For over a decade, comedian Sarah Silverman has held high court in the unenviable kingdom of comedic purgatory. She spent a forgotten year on Saturday Night Live before getting shitcanned, played a handful of memorable roles on Mr. Show, and in spite of a talent (and beauty) both singular and undeniable, has generally padded out her resume with roles like "Network Executive #3," "Raving Bitch," and "Second American Politics Assistant." But a funny thing happened this year: Sarah "Always the Bridesmaid" Silverman went from cult curio to critical America's sweetheart—and all it took was a particularly well-played rape joke.
Running laps around dozens of comedy's most established voices, Silverman's appearance in the critically acclaimed documentary The Aristocrats beautifully condensed her well-honed and pleasantly profane charms into a brilliant bite-sized burst—a power play that elevated the 35-year-old comedian's star considerably. This primed the pump for the media blitz that would precede Jesus is Magic—a concert film that's seen Silverman's rather photogenic face in the pages of virtually every glossy magazine I've picked up over the past two months. Finally, everyone in the world wants Sarah Silverman to be a star—and no one so much as Sarah Silverman herself. It's just unfortunate that this wellspring of support had to coincide with the release of such a frustratingly uneven product.
Jesus is Magic is hardly the breakout hit the world was clamoring for—a mercifully brief 72 minutes of what amounts to little more than a pay-channel comedy special regrettably bloated to the big screen. Strangely, this isn't to suggest that Silverman's masterfully tasteless standup suffers—and as her act comprises the vast majority of the film (suspiciously, that figures out to roughly the length of a television comedy special), it logically seems that it should more than carry the lackluster skits and musical interludes incrementally dropped throughout her routine. But as the only truly visual elements of the film—the breaks that supposedly elevate this functional standup performance to a celluloid standard—the skits are more than uniformly awful; they're eye-rollingly oppressive. Believe me, I want Sarah Silverman to be a star as much as the next guy—but that doesn't mean I want to hand it to her.