Friday March 23, 2001
Ah, yes, Farrelly.
You can smell it all over "Say It Isn't So," even though brothers Bobby and Peter--who brought us "Dumb & Dumber," "There's Something About Mary" and "Me, Myself & Irene"--aren't what you'd call creatively implicated in this particular gag fest. They did, however, produce it, which in Farrelly-speak is the same as "perpetrated." Blame them, thank them--it's probably all the same to them.
It's something of a wonder that Farrelly & Co. took this long to hook up with Chris Klein, the likable if forgettable star of "American Pie" and "Election," whose utterly vacant face makes him a perfect Farrelly hero--the innocent abroad in a sea of human venom; the daffy, dopey but essentially good guy. As animal-control agent and orphan Gilly Noble, Klein is a bit touched (by an angel), polite to everyone, generous, understanding--the kind of guy who consoles the very animals he puts down. Obviously, he's up to his baseball cap in overripe, backward-spinning karma.
It's also clear that screenwriters Peter Gaulke and Gerry Swallow had the Farrellys in mind--and Oscar Wilde and Shakespeare, several Restoration playwrights and Dickens--when they patched together "Say It Isn't So." Gilly the Hapless is in search of both love and his mother. He has hired a private eye to find the latter and thinks he's found his soul mate in Jo Wingfield (Heather Graham), the town's very healthy and hence popular new hairdresser. After she clips half his ear off, he knows it's for real. Their romance blossoms. And blossoms. And then Gilly gets the news: He thinks his real mother is Valdine Wingfield (Sally Field), gold-digging, stretch-pants-abusing incubus and mother of his girlfriend. Valdine turns out not to be Mom, but not before the town has branded him a sister lover.
The flaw in this particular ointment is that incest should present such a problem; given the heights of vulgarity already achieved within the hallowed halls of the Farrelly School of Comedy, a little wallowing in a common gene pool would hardly seem the taboo it is in "Say It Isn't So." But then, dramatic devices and contrivances are what you make them, and director Rogers makes the most of them.
Jo certainly takes it seriously. Kept in the dark about her real brother by her mother and stroke-victim father (Richard Jenkins, delivering most of his lines through a "Vocalator 3000," which doesn't hurt), she renews her relationship with the evil Jack Mitchell (Eddie Cibrian of "Third Watch"). They get engaged and thus Gilly is racing the clock: Make Jo realize the truth in time to live happily ever after. Abetted by a legless pilot named Dig (played by the wonderful Orlando Jones), Gilly makes his play for love.
"Say It Isn't So" is ultimately a sweet movie, but one made by people who can't stoop to conquer without an almost audible strain on their own intelligence.
Say It Isn't So, 2001. Rated R for strong sexual content, crude humor and language. 20th Century Fox presents a Conundrum Entertainment production, released by 20th Century Fox. Director J.B. Rogers. Producers Bobby Farrelly, Bradley Thomas, Peter Farrelly. Screenplay by Peter Gaulke & Gerry Swallow. Cinematographer Mark Irwin. Editor Larry Madaras. Costume designer Lisa Jensen. Music Mason Daring. Production designer Sidney J. Bartholomew, Jr. Art director Arlan Jay Vetter. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes. Chris Klein as Gilbert Noble. Heather Graham as Josephine Wingfield. Orlando Jones as Dig McCaffey. Sally Field as Valdine Wingfield. Richard Jenkins as Walter Wingfield.