Retro Review: Say it Isn’t So

Written: March 24, 2001

It truly is amazing when you believe that gross-out comedies have worn out their welcome and then you see “Say It Isn’t So”. I mean Hollywood has been cracking out so many of these comedies that I am not sure if we are supposed to cringe or laugh hysterically. There have been some really bad ones that I did cringe at and others that have been some of my favorite comedies in recent years. Some of the bad ones have to be “Me, Myself and Irene”, “Outside Providence” and “Deuce Bigelow”. But some of the laugh riots are easily “American Pie”, “Something About Mary”, “Meet the Parents” and “Dumb and Dumber”. I am happy to report that “Say It Isn’t So” falls into the laugh riot chapter.

Gilly Noble (Chris Klein) and Jo Wingfield (Heather Graham) are star-crossed lovers who learn that they are brother and sister just after they have consummated their love for each other. Gilly screams the film’s title and it seems that the couples love is destined for ruin. Jo eventually ends up moving back to Beaver, Oregon to marry her ex-boyfriend.

Jo’s mother (Sally Field) couldn’t be more delighted that her prized daughter can’t marry the financially struggling Gilly. She jokes with her stroke-victim husband (Richard Jenkins) that there is no way that her daughter will marry an animal shelter employee.

When Gilly learns that the whole incest thing with Jo is a case of mistaken identity it forces him to race against time to drive to Oregon and stop Jo from marrying.

“Say It Isn’t So” is one of those comedies that will have you hiding your eyes and screaming with laughter. The jokes are a little embarrassing and shocking but you won’t really care as you howl with glee. There are hardly any subject or confrontation of humor in this film that isn’t a little controversial but it doesn’t stop the writers from making fun of it. The writers are just so inventive and have wonderful reactionary actors to play off of that its no wonder that the film really works. That film element reminded me a lot of the way the Farrellys were with “Dumb and Dumber” and “Something About Mary”. Even though the Farrellys only produced this picture their touch and comedic element is definitely at work here.

My only problem with this film was the length. It’s only like 90 minutes but I only felt that there was 60 minutes of jokes in a 90 minute plot. I know we all need time to breathe but when you see the film you will definitely notice the pauses.


Other small problems could be blamed on Field being to obnoxious and the central bad guy being to cardboard but if you stick to the laughs this film does try to flow past these little flaws.

My favorite performances in this film were Jo’s father, played by Richard Jenkins, and Gilly’s hitchhiker friend, played by Orlando Jones. Jones is a huge scene-stealer as Klein’s stubby companion. The jokes and situations they put Orlando through are a riot. His reactions and acting is a lot like his classic sketch portrayals on MAD TV.

As for Jenkins, he is a real gem in here as the character who has to put up with Field’s obnoxious mother character. In a lot of the scenes he does hardly anything but always gets the punchline. Jenkins is great at keeping Field’s over the top performance of the mother in check. That’s a great relief.

As for the film’s leads, they have great chemistry and it reminded me a lot of Ben Stiller and Cameron Diaz in “Something About Mary”. I loved Klein’s innocent shmuck who he plays beautifully. He is a great straight man for all the antics happening around him. The writers put this guy through a lot.

With both of the leads moving on to more dramatic parts in the coming months, it will be nice to remember that they are wonderful in comedy as well. And what a surprise this little comedy was.

(3 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.

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