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Corky Romano
cast: Chris Kattan, Peter Berg, Chris Penn, Richard Roundtree, and Fred Ward

director: Rob Pritts

85 minutes (12) 2001
Touchstone VHS rental

RATING: 5/10
reviewed by Emma French
Exporting the acquired taste comedy of the long running American hit comedy show Saturday Night Live to the UK has always been difficult. British film critics tend to have a predisposition towards granting the films a bad reception, at least in part because the crossover from TV sketch to feature film has been notoriously patchy, from the triumphant Wayne's World to an abysmal recent offering, The Ladies' Man. Corky Romano is predictably hit and miss, but after a dire start provides a number of involuntary belly laughs in the rest of the movie. The feeble plot concerns a veterinarian's assistant, estranged third son of a gangster family, who is called upon to go undercover in the FBI to purloin incriminating evidence against his aged Mafia boss father, gloriously overplayed by Peter Falk. This storyline offers as little in the way of laughs as might be expected, and consequently the exposition-heavy first half of the film is poorly scripted and terminally unfunny.
   Chris Kattan, playing the eponymous antihero, radiates indecision concerning which role he wishes to play. His moments of high camp inevitably recall his most celebrated Saturday Night Live incarnation, Mango, a mincing exhibitionist whose dancing holds both genders in helpless thrall to his effeminate charms. At other times his patent physical vulnