That’s not funny
If you compile a list of things that make you go “Ha, ha!” and incest and limbs up a cow’s ass reside somewhere near the top, then you may have yourself a rollicking good time at Say It Isn’t So. For the rest of us, this is pretty much another slog through an unfunny, useless comedic hell.
A small-town dogcatcher named Gilly (Chris Klein) falls for a hairdresser named Jo (Heather Graham). Shortly after bedtime hijinks, the two find out they are brother and sister. Jo leaves for Oregon to marry her rich ex-boyfriend, and a disgraced Gilly stays behind, eventually finding out that Jo is not his sister (big surprise), taking off on a crusade to get her back.
What this film amounts to is an excuse to throw out a bunch of incest jokes, while keeping things politically correct, because incest never really occurs. Through some devious lies by Jo’s mother (a painfully bad Sally Field), people in Jo’s Oregon town are led to believe Gilly is indeed her “sister-screwing” brother, and he is targeted as a sex offender. While the sight of Chris Klein’s smiling mugshot over the words “sex offender” garners a chuckle, the hick comments on having carnal knowledge of one’s sibling wear thin fast.
Because this is produced by the Farrelly brothers and directed by James B. Rogers, their protégé, you can expect far more disgusting things than incest to traipse their way across the screen. In the spirit of There’s Something About Mary‘s jokes about the handicapped, Richard Jenkins plays Jo’s stroke-ridden father, complete with robotic voice box and profuse drooling.
While I did laugh at one drooling instance, this is an example of a character that warrants one, maybe two scenes at the most. Instead, Rogers uses him throughout the film, and his character starts to come off as more grotesque than funny.
This may sound a bit strange, but it is essential to employ at least the slightest bit of subtlety when depicting a man getting his arm stuck in a cow’s ass. The blunt fashion in which this unfortunate sequence involving Klein is filmed is a good example of what’s wrong with this entire movie. The writers may have dreamed up some funny sequences on paper, but the jackhammer approach on screen is often unwatchable.
The beauty of the Farrellys’ earlier films (Kingpin, There’s Something About Mary) is that their gross jokes (the cow-milking sequence from Kingpin comes to mind) featured beautiful timing and crucial editing.
The folks putting this movie together have no sense of nuance, timing or where to draw the line. While the Farrellys didn’t direct here, they were involved, and this movie represents a further decline from their mediocre Mary follow-up, Me Myself & Irene. Let’s hope their next directing job, Shallow Hal starring Jack Black, gets things back on track.
As for the actors in this film, none of them should walk away proud. Orlando Jones (he of the 7-Up commercials) gets a few laughs as a crazed cargo pilot with no legs. Heather Graham spends much of this film crying realistically, which is about the last thing I want to see in a comedy. Klein, who was so great in Election, doesn’t embarrass himself, even if he does spend a good chunk of the film up to his shoulder in a cow’s ass.
So there goes another chance to get some good laughs at the movies. With this movie and Heartbreakers, we’ve been assaulted with two depressingly bad comedies. Say It Isn’t So labors under the notion that unyielding pain and embarrassment is funny, but when it’s directed on screen in such a poor fashion, nothing could be further from the truth.