They've taken on high society and Aspen, the cutthroat world of professional bowling, new varieties of hair gel, and advance delusionary schizophrenia with involuntary narcissistic rage. The only subject left for the Farrelly Brothers and their unrefined (yet genius) little minds to roll around in would have to be incest. Well, low and behold, "Say it isn't So" (IMDb listing) is the new incest comedy from the boys who can't keep their heads out of the gutter.
Animal control specialist Gilly (Chris Klein) has met and fallen in love with a questionable hair stylist named Jo (Heather Graham). Finally finding the woman of his dreams, orphan Gilly is horrified to learn that Jo might actually be his long lost sister. Gilly is run out of town for partaking in a perverse relationship, but he still pines for Jo daily. Months later, when he learns that Jo is going to marry, Gilly leaves his native Indiana to travel to Beaver, Oregon to stop the wedding. With the help of a legless Jimi Hendrix lookalike (Orlando Jones), Gilly stops at nothing to prove to Jo that he might not really be her brother and that they can live happily ever after together.
Taking on a producing role this time out (as well as an uncredited script polish), Peter and Bobby Farrelly leave the directing reigns to their longtime first assistant director J. B. Rogers, though you would never know that from the final film. A template for the Farrelly brand of humor has been established a long time ago, and director Rogers is all too happy to follow it, right down to the road trip scenario and the hazy glow of the rural cinematography. Inevitably, this does leave the film with a large amount of lively laughs, but without the sure hands of the siblings massaging the material, an ample amount of the gags fall flat on their face.
I've never subscribed to the theory that the Farrelly boys all are shock and no substance. I've always found their vulgar sense of humor refreshing even if it alienates half of the audience. Nevertheless, the sight gag of having star Chris Klein with his arm up the rear end of a cow just doesn't make me laugh as it would if the brothers had directed "Say it isn't So" themselves. This new film is lacking warmth and life. It feels mechanical and slightly mean, something the Farrellys are incapable of being. Rogers is so preoccupied with fulfilling expectations that he forgets to establish himself as an individual talent.
Casting Klein in the lead role of Gilly might seem like the perfect choice on paper. He's a very handsome, amiable actor who can pull off the "everyman" role with incredible ease. And that's the main trouble with Klein. He's an extremely limited actor who spends the entire running time trying to oversell each and every joke. Had the casting been different, or if someone told Klein to sit back and let the writing do the work, "Say it isn't So" would've been far more successful.
Pairing up all-American Heather Graham is another great idea, but the screenplay doesn't have much to do with poor Jo. She basically reacts to the madness around her and disappears without much fanfare. Graham has showcased a gift for comedy in the past, but "Say it isn't So" doesn't allow her room to do much of anything. The same can be said of the supporting cast, which includes Sally Field and Richard Jenkins as Jo's parents, and the exceptional comedian Sarah Silverman as a local cop. They all have hysterical moments, but as a whole, the film doesn't live up to what they have to offer.
"Say it isn't So" does have a nice quick pace, yet it's at the expense of the overall plot. Giant leaps in the storytelling are all over this baby, including one whopper that has Gilly being drugged and sent to Mexico, only to be back in Oregon inexplicably two scenes later. The same odd choices and blocked flow was also apparent early on in the Farrelly's neo-classic "Me, Myself, & Irene," yet that film chose to accelerate the comedy after attempts at wrapping up the plot failed. "Say it isn't So" doesn't come to that realization. It sticks to the wacky plot rather religiously, even when said plot runs completely out of ideas (ex: the hand up the cow butt scene). Even the most jaded moviegoer will laugh out loud sporadically during "Say it isn't So" (we can even marvel at the birth of the term "Vaginatarian," which is sure to sweep college campuses everywhere), yet without the Farrelly Brothers steering the ship, this film is often lost at sea.
Filmfodder Grade: C