Rated R - Running Time: 1:33 - Released 3/23/01

There's nothing like time-wasting, career-padding, disposable goofball comedies to make us critics wonder what we're doing with our lives. Say It Isn't So, the incestual farce produced (but not written or directed) by offensive comedy-meisters Peter and Bobby Farrelly, fits the bill perfectly. The film is directed by the Farrellys' frequent assistant director James B. Rogers in his first try at the helm, and written by Peter Gaulke (Saturday Night Live) and Gerry Swallow, and although this creative team stays very close to its producers' formula of treading, and in fact tromping, on socially thin ice, it only succeeds about 50% of the time. It does provide something to watch during winter's long death rattle, however, and gives stars Chris Klein and Heather Graham something to do between more important projects. But they don't do anything very interesting.

Klein plays Gilly Noble, an animal control worker in Shelbyville, Indiana, who grew up as an orphan. The film begins pathetically with Gilly's oral dissertation on loneliness, but soon he is introduced to an inept hairdresser named Jo Wingfield (Graham), who just returned from Beaver, Oregon, where she broke off an engagement with wealthy playboy Jack Mitchelson (Eddie Cibrian). Gilly and Jo fall blissfully in love, much to the irritation of her trailer-trash parents, the wheelchair bound Walter (Richard Jenkins), whose recent stroke necessitates the use of a robotic sounding vocal synthesizer to speak, and Valdine (Sally Field), a well-dressed but ignorant woman who still wants Jo to marry Jack and score the big payoff. But just as they begin to plan their wedding, Gilly's hired investigator discovers that his mother is none other than Valdine, who gave up a baby boy for adoption not long after Jo was born. Naturally, their romantic relationship comes to a screeching halt and Jo moves back to Beaver, where Jack is waiting with open arms. But then the real Wingfield orphan shows up, and Gilly decides to pursue his one true love.

The most interesting and amusing person in this movie is Orlando Jones, whose character, double amputee and freelance pilot Dig McCaffrey, is barely even necessary to the plot. Dig befriends Gilly on his way to Beaver, and offers dubious help in various situations, but it is Jones's characterization, not his role in the story, that makes the difference. Resembling Jimi Hendrix (complete with huge, head-banded afro), Jones enlightens every scene he's in with comic energy, but that is a mixed blessing, since it underscores the blandness of Klein and the usually unfunny antics of Field and Jenkins. Graham, meanwhile, is not asked to do anything but look good, which she does with utmost acuity.

This movie sinks or swims on its humor, and frankly, the Farrellys don't appear to have been very good swimming instructors. **½

Copyright 2001 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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