With the statement “From the guys who brought you ‘There’s Something About Mary'” playing a prominent role in its ad campaign, “Say It Isn’t So” has the surface appearance of being, like the Farrellys’ other work, a lowbrow comedy with actual wit to leaven the bodily function humor. The reality is, the brothers simply serve as producers on this, yet another would-be comedy that mistakes cheap shock value for hilarity.
For a half hour, though, director J.B. Rogers and writers Peter Gaulke and Gerry Swallow appear on track for something that had promise to be, at the very least, amusingly subversive. Sad sack dog catcher Gilly (Chris Klein), who has been living on his own for as long as he could remember, finally finds someone to be with when he meets Jo (Heather Graham), a hairdresser. That their courtship begins with Jo cutting off Gilly’s ear appears to be a hopeful harbinger of twisted laughs to come.
But the arrival of the film’s primary hook–the discovery that Gilly could actually be Jo’s long-lost brother–also marks when the film stops dead. Theoretically, this should be when the film kicks into high gear, a launch pad for even more outrageous turns, but Rogers and the writers simply content themselves with the incest joke for the remainder of the running time. Even after Gilly finds out the whole thing has been a ploy by Jo’s mother (Sally Field, slumming, to say the least) to break up the pair, the audience is (for lack of a better word), the brother/sister gags continue, with an occasional gross-out bit appearing to somewhat break the monotony. Those jokes, while unrelated to the incest theme, don’t break the film’s other monotony–that of being unfunny.
Klein is a natural for clueless, slack-jawed roles, as seen in “Election” and “American Pie,” but his character here has no interesting qualities to counteract the do-gooder blandness; Graham’s Jo is also quite boring. The designated “colorful” characters aren’t: Dig (Orlando Jones), a legless, Jimi Hendrix-ish pilot who helps Gilly try to win Jo back, elicits faint smiles at best; Field’s white trash mama is shrill; and Jo’s wealthy, duplicitous fiancé Jack (Eddie Cibrian) barely registers as a character, let alone as the central bad guy.
As the movie lumbers toward its finale (which, I must concede, does feature one of the film’s few inspired jokes) with one comic misfire after another, “Say It Isn’t So” proves to be an all too apt title.