Is it just me, or is Chris Kattan kind of cute? Okay, it’s just me. Okay, he’s not really cute… at all. But, hey, he sure is funny. Which is a good thing, because if he weren’t, there would be absolutely nothing positive to say about his new flick, Corky Romano.
Despite Kattan’s comic abilities, Corky Romano proves he’s much better suited for supporting roles than he is for the spotlight. Characters like Mango, his peculiar Saturday Night Live persona, best display Kattan’s bizarre form of physical comedy. He was the sole bright spot in the dismal Monkeybone, in a brief but hilarious role as a dead gymnast. Here, as the main attraction, he flounders.
Less a movie than a series of implausible situations designed to showcase Kattan’s spastic talents, Corky is the story of an incompetent veterinarian’s assistant called upon by his ailing father (Peter Falk, doing his best Peter Falk impersonation) to help save the family. It turns out the family is really a family; Corky is shocked to learn his father leads a crime organization and is about to be sent to prison for life. Working undercover, Corky infiltrates the FBI in order to destroy the evidence against his father, setting up a string of lame and predictable fish-out-of-water scenarios that see Corky – a.k.a. Agent Pissant (“pee-SONT, it’s French!”) – inadvertently rising through the ranks of the FBI. Aiding Corky are his two mobster brothers, functionally illiterate Paulie (Peter Berg) and closeted homo Peter (Chris Penn).
The film relies on gay jokes for most of its laughs, but its prehistoric sensibility works against it . Unlike Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, or even Big Daddy, which found intelligent ways of making gay jokes while mocking homophobia, Corky simply presents acting gay as funny. Consequently, we’re subjected to an entirely gay FBI, a gay-acting serial killer, and some gay mobsters. It’s not amusing, only puzzling: who thought this could pass for comedy?
The blame lies squarely on first-time director Rob Pritts, whose previous resume lists only commercials. This explains the movie’s episodic nature – scenes of varying style come and go at a dizzying pace. At different times, Corky comes off as a complete buffoon and a misunderstood savant . To his credit, Kattan attacks each scene with gusto. Periodically, he elicits some genuine laughs by sheer force of will. Unfortunately for him, though, the script is truly a sow’s ear, and no amount of convulsive pratfalls could ever make it anything else.