ZERO STARS/**** Image A- Sound A- Extras C
starring Chris Kattan, Peter Falk, Peter Berg, Roger Fan
screenplay by David Garrett & Jason Ward
directed by Rob Pritts
by Walter Chaw There's an apocryphal tale from the set of John Sturges's The Magnificent Seven concerning Steve McQueen consistently upstaging Yul Brynner until the bald-pated thespian, fresh off his Oscar for The King and I, threatened to take off his hat during McQueen's scenes. An amusing anecdote about Hollywood egos and the urge to steal the limelight, it enters into a discussion of the abominable Corky Romano because a very curious thing happens in the film to its star, Chris Kattan.
In Corky Romano, Kattan's SNL-honed seizures and spasms upstage Kattan himself--he has created a jittering, jerking monster and it careens madly out of control. Marking the first time in recent memory that a non-Adam Sandler actor has undermined not only the quality but also the watchability of an entire film with a surplus of vaudevillian tics and freakish affectations, Corky Romano can't be viewed as a comedy, though it can be taken as a cautionary tale to comedians to try less hard, and to audiences not to assume that a lively cameo in an otherwise dreadful film (i.e., Monkeybone) is an indicator of future success.
Corky is the black sheep of a crime family and Corky Romano is a cheap riff on Black Sheep and Blue Streak, neither of which smelled very fresh in the first place. His father, Pops Romano (Peter Falk), with his two no-goodnik brothers (Peter Berg and the ever-expanding Chris Penn), hatch a plan to get the estranged Corky to go undercover with the FBI to steal evidence against the Romano mob. The joke of the film is, of course, that Corky is so incompetent in every facet of daily existence that he'll make a lovable mess out of every madcap situation in which he finds himself, all the while winning the approval of his co-workers and family and eventually saving the day. People who go to Corky Romano should be forewarned that Kattan is easily the most irritating thing to twitch its way onto movie screens this fall, and that, out of all the mugs and desperate slapstick that comprise Kattan's performance, there is only a single moment (involving the accidental ingestion of cocaine) that elicits so much as a grin.
Cheap homosexual japes mix with beastiality and flatulence gags. There's a bit about how stupid old people are, another about an obese cat, several never-funny CGI-assisted eye-bulgings and unmotivated slow motion takes, and a parallel plot concerning a violent drug dealer that's resolved so abruptly it reeks of embarrassed expediency. There's the girl (Vinessa Shaw) who is entirely out of Corky's league but falls for him anyway, the FBI chief (Richard "Shut Yo' Mouf!" Roundtree) who finds a way to explain each of Corky's hijinks as examples of heroism, and the sticky realization that if the forged documents are convincing enough to get Corky into the FBI building and the FBI director's good graces, then what he needs to do is check the evidence against his father out of the evidence room, thus potentially ending the film about ten minutes into it. That would be too merciful.
Yet the grand problem with Corky Romano is its unfocused sense of humour--there are just no themes, plots, or characteristics carried through to any kind of conclusion. Giving nothing away by revealing that Corky Romano ends in a wedding, as the newlyweds are driving away we get a quick, unsuccessfully edited out look at the message written in soap on the trunk of their car. "Just Marred," it says, and in one fell swoop we suddenly know first that the film is clumsy and careless, and then, ironically, that its final message to the audience describes the condition of an evening that started out promisingly enough with the desire to see a movie. Originally published: October 12, 2001.
by Bill Chambers My sense of humour having ceased to develop around the age of six, I laughed a few times during Corky Romano, but all its funniest bits are in the trailer, which is conspicuously absent from Buena Vista's DVD release of the film. Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, Corky Romano looks nice on disc; detail and contrast are strong, though colours seem prematurely faded and yellowed. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is typical of a comedy: dialogue-driven, with music occasionally extending into the surround channels. The subwoofer exhibits some deep thumping during the heart attack suffered by Falk's character in the earlygoing. Amusing extended versions of the skinhead confrontation and Corky's gym-spar with Shaw, a 12-minute behind-the-scenes featurette that follows a sequence involving Kattan, Penn, and Berg from shooting through to dailies and the final product, and the trailer for Bubble Boy round out the DVD. Originally published: May 15, 2002.