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Liam Lynch
Sarah Silverman
Writing Credits:
Sarah Silverman

Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic is written by Sarah Silverman, directed by Liam Lynch, and produced by Heidi Herzon, Mark Williams and Randy Sosin. Lynch, the fast-rising video and film director currently in production on the feature Tenacious D In: The Pick of Destiny, collaborated with Silverman to adapt her show to the screen. The film comprises Silverman's performance before a live audience interwoven with stylish musical numbers and backstage intrigue. Bob Odenkirk, Brian Posehn and Silverman's comedian/actor sister, Laura Silverman, make appearances along with Silverman's band, "The Silver Men".

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$124.475 thousand on 7 screens.
Domestic Gross
$1.324 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 1.78:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Stereo
Not Closed-captioned

Runtime: 70 min.
Price: $26.99
Release Date: 6/6/2006

• Audio Commentary with Director Liam Lynch and Actor/Writer Sarah Silverman
• “The Making of Jesus Is Magic” Documentary
• Music Video
• Trailers
• Scene From The Aristocrats


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic (2005)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 12, 2006)

One of the highlights of the controversial joke flick The Aristocrats, Sarah Silverman breaks out on her own in a performance film called Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic. The program starts with a minor story setup: Jealous that her comedian friends (Laura Silverman and Brian Posehn) have more successful careers than she, Sarah tries to keep up with the Joneses. She lies and claims she’s putting on a musical about the Holocaust and AIDS that’ll be made into a movie. When will this “opus” debut? That night, which leaves her a few hours to write and stage this spectacular or suffer shame in front of her pals.

She worries about this in a long musical number that leads to the actual performance: a live piece of stand-up comedy. Through this show, Silverman touches on many taboo subjects like rape, religion, and the aforementioned duo of AIDS and the Holocaust. She also talks about family, relationships and sex in her decidedly non-PC manner. Interspersed with the stand-up, we find a smattering of songs.

To put it mildly, Magic won’t be for everyone. The easily-offended should definitely stay away from it. Heck, the not-so-easily-offended may have problems with it as well. Silverman throws out so many potentially objectionable comments that this flick clearly will upset many who dare to watch it.

However, they’re missing the joke. Silverman usually doesn’t make these comments and observations for simple shock value, though I think she occasionally lowers herself to that level. Her comedy works best when filtered through her persona as a self-obsessed Jewish woman. That’s where some of the best lines emerge, and they allow the possibly offensive bits to come across more as naïve than as aggressively biased.

Silverman doesn’t always walk the funny side of that line, though, and her routine can turn on a dime. Again, the perspective she uses makes most of the difference. When she throws out a joke about how American Airlines should use the World Trade Center attacks to their advantage, the bit dies. When she tells us that she’ll never forget 9/11 because that’s the day she learned how her favorite latte contained 900 calories, the bit succeeds.

Other risky targets work best when Silverman takes the absurd side of things. For instance, she makes some cracks about Martin Luther King. At first she just acts edgy for the sake of edginess, and that segment stiffs. However, she then twists things to chat about King’s bad side, and her comments go for ridiculous notions like how MLK would fart in the car with the windows down. It’s a silly enough idea to be amusing, and it’s sure a lot funnier than just calling King names.

Other good gags work in a similarly low-key manner. For example, Silverman’s idea at how she got back at Osama Bin-Laden is hilarious. It’s smart but not overtly edgy or gratuitous. That’s the kind of stuff she does best.

Magic benefits from Silverman’s dry, matter of fact delivery. She doesn’t usually try to sell the jokes, which means she tosses them out in a nicely low-key manner. Unfortunately, we also can see too many of the gags coming. Once we figure out Silverman’s MO, too many punch lines become inevitable. Again, these are the smattering of moments that count on shock more than anything else. Devoid of the surprise, they don’t work.

I can’t say I cared for most of the movie’s musical numbers. Actually, the opening one about how she needs to write a show is pretty good, and it sets up the project in an amusing manner. After that, she goes to the well too often, especially since we usually leave the stage for some overblown production numbers. I suppose the filmmakers figured these would break the potential monotony of a stand-up show, but I feel they act as a distraction more than anything else. It doesn’t help that I think the songs themselves are duds. They’re not as creative as the opening number, though they do all boast catchy tunes.

