SAY IT ISN'T SO
Director: J.B. Rogers
Cast: Chris Klein, Heather Graham, Orlando Jones, Sally Field, Richard Jenkins
MPAA Rating: (for strong sexual content, crude humor and language)
Running Time: 1:35
Release Date: 3/23/01
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Review by Mark Dujsik
Peter and Bobby Farrelly really need to specify their involvement in the movies they are associated with. Say It Isnít So is advertised as being "from the guys who brought you Thereís Something About Mary." Technically, such a claim is accurate, but it is highly deceptive also. The Farrelly brothers produced Say It Isnít So, while they wrote and directed Mary. And no matter what anyone says, there is a huge difference between creative and financial involvement. At their best, the Farrellyís have a way of extending a gag (usually gross or irreverent) to its fullest potential, but most of that has something to do with the fact that theyíre at the helm. For this installment, J.B. Rogers, who has worked on other Farrelly projects, is brought in to direct, and he gets the idea of a Farrelly movie right but manages to mess it up to the point of annoyance.
The story is about a young man named Gilbert "Gilly" Noble (note the subtlety of the meaning behind the name) played by Chris Klein. Heís a single animal control worker waiting for that one girl who gives him "goose-bumps all over." Enter Heather Graham. Graham plays Josephine "Jo" Wingfield and is a very good sport for appearing here. She cuts hair for a living and gets involved in a joke familiar to anyone who remember the hair gel gag in Mary, except with actual hair gel this time. Gilly and Jo fall in love and do everything that goes along with that, until one day, Gilly finds out that his birth parents are also Joís. Vomiting ensues, and sixteen months later, Gilly is living with his parents and sporting long hair and a goatee. Jo has moved away and is preparing to marry her new boyfriend, leaving poor Gilly to pine for her from afar (kind of creepy, if you ask me). That is until Joís real brother arrives, and Gilly heads off to Beaver, Oregon (the joke here is that all the places in town start with "beaver") to stop Jo.
Yes, this does sound like Farrelly brother material, in a way, but the way itís handled is all wrong. The Farrellys have a way of doing mean jokes without making them seem mean. Unfortunately, Rogers has forgotten about the second part, and so we get gags involving incest (obviously), a stroke victim (played by Richard Jenkins), and a man with no legs (played by Orlando Jones, another good sport). I must have been gone when the memo about things like this being funny was passed out, because, in all honesty, I never knew strokes were supposed to be funny. Now, I could think of a couple of directors (I donít know why, but the Farrelly brothers come up as a possibility) who could handle jokes like this and give them some kind of heart or understanding. Here, the tone is meanóoccasionally cruel. While the stroke victim is the most obvious example, the treatment of our hero is equally perplexing. Gilly obviously doesnít catch on too quickly, and I got the feeling that instead of laughing with him, the movie tries to make us laugh at him. Klein is an actor good at playing dumb (he did it with great charm in Election), but he cannot carry a movie. Heís best left in the supporting role. Then thereís the pain of having to watch Sally Field completely misused and wasted, which is a different story but offensive nonetheless.
When all is said and done, though, Say It Isnít So is simply a lightweight comedy. The gags are too infrequent and are missing something behind them. When the movie actually does find something sort of clever, itís not until the very end when Gilly discovers the identity of his real birth mother. Itís actually pretty funny, but as I said, itís at the very end.
Copyright © 2001 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.