Volume 3, Number 12
This Week's Reviews: Say It Isn't So, Someone Like You.
This Week's Omissions: The Brothers, Nico and Dani (Krampack).
|Say It Isn't So
(Dir: J.B. Rogers, Starring Chris Klein, Heather Graham, Orlando Jones, Sally Field, Richard Jenkins, John Rothman, Jack Plotnick, Eddie Cibrian, Sarah Silverman, Mark Pellegrino, Brent Hinkley, Henry Cho, Richard Riehle, Brent Briscoe, Lin Shaye, and Jackie Flynn)
BY: DAVID PERRY
When I wrote of enjoying the dumb goofiness of Chris Klein in Election, I never thought that he would have a future of movies that merely rewrote that role into a disarray of scenarios. He wanted to win an election in Election; then he wanted to lose his virginity in American Pie; then he wanted to steal the small town temptress in Down to Earth; and now he wants to marry the person purported to be his sister in Say It Isn't So. Ladies and gentlemen, he is the closest we have to modern Bobcat Goldthwaite, but, hey, with a purpose.
Klein is Gilly, an orphaned simpleton that lives his life as an animal catcher for the local pound in Shelbyville, Indiana. There is no doubt that he hasn't anything to speak of in his oversized head -- with an unchanging facial expression that looks like petrified wood -- and he seems quite happy with this. Enter Jo (Graham), the new hairdresser in the town. She is just as dumb; as fate would have it, but does not really realize it. Wait, two dumb people in the same tiny population, must be kismet.
Of course, through some mishaps (to keep it short: he finds her cat, she cuts his hair, he tells her this find, she cuts the top of his ear off) they come together and make a great couple. Jo's mother, Valdine (Field), is absolutely appalled that her daughter would allow herself to be debased by being courted by a dog catcher (if that were possible considering the horrible disposition that Valdine brings to her family). Nevertheless, Jo and Gilly consummate become engaged and consummate the relationship. Moments later, Gilly learns from his private inspector that his real mother is Valdine; the two are siblings.
Boo-hoo, it's the end of the world for these two lovers -- in-breeding really does not sound too bad for Gilly, but Jo is defiant against this and runs away, returning to her former fiancé Jack (Cibrian) in Beaver, Oregon. Gilly stays with his newfound mom and stroke-victim father (Jenkins; who's addition to the film is merely by speaking vulgarities through an electronic collar). Then, the bomb falls: Valdine's real son returns and shows that Gilly is merely an imposter living on mom and pop. With this information, Gilly heads to Oregon in hopes of catching Jo before she marries Jack. The big problem, though, is that Valdine has already reported to the Beaver police that there is a sexual deviant on the way, making Gilly's life in the town a type of trip from hell.
Ok, first up, I'm not a huge supporter of the legalization of marijuana in America, but I have a big problem with this film creating a villain out of Jack by merely showing that he makes cannabis and sells it. So what, there are far worse things to do, and beyond that, he is a great person to the townsfolk of Beaver, cleaning them up so that the government will not look into what he is doing at home. Valdine is the only truly evil person in the entire film (ok, with the exception of three dimwitted henchmen that are as inconsequential as, well, this film) -- I can understand the vilification that occurs on her, but Jack? All he does is grow marijuana; it was only a year ago that we sympathized with Brenda Blethyn in Saving Grace when she had to go into the same business.
Director J.B. Rogers is another child of the Farrelly Brothers mode of comedy -- in fact he was their assistant director on all their films. The only problem is that he does not understand what makes the Farrelly Brothers films work so often. It's like when Robert Zemeckis came off of his work with Steven Spielberg and Alan Rudolph with Robert Altman, too often not understanding why your mentors succeed is the main reason that you fail. It's tough to compare to the Farrelly classics like There's Something About Mary and Kingpin, but a disgraceful directorial debut like this is not something that should have come from the little bit that he picked up from his teachers. At least Zemeckis' I Wanna Hold Your Hand and Rudolph's Welcome to L.A. were not this bad.
What Rogers does not understand is that it is not enjoyable to see someone go though a non-stop helping of embarrassment. The Farrelly Brothers understand that having people go through Hell has to be redeeming. Notice the way they Cameron Diaz and Ben Stiller are humiliated in There's Something About Mary but saved or do not realize it -- we go to the comedies for a laugh, sometimes at the expense of someone else, but never in such a pathetic, sadistic way as is found in Say It Isn't So. For screenwriters Peter Gaulke and Gerry Swallow (both first-timers) haven't a clue that giving something redeeming to a person as they are soiled on is an important part of the Farrelly book of filmmaking.
The marketing team behind Say It Isn't So has
chosen to refer to it as "from the makers of There's Something About Mary."
