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Review by Dustin Putman
2 stars out of 4
Misleadingly billed as "From the creators of 'There's Something About Mary,'"
James B. Rogers' madcap comedy, "Say It Isn't So," was merely produced by
Bobby and Peter Farrelly, despite offering up a similar brand of their
outrageous, raunchy humor. There is one subtle, telling difference,
however--the Farrelly Brothers can be comic geniuses who know how to build up
a joke, milking it for all its worth as the laughs escalate, while newcomer
James B. Rogers is clearly an amateur who is never quite sure how to approach
the would-be raucous material.
Gilly Noble (Chris Klein) is a starry-eyed dogcatcher in the backwater town
of Shelbyville, Indiana, who becomes instantly smitten with Jo Wingfield
(Heather Graham) from the moment he first sees her. Working as a very bad
hairdresser who almost cuts Gilly's entire ear off in a freak accident, Jo
and Gilly hit it off and share six months of romance and fun. Bad news comes
in the form of proof that Gilly's long-lost mother happens to also be
Jo's--the money-grubbing, white-trash Valdine (Sally Field).
Switch forward sixteen months, Jo has fled to Beaver, Colorado and rekindled
with millionaire ex-boyfriend Jack (Eddie Cibrian), to whom she is planning
to marry. When news comes of this, followed by the revelation that Gilly and
Jo aren't siblings, after all, Gilly heads for Beavers, dead-set on telling
Jo the truth so they can spend their life together, and he can stop the
wedding with Jack.
Like 1998's "There's Something About Mary" and 2000's "Me, Myself & Irene,"
"Say It Isn't So" is, indeed, outrageous and raunchy, but it is never very
funny. The incest jokes that arise in the first half are so plentiful and
nonstop that it became tiresome almost immediately. It is always obvious
where the supposed humorous parts are to be, but they usually fall flat, no
doubt because the editing isn't tight enough, the writing isn't sharp enough,
and the performances aren't focused enough to warrant success. That isn't to
say director Rogers doesn't try his hardest (after all, what other movie
could you possibly see in which a character gets his arms stuck in the rectum
of a cow by accident); he is simply no more than a novice who would have been
better to try a less physical, ribald comedy his first time at bat.
The film is also maddening in the way that it is so fervently stuck with an
Idiot Plot, a term coined by Roger Ebert. One thing is for sure: had the
characters been just a little smarter, and had Gilly just opened his mouth
and told Jo, "I'm not your brother," from the beginning, the movie could have
avoided all of its dumbed-down plot developments and been over and done with
long before its 93 minutes concluded. Nothing, perhaps, is more frustrating
than watching characters consistently dodge the words they should be
speaking, just so the plot can run on a little longer and more complications
What does work, and is fairly funny, is Orlando Jones (2001's "Double Take")
as the legless aerial pilot, Dig, who befriends Gilly after he is hit by
Gilly's car, causing his legs to break off and fly through the air. This
scene is not only the funniest in the whole picture, but Jones does a
delightful job of developing a distinct likability for his character.
Chris Klein (2000's "Here on Earth") and Heather Graham (1999's "Austin
Powers 2"), likewise, share a bewitching chemistry together, and their love
story works primarily because of the pair's charisma. Every scene they share
together works very well, and with only a few minutes of screen time devoted
to their romance before they are torn apart for almost the rest of the movie,
I believed that they loved each other. In the past, Graham's popularity has
been a little lost on me, but with her career sure to be heating up in the
next year (with no fewer than three more movies coming out after this one),
she has finally hit her stride as an actress. She has been good in the past
(1997's "Boogie Nights"), but never so radiant on-screen as she is here.
Klein may be the central protagonist, but it is Graham who is the star.
In an out-of-the-ordinary supporting turn, Sally Field (2000's "Where the
Heart Is") hams it up as the nasty, greedy Valdine. Field has a field day (no
pun intended) with the low-rent particulars of the role, but Valdine is such
a mean woman that every scene with her left a sour taste in my mouth. While
Field has never quite played a character like this one, she is nevertheless
slumming it, and is far too good an actress to be wasting her time in such
With a hum-worthy pop/rock soundtrack and a generally fast pace, "Say It
Isn't So" thankfully never overstays its welcome, but also never is able to
get out of the hole it gradually digs for itself with every big joke that
causes nothing more than a lot of eye-rolling. Had "Say It Isn't So"
abandoned its lewd, naughty roots and tried to just be a sweet romance, it
might have worked better. Klein and Graham prove that they have exactly what
it takes to hold up a movie on their own, without masturbation, incest, and
necrophilia jokes getting in the way.
Copyright © 2000 Dustin Putman