower for the heads up.  

Audio

The disc comes with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that is used mainly to pump out the music tracks throughout the film. There’s not all that much surround use in terms of effects and the like so the bulk of the work by the rears is directed towards making Neil Diamond sound as good as possible. Now some of you might say that old Neil couldn’t possibly sound good no matter what speakers you use, but the little snippets of his songs do sound pretty good. Thankfully we aren’t bombarded with track after track, with many other songs as well as the score providing a reasonable balance. A little bit of Neil never goes astray. Not a bad mix for a dialogue-driven comedy.

Extras

Not much in the way of extras on this release, which isn’t all that surprising considering the film’s limited theatrical run in Australia and the fact that projected demand for this disc probably wouldn’t be all that great.

First up is the Director’s Commentary from Dennis Dugan. It’s pretty dull on the whole save for some small details about casting, the story and the appearance of Neil Diamond. Dugan sometimes strays into the deadly territory of describing the action on screen. And as Ryan mentioned in his review of the Region 1 disc, Dugan also thinks that the film is much funnier than it actually is. Only for fans of the flick.

The stripping nun

Also included on the disc is an outtake reel mainly featuring Zahn and Black just being creative with their lines in true ad-lib fashion. There’s not a lot of the familiar crack-ups take after take but some of this is very funny indeed. One would assume that with a couple of crazy actors like those two boys that there was probably a truckload of outtakes over the course of the film, yet it has all been stripped down to a neat little three minute piece. Worth a look.

The rest of the supplements include the theatrical trailer as well as trailers for Loser, Big Daddy and The Cable Guy and cast & crew filmographies. There’s only a limited selection on offer here that is probably only going to appeal to serious fans of the film.

Overall

Something fluffy and slightly humorous is good for a change sometimes and Evil Woman is the perfect film if you’re in that type of mood. Typecasting issues aside, the cast put in a pretty solid performance. And don’t we know they’ve had practice with this material. Black and Zahn provide the laughs, Biggs evokes the sympathy and Peet and Detmer give us the sex appeal in what is a pretty good mix of talent. The story isn’t all that creative but it’s better than some of the brainless teen-oriented comedies of late. A great transfer, serviceable audio and a couple of extras make this a decent disc that is well worth a look.


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