Say It Isn't Funny
Sometimes a movie is so bad you sit through it in pure amazement. Itís like watching a building being demolished. You canít stop staring until all the destruction is complete. Say It Isnít So, a pointless romantic comedy, serves as a perfect example. Its unreasonable premise and tasteless humor overshadow the talents of Chris Klein and Heather Graham, two attractive young stars who deserve better material. Still, I couldnít take my eyes off the screen. The fact that each scene seemed worse than the one before fascinated me. And the movieís last disgusting moments even exceeded my direst expectations.
While a story about a couple who become lovers without knowing they are brother and sister reeks with possibilities, in Say It Isnít So it just reeks. Everyone harasses Gilly Noble (Klein) for falling in love with Jo Wingfield (Graham). Townspeople who once found the orphaned Gilly so endearing start calling him "pervert" and smear his car with graffiti. As a result of public pressure, his boss at the animal shelter even fires the naÔve worker despite his excellent job record. But none of this makes any sense at all. Because Gilly had no idea he was related to Jo, itís quite clear heís more to be pitied than censured.
First-time director J. B. Rogers and new screenwriters Peter Gualke and Jerry Swallow appear determined to include as many gross-out scenes as possible at the expense of telling a believable story. Cutting off a personís ear during a haircut, wearing bikini-wax remnants as a beard, deliberately dropping a man who suffered a stroke, poking fun at a person with no legs, and searching for a ring inside a cowís behind are not the kind of things that make me laugh. (However, Iím not immune to sick humor when itís done well. I found Thereís Something about Mary hilarious.)
Thankfully, appearing in this clunker should not ruin the promising acting careers of Klein (Election) and Graham (Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me). They both have too much to offer. In fact, a combination of Grahamís wide-eyed innocence and Kleinís comic timing almost makes one scene work here. When Gilly shows Jo how he recites his "Noble Creature" poem to animals before other employees put them to sleep, a glimmer of humanity shines briefly on screen.
Another "close but no cigar" moment comes from two-time Academy Award winner Sally Field (Norma Rae, Places in the Heart), who tries to breathe some life into her "mother from hell" role. Unfortunately, she succeeds only in a segment involving her wheelchair-bound husbandís (Richard Jenkins) encounter with a swarm of bees. "Donít move," she shouts at him. "I have to get my camera!" Fieldís quirky facial expression and excited voice inflection reminded me of just how funny she can be with a good script. (Remember Soapdish?).
Orlando Jones (The Replacements) emerges as the most ill-used actor in Say It Isnít So. Playing a legless bush pilot who befriends Gilly, heís supposed to be a mix of Charles Lindbergh and Jimi Hendrix. Instead, Jones comes across more like a circus clown. He stuffs his face with marijuana, wears an ice-skating boot on one artificial leg, and says inane things like "Whadya know --- they want the white boy!"
With the worst ending since Pay It Forward, this unfunny comedy lends new meaning to the Oedipus complex. Although Gilly and Jo may not be brother and sister after all, the true identity of Gillyís real mother left me hoping this is as bad as movies will ever get.
(Released by 20th Century Fox and rated "R" for strong sexual content, crude humor and language.)