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'Corky Romano'

'Corky Romano' is as dumb as it looks

Friday, October 12, 2001

By Ron Weiskind, Post-Gazette Movie Editor

Adult men portraying characters who are the intellectual and emotional equivalent of a 5-year-old are seldom funny -- except maybe to a 5-year old or its intellectual and emotional equivalent.

 
 
'Corky Romano'

RATING: PG-13 for drug and sex-related humor, and for language.

STARRING: Chris Kattan, Peter Falk.

DIRECTOR: Rob Pritts.

WEB SITE: bventertainment.go.com/
movies/corkyromano

CRITIC'S CALL:

   
 

OK, I realize I've just insulted most of Adam Sandler's fans. I'd say the same for Pauly Shore fans, but they're beyond insult. So let's turn now to aficionados of Chris Kattan, the rubber-faced smug boy from "Saturday Night Live" who plays the title role in "Corky Romano."

Speaking of insults, a character in the movie uses the slur word for gay people that doubles as a slang word for cigarettes. The title character, whose name ends in a vowel, is the only member of his family who is not in organized crime.

It tries to create sympathy for the patriarch (Peter Falk) by contending he's guilty only of money laundering and loan sharking, not anything serious like kidnapping or murder. It asks you to believe the FBI couldn't spot an impostor in its own ranks, especially one who wears loud ties and clowns around a lot.

If the movie actually made you laugh consistently, some of this wouldn't matter. But most of the alleged comedy involves smarmy sight gags like Corky pulling a long snake through the zipper of his pants; Corky's klutziness, which usually triggers a chain reaction of destruction; Corky's incongruity in almost any situation, whether he's posing as an FBI agent, dealing with his violent and hostile siblings or bungling his job as a veterinarian's assistant; Kattan's insistence on contorting his face into a pop-eyed grin that looks like he's trying to swallow a piano keyboard, a countenance that all but screams, "Look at me!"

OK, so maybe he's not the best choice to infiltrate the FBI and purloin the files on Pops Romano. But the family has no choice -- the feds would recognize Corky's brothers, illiterate Paul (Peter Berg) and latent homosexual Peter (Chris Penn). A faked resume not only gets him in, it results in his assignment to an elite task force trying to catch a murderous drug dealer.

The humorless squad leader, Brick Davis (Matthew Glave), resents Corky and tries to arrange his ouster. But the boss, Agent Shuster (Richard Roundtree), and the others, including Agent Kate Russo (Vinessa Shaw), with whom Corky becomes smitten, misinterpret Corky's incompetence as eccentric brilliance, especially when it gets results -- quite by accident, of course.

The movie's tone stumbles about almost as much as Corky himself, mixing the character's preening childishness with drug jokes, toilet humor and the violent nastiness of brothers Paul and Peter. Kids may want to see it for the silliness, but note the PG-13 rating.

The screenplay, by TV writers David Garrett and Jason Ward, seems an afterthought. So do the characters, who start to develop only toward the end of the movie, when it is far too late. Brick Davis whining about not getting enough attention from his boss constitutes one of the few times when adult men acting juvenile actually earns a chuckle. So does Corky finally acting like a grownup, and the Romano brothers at last acknowledging their shortcomings, and the dizzying chain of confusion that results when Corky's dual identity meets itself head on.

But to make the whole movie like that would be too much work. "Corky Romano" is just another widget off the Disney assembly line that employs a first-time director (Rob Pritts) and screenwriters executing the vision of producer Robert Simonds, responsible for such swill as "Problem Child," "Screwed" and several Adam Sandler comedies. It figures. Judging from his movies, Simonds is 37, going on 6.

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