Like the "Scream"-induced teen-horror revival of the late Nineties, it seems that the 'gross out' comedy movement instigated by "There's Something About Mary" has run its course, with each successive entry inching the genre ever closer to creative bankruptcy. "Say It Isn't So" is a case in point, a so-called comedy which succeeds in not soliciting a single chuckle throughout its entire 93-minute running time. Unfortunately, like "American Pie" and "Whatever It Takes", it's clearly evident that some filmmakers have yet to learn the distinction between 'gross' and 'funny'.
In a nutshell, the plot revolves around the romance between a hapless dog catcher named Gilly Noble (Chris Klein of "Election") and an attractive, but inept, hairdresser named Jo Wingfield (Heather Graham of "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me"). Despite an initial meeting marred by Jo accidentally slicing off part of Gilly's ear, they quickly fall in love with plans to get married, despite the objectives of Jo's gold-digging mother, Valdine (Sally Field of "Where the Heart Is"), who would prefer to see her daughter marry Jack (Eddie Cibrian of TV's "Third Watch"), a well-to-do businessman from Beaver, Oregon (hardee-har-har).
There's only one problem though-- it turns out that Gilly happens to be Jo's long-lost brother, who was given up for adoption not long after birth. Thus, Gilly becomes the butt of jokes of the local townspeople for committing incest, while Jo runs back to Beaver to settle down with Jack. However, when Jo's real long-lost brother (Jack Plotnick of "Mystery Men") shows up and Gilly realizes the error that has been made, he heads off to Oregon to win back the love of his life, suffering the wrath of both Valdine and Jack along the way.
From the film's marketing, you would think that "Say It Isn't So" is the brainchild of the Farrelly brothers. Unfortunately, the founding fathers of the gross out genre serve only as producers this time out, having turned the reins over to their occasional assistant director and producing partner James B. Rogers, as well as newbie writers Peter Gaulke and Gerry Swallow. Unfortunately, in the hands of this second-string talent, "Say It Isn't So" is a painful film to sit through, with one comic misfire after another. The jokes hit the usual Farrelly brother targets, such as bodily functions, sex, and indignities against the handicapped, only instead of being funny, they are painfully embarrassing.
The actor who suffers the most is Chris Klein, who is the target of several long-running gags, which is exacerbated by a wooden performance that makes Keanu Reeves ("The Matrix") look like a master thespian. Heather Graham, whose only purpose in the film seems to be serving as eye candy, shares no chemistry with her supposed love interest. Ensuring that the disabled are provided an equal opportunity for tasteless gags, Farrelly brothers regular Walter Jenkins (last seen in "Me, Myself, and Irene") shows up as Valdine's wheelchair-bound husband, while Orlando Jones ("Double Take") is similarly debased as a double-amputee pilot who helps Gilly out. But the most painful performance to watch is Sally Field, who has fallen down a long way since her halcyon "Norma Rae" days.
It only took a couple of years for the teen-horror genre to run aground in the wake of "Scream" and its would-be imitators, and it seems that the death knell for the gross out comedy is already underway. Like the Farrelly brothers' own "Outside Providence", "American Pie", and "Scary Movie", "Say It Isn't So" is a story in search of a punch-line, and is only successful in driving another nail into a coffin that's long overdue.