Jesus Is Magic is short enough that I can forgive most of its sins. It includes a good sampling of laughs, and its brevity means it never drags for too long. I think Silverman will someday create something truly inspired, as she possesses a lot of talent. Until then, Magic acts as a reasonably entertaining diversion.

The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio C+/ Bonus C+

Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Apparently shot on digital video, Magic offered inconsistent but decent visuals.

Sharpness generally seemed satisfactory. Sometimes the wider shots appeared a little ill defined and weren’t as distinctive as I’d like. Nonetheless, the program mostly came across as accurate and concise. Occasional signs of jagged edges and shimmering occurred, and some minor edge haloes also could be seen at times. Source flaws also were absent, as the presentation suffered from no artifacts, video noise or other issues.

Given the basic setting, colors usually stayed simplistic but solid. The musical numbers offered the liveliest hues, and they presented pretty dynamic tones. Blacks also appeared deep and firm, and the occasional low-light shot seemed clear and appropriately visible. There wasn’t a whole lot to the visual presentation of Magic, but the DVD replicated things fairly well.

Similar thoughts greeted the Dolby Digital soundtrack of Jesus Is Magic. Not surprisingly, the mix usually presented a very modest soundfield. Silverman’s monologue emanated firmly from the front center channel, so that speaker heavily dominated the proceedings. Otherwise, we got audience laughter and applause from the front sides and – to a lesser degree – surrounds.

Music opened up things at times, though not with much precision. The songs offered vague stereo imaging that lacked satisfying delineation. Vocals sometimes bled to the sides, and the music suffered from a mushy sense of image. This varied, as some tunes worked better than others, but I never felt impressed by the stereo songs.

Audio quality remained positive. Speech easily became the most important aspect of the track, and Silverman’s remarks consistently sounded natural and warm. Except for one laugh in a musical number, I noticed no edginess or problems with distortion, as her comments were always very smooth. The light applause and laughter also seemed clear and accurate. Music showed acceptable definition, though that area was erratic. Some of the tunes came across as lively and distinct, while others tended to be a bit muddy. All of these factors left us with a “C+” soundtrack.

A few extras round out the DVD. First up comes an audio commentary with director Liam Lynch and actor/writer Sarah Silverman. Both sit together for their running, screen-specific chat. Lynch dominates the conversation as Silverman says surprisingly little; I think she talks more about how good her teeth look on film than anything else. Not that Lynch is particularly informative either, as this turns into a pretty mediocre track.

The commentary goes over locations and the design of the main set, inspirations for various gags and scenes, the restrictions of the budget, shooting with specific guests like Bob Odenkirk, and some production notes. Unfortunately, the details pop up infrequently, as we mostly get comments about how much Lynch likes various segments. He often laughs and praises Silverman’s work. Dead air becomes a problem as well, especially as the flick progresses. This is a pretty dull commentary without much to redeem it.

Next comes a documentary called The Making of Jesus Is Magic. This 35-minute and 32-second show offers movie snippets, behind the scenes elements, and interviews. We hear from Lynch, Silverman, “understudy” Kelsie Lynn, actors Laura Silverman and Brian Posehn, and Sarah’s boyfriend Jimmy Kimmel.

They offer comments about staging the show and issues related to making the movie. The highlights of the piece come from the glimpses of the shoot, though, as we see elements like Silverman’s giant hair creation for one video, rehearsals, and backstage shots. Those help flesh out our understanding of the flick’s creation and help make this a pretty informative piece as well as one with some laughs. It’s sure a lot more useful than that boring commentary.

A Music Video for “Give the Jew Girl Toys” lasts two minutes, 24 seconds. It shows Silverman as she pesters Santa not to ignore her for religious reasons. It’s mildly entertaining, though as with the tunes in the movie, the tune itself is better than the lyrics.

In the Trailers area, we get promos for both Jesus Is Magic and The Aristocrats. Finally, we get Silverman’s Scene From The Aristocrats. This five-minute and 43-second snippet shows her take on that joke. It’s a good version, though this component obviously becomes redundant if you’ve already seen that flick.

While not the most consistent show, Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic presents more laughs than the average stand-up routine. The movie replicates her performance pretty well and keeps us entertained over most of its 70 minutes. The DVD offers decent picture, audio and extras, though the commentary is a dull disappointment. Though the show and disc don’t excel, they’re good enough for me to recommend this package to fans of clever comedy.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 5
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