Yeah, the Farrelly Brothers produced, but I'd say that we're talking about that Wes Craven
type of producing credit, where the name is about all that is given to the movie from the
'producers.' At least, I hope so -- I expect more out of these two than to have some
creative control on a mess like this.
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|Someone Like You
(Dir: Tony Goldwyn, Starring Ashley Judd, Hugh Jackman, Greg Kinnear, Ellen Barkin, Marisa Tomei, LeAnna Croom, and Matthew Coyle)
BY: DAVID PERRY
In the motion picture calendar, the last nine months of 2000 and first three of 2001 can be called the year of the cow. This is not some realization of India's devotion to bovines -- in fact all cows of this period have been in a negative light. Beyond merely the Foot and Mouth Disease that is raging England, cows have been shot at and run over for the Coen Brothers with O Brother, Where Art Thou?, one cow saw the wrath of Jim Carrey's two sides in Me, Myself & Irene, and Chris Klein jams his arm up the anus of a cow for Say It Isn't So. Nevertheless, the degredation doesn't end -- for now we have Ashley Judd in Someone Like You equating cows to human males. Oh, the humanity!
Someone Like You is definitely a film for women, in fact I cannot see a single self-respecting man finding any light in this film, which creates male stereotypes only to make its egregiously flawed females seem superior. I'm all for some equality in movies, and will admit that more often then not it's the female characters that are stereotypes in films, but that is no reason for a double-standard. The across the board brow-beating that occurs in Someone Like You is deplorable -- I am completely lost in the fact that a man (actor Tony Goldwyn, who made his lackluster debut with A Walk on the Moon two years ago). I can certainly see people disregarding this review as some chauvinistic diatribe, but I can seriously state that the film isn't even that great once you get beyond the male bashing.
Ashley Judd plays Jane Goodale, who, after being dumped by the supposed love of her life, begins researching in the mating habits of the human male (get it, Jane Goodall -- men = chimps). She happens to work at cheesy Oprah-like talk show that would make Kelsey Grammer's Top Story in 15 Minutes look like fine broadcast journalism. This show, hosted by Ellen Barkin's Diane Roberts, brings on right-wing speakers to accuse them of hypocrisy and further female empowerment.
Jane's job is part of the brainstorming staff -- along with Diane, her secretary, and two men, they come up with the topics that will fill the show. The two males fulfill the two stereotypes, there's Ray (Kinnear) a charmer that seems to have tapped into the female psyche and looks like the perfect catch; and there's Eddie (Jackman) a womanizer that seeps into and out of the beds of every woman he can find. The problem is that Jane's been dumped by Ray and finds solace in Eddie -- not the best ordering of the two men.
All the while, Jane works on a theory: the mating habits of men are equal to those of cows. Simply put, males, like the head bull of a herd, choose not to want a woman once he has already had her. Women are disposable to men and monogamy is an impossibility. And, thanks to having friend Liz (Tomei) who works at the city's largest men's magazine, Jane gets a chance to write an informed essay on her theory. Of course, who will read the anti-male ranting of some women's talk show producer in a men's magazine? For that reason, Liz and Jane create a writer -- some elderly European woman who has a doctorate in the mating rituals of the male species -- and fail to think what this creation really entails. Of course, the essay becomes huge and everyone, including Diane Roberts, wants to interview this esteemed doctor -- not knowing that the real writer is sitting in the office of one of the shows.
If anything comes from this film, it is the ongoing nailing on the coffin representing Ashley Judd's acting career. She does show a sweet side, something not present in the femme from Eye of the Beholder and the vandetta-driven mother in Double Jeopardy, but there is not enough to ensure a career that might stand up against, say, Julia Roberts. Of course, this may very well be a bad period in her career (like Roberts in her Mary Reilly, Something to Talk About, I Love Trouble, Prêt-à-Porter period) but those Judd movies that have come along for the last few years have been really bad.
Hugh Jackman and Greg Kinnear sufficiently mar their respective filmographies. Jackman's new to the industry, but this is not the film to follow Wolverine in X-Men, a potential star making role. I know that I was little shocked when his name popped up in the cast list -- this is just not the role he was born to play. And this is not the first blemish for Kinnear, he gives them to us about as steadily as he makes respectable films, but I do hate to see him giving a bad performance. Even in films like Mystery Men and Loser, Kinnear came out with some respect having given performances that were somewhat respectable - not here, though, he gives about as much weight to Ray as Freddie Prinze, Jr., might have given. Ok, perhaps he was not that bad, but still nothing to note.
Nevertheless, the failure that is Someone Like You
should not be blamed on its performers -- this is all the mess of screenwriter Elizabeth
Chandler and the oh-so-quirky direction of Goldwyn. This movie is one of those that leaves
most of the audience aghast in the storm of eccentricity that occurs. Believe me, you
don't have to have a y-chromosome to dislike Someone Like You.
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