Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Decade of Dreck #11 – Corky Romano

corky_romano Charge Shot!!! is celebrating the end of the decade in the most masochistic way we know how - by watching and writing about the 100 worst movies of the last ten years as defined by film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Click here to see RT's complete list, click here for more about the Decade of Dreck project, and click here to see all of the movies we've done so far.

The mid-to-late 90s was an awkward time for Saturday Night Live.  As staples like Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, and the late Chris Farley moved on, Lorne Michaels was forced to rely on a new class, including Will Ferrell, Darrel Hammond, and Chris Kattan.  Of the three, Ferrell and Hammond have been the most successful.  Ferrell for his series of frat pack successes, and Hammond simply because he refuses to leave SNL.

What about Kattan?  When I was in high school, I voraciously consumed SNL reruns on Comedy Central and E!.  Kattan was featured regularly in those years, with memorable characters like Mango, Mr. Peepers, Azrael Abyss, and one of the Night at the Roxbury guys.  I have fond memories of Mango seducing Garth Brooks and Mr. Peepers spitting apple pieces on Jennifer Aniston’s face. 

Unfortunately, Kattan – like so many likable SNL alums – failed to parlay any of this into silver screen success.  A cursory glance at his Wiki filmography reveals that he was in a deleted scene in 2007’s Superbad.  Ouch.  How the moderately-funny have fallen. 

But before his star winked out for good, Kattan got his biggest shot with 2001’s Corky Romano.  If this was the best he had to offer, he never had a chance.

Corky Romano can’t decide what type of comedy it wants to be.  It opens with some bad detective movie parody: case files and newspaper clippings filling the audience in on the criminal Romano family.  It employs sped-up film tricks to create physical comedy (I might expect something like this from a show on the Disney Channel or, perhaps, an Adam Sandler film).  And it hinges on Date Movie-esque punchlines.  In short, it’s the stunted result of comedic inbreeding.

The plot is the least important thing at play here, but I’ll recount what I can.  The Romano family is under investigation from the FBI, and the stress of a recent trial put Papa Romano (a confused Peter Falk) in bed with a heart attack.  He needs someone to infiltrate the FBI and recover some racketeering evidence, but the only Romano family member unknown to the FBI is wannabe-veterinarian Corky (a hyper-kinetic, all-smiles Kattan).  A bunch of undercover shenanigans ensue wherein Corky succeeds at something by failing so hard it works.  In the end, more people than you thought were undercover and only the real bad guys get arrested and Corky saves the day and for some stupid reason gets the chick. 

I’m not sure where the fault lies on this one.  Is it that Kattan can’t carry the weight of project?  Possibly.  His body never stops moving.  In almost every scene, he finds some reason to move awkwardly, bump into something, and otherwise complicate ordinary motions.  None of this slapstick is particularly funny, which may explain why the filmmakers used the aforementioned speed-up-the-film-to-suggest-electrocution trick.  Still, it all results in some rather bland scenes.  The whole debacle could also be the fault of the team around Kattan.  You can’t expect on-screen sparks to fly when your antagonist is That Douchebag from The Wedding Singer (Matthew Glave).

At best, Corky Romano serves as a lesson in cheap comedic filmmaking.  A recurring (and by recurring I mean every other line of dialogue) joke is that Corky’s undercover last name is Pissant.  Hearing various FBI cohorts refer to him as Agent Pissant is never funny.  Late in the movie, Glave’s character enhances some surveillance photos using MS Paint.  There’s also a particularly awkward scene where Corky accidentally does cocaine and is then enlisted to speak to some elementary school kids about law enforcement.  It’s an awkward five minutes because it’s impossible to watch without realizing (in the spans of time when you were supposed to be laughing) that at least 50 100 however-many-people-it-takes-to-make-a-movie-like-this thought it was funny.

They were wrong.

Corky Romano is ranked #64 on the Rotten Tomatoes Worst 100 list with 5% freshness. Its RT page can be found here.