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"Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic"

Directed by Liam Lynch.
Written by Sarah Silverman.
Starring Sarah Silverman, Brian Posehn, Laura Silverman and Bob Odenkirk.
Release Year:  2005
Review Date:  12/03/05


My buddy Yac and I went over to the E Street Cinema last week because we both wanted to laugh our ass off at some good, quality racism in the new film "Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic."

Please note: after careful review, this movie is amazingly unfunny.  And remember, I LOVE RACIST HUMOR.

Sarah Silverman, who really does reveal herself to be a one-trick pony in her self-titled stand-up film, is famous for being very Jewish, pretty hot (although I'm inclined to disagree with that, especially after watching her for a full 70 minutes) and unfathomably comfortable making you laugh at terribly un-PC humor.  Now, I have seen/heard Silverman before in bits and starts; you know, a bit on XM Radio here and there (five minutes), a bit of her stand-up on Comedy Central (maybe eight minutes), her scene from "The Aristocrats" telling her version of the joke.  In small doses, she can be quite funny.

My mistake was thinking that she could pull that off for a full hour, since "Jesus is Magic" is about 72 minutes long, with a few too many sketch sequences that were better left on the cutting room floor and almost no jokes that fall outside of her skill set (Silverman doesn't seem to be able to just say something funny without trying to offend).  Example: the film opens and closes with Silverman hangin' out with two of her "friends", who in real life are her sister Laura and Brian Posehn, a comic from the old "Mr. Show" days with Bob Odenkirk, who is also in this movie.  Both of these bookend sequences basically die on the operating table.  There's a scene where Silverman chastises Jews that buy German cars--admittedly, an interesting argument--but the song that she uses to do that is full of other offensive stuff, none of which got our sold-out audiences to laugh.  The musical sequence featuring old people was somewhat funny, but only because of a moment where Silverman mentions that it's not cold in the room, it's just that they are dying.  That scene got me mostly because there were real old people standing in as the audience in a senior-citizen home.

But for the most part, it was stunning how infrequently folks were laughing in this movie.  Normally, I might say that was because people were shocked by how offensive Silverman is...but, you don't come to the theater without having some feel for her normal comedy, which is to say things like

"The best time to get when you are a black teenager."

This, of course, will get you to start laughing until you regret that you've done it, and that's where Silverman can be good.  But, even that line didn't get the theater to lose it, and in a movie which by-and-large is a stand-up film, you need to have five or six whoppers that carry the rest of the movie.  Hell, "The Original Kings of Comedy" had some, "Bill Cosby: Himself" had a dozen, "Richard Pryor: Live in New York" had some, "Eddie Murphy: Raw" had some, Margaret Cho's "Notorious C.H.O." had some.  "Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic" has exactly zero big laugh scenes.  This is unacceptable for a stand-up movie that somebody thought was good enough to release in theaters.

Yac, for the first time ever, actually wanted to go a grade higher than I did.  I disagreed; man, this was bad.  And I dropped $10 to sit in the theater for just over an hour!!!

Rating:  Hard Vice


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09