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Review: 'Say It Isn't So' isn't so funny


In this story:

Sweet guy, sexy gal

Family (dis)unity

Plot thickens, logic thins

This is humor?

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(CNN) -- The official Web site for J.B. Rogers' "Say It Isn't So" tells us it's a "comically depraved spin on a classic love story," which is another way of saying it's supposed to be funny simply because it's rude. If only it were that easy.

Peter and Bobby Farrelly - brothers who have gotten more than enough mileage out of having written and directed the intermittently amusing "There's Something About Mary" (1998) -- produced this one.

In fact, there are so many similarities between the two movies, the Farrellys could conceivably sue their own writers for plagiarism.

Sweet guy, sexy gal

Chris Klein plays Gilly Noble, a sweet young guy who works at an animal shelter. This gives screenwriters Peter Gaulke and Gerry Swallow a reason to make road-kill jokes ... and apply the Farrelly law that says unfortunate things happening to animals is a key element of American humor. (A later incident, in which Gilly gets his arm stuck inside a cow's rectum, has nothing to do with his line of work, but so what?)

Gilly professes to be a romantic who's looking for the right girl. One day, he thinks he finds her, in the person of sexy hairdresser Jo Wingfield (Heather Graham, playing an over-ripe variation on Cameron Diaz of "Mary" fame). When Jo is cutting Gilly's hair, she accidentally snips off one of his ears. You get to see it happen in close-up, just like the mangled penis gag in "There's Something About Mary."

Gilly and Jo hit it off despite the mutilation, so she invites him to a home-cooked dinner with her family.

Family (dis)unity

Jo's mom, Valdine (Sally Field), is gutter-mouthed trash who constantly belittles her stroke-victim husband, Walter (Richard Jenkins). Careful readers may note that having a stroke victim to beat up and mock is reminiscent of -- you guessed it -- "There's Something About Mary," in which Diaz is blessed with a mentally challenged kid brother who takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

Movie trailer for 'Say It Isn't So'

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Walter is confined to a wheelchair, and has to talk through a speaker that he wears around his throat. Apparently, it's the next best thing to Mark Twain when you curse through an amplifier that makes you sound like a robot. Roughly dropping paralyzed people to the floor is also good for a chuckle. And don't forget to yell at each other. Anger and disdain are really just jokes disguised as hurtfulness.

Gilly can't believe what he's gotten himself into, but he's still falling for Jo. The two are soon locked in bouts of passionate sex, but the fun stops when they discover that they're actually brother and sister!

Plot thickens, logic thins

Gilly is an orphan, you see, and it's been determined that Valdine and Walter are his long-lost parents. The accidental incest angle is so vulgar you just have to laugh -- unless, of course, you recognize it as a mistake that's not even remotely funny.

Time passes. One day, Gilly is informed that Jo isn't really his sister, and he wants her back. But she's off in another town, where she's about to get married to a shady millionaire (Eddie Cibrian). So, much like Ben Stiller's character does in a movie that we've already mentioned, Gilly takes out after his true love. Along the way, he meets up with a pot-smoking, double-amputee airplane pilot (Orlando Jones) who's forever losing his plastic legs. At one point, you get to see his hilarious stumps!

It just keeps on like that until you're ready to scream. These aren't really jokes in the sense that something funny is happening. You're mostly expected to laugh at the idea that there are people who aren't laughing, which is just shallow and incredibly easy. All you have to do is look directly at a situation that most folks have the good manners to avoid blatantly sizing up, then treat it with the polar opposite of respect.

This is humor?

If an animal is involved, abuse it. If you're dealing with human beings, highlight their lack of class, mock any and all afflictions and rough them up as much as possible. If the person happens to be a large-breasted female, make sure she rips off her shirt at an inappropriate time, like in front of her parents and a shocked dinner guest.

And, most important, keep it coming at a steady clip. After all, the end result has to be long enough to play in theaters.

Next time, The Farrellys should just knock on doors and randomly wipe boogers on people's arms. It would make them look smarter and save everyone a lot of time and energy.

Of course your kids shouldn't see "Say It Isn't So" and that's exactly why they'll clamor for the opportunity. Tie them in a chair and show them a Marx Brothers movie instead. Rogers, by the way, has about as much flair for constructing a movie as your mom does. And Field should immediately remove the tarnish from her Oscars. Rated R. 98 minutes.

'Say It Isn't So' official site

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