*/**** Image A Sound B Extras C+
starring Heather Graham, Chris Klein, Orlando Jones, Richard Jenkins
screenplay by Peter Gaulke & Gerry Swallow
directed by J.B. Rogers
by Walter Chaw A gross-out comedy in the vein of the Farrelly Brothers' There's Something About Mary, Say It Isn't So (produced by the Farrellys) is a blander-than-bland bit of formula fluff that miscalculates badly, for starters, in handing over its lead romantic roles to warmed-over oatmeal actors Chris Klein and Heather Graham. Though it begins promisingly enough, with an agreeably shocking family dinner and Klein reprising his well-meaning oaf from Election, as soon as the main love story surrounding Klein and Graham kicks up in earnest, Say It Isn't So slows to an awkward standstill with a curiously lacklustre series of punchless gags and forced madcap. The film reminds the most, in fact, of a straining stand-up comedian, a sheen of flop-sweat decorating his upper-lip as joke after rhythm-less joke falls on an increasingly hostile and distracted audience.
Gilly Noble (Klein) is a moronic animal control worker who falls in love with Jo (Graham), a moronic hairdresser. When Jo's evil white trash mother Valdine (Sally Field) hires a private investigator to investigate Gilly, it's revealed that Gilly is, in fact, Jo's long-lost brother, thus killing any chance of their finding wedded bliss. When the truth is revealed that Valdine has fudged the facts of the case, it's up to Gilly to convince Jo that not only is he not her brother, but also that she should dump her new millionaire beau (John Rothman) in favour of a widely reviled sister-ravisher.
Along for the ride are the stock Farrelly handicapped supporting characters: Jo's wheelchair-bound stroke-victim father, Walter (Richard Jenkins), and a Hendrix look-alike legless pilot named Dig (Orlando Jones). While both Jenkins and Jones do their best with what they're given, they find themselves helpless in the face of a moribund script and a general lack of spark. Say It Isn't So seems to be a work in progress that realizes Chris Klein is not leading-man material early on, and so it turns a small-town intrigue into an expiring road trip, the changing scenery doing nothing to distract from the wit-vacuum sucking quietly at the middle of the film. It is a curiously unfinished-feeling example of what happens to a film that doesn't have any characters with something to lose. There's an old truism that if anything can happen in a film, then none of it is interesting. The same holds true of characters to which anything can happen with no discernable peril to their status or dignity. Gilly hasn't any pride to begin with, so why should we possibly care if he's gotten his hand, yes, stuck in a cow?
There's more to the Farrelly formula than crass debauchery, soulful folk ballads, cow violence, and disabled people--Say It Isn't So, alas, has overlooked such vital ingredients as intelligence, sympathetic characters, and timing. It's a powerfully boring misfire of a movie that you find yourself feeling sorry for by the end. Unlike its main characters, the cast and crew involved in the making of this film most definitely had something to lose.
Fox Video's Say it Isn't So DVD has a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that's crisp and impressive. No digital artifacts in sight, with good shadow detail and true blacks, the Oregon (i.e., Vancouver, BC) exteriors are showcases of verdant greens and rich colour palettes. A Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is fine if underutilized, the rear channels getting good time during a minor cow stampede. Dialogue is easy to understand throughout.
A commentary track featuring Klein and director James B. Rogers is an unintentionally revealing thing in which Rogers betrays no perspective on the effectiveness of his film and Klein shows himself to be a bit of an idiot. Punctuated by useless clarification of shooting strategies and Klein's almost incessant glee and loutish chortling ("This is the funniest part of any movie ever" is a line that should not be used once in relation to Say It Isn't So, much less the number of times Klein offers it), I wonder if Richard Wagner is rolling in his grave at Klein's identification of "Ride of the Valkyries" as "that song from Apocalypse Now!" (or if Coppola is cringing at Rogers's bizarre admission that entire sequences of the film were tributes to Apocalypse Now).
A five-minute featurette reveals itself to be little more than an extended trailer, and six deleted scenes featuring an optional director's commentary are as unfunny as what was left in the film. The alternate ending is interesting, however, in that it demonstrates one way in which a terrible film could have been abominable. What's most disappointing about this selection of cutting-room floor sweepings is that the numerous television spots (five in all) also included on this disc reveal the existence of a deleted comic love scene, inexplicably absent in this section, involving the delectable Graham. A theatrical trailer rounds out the disc. Originally published: August 3, 2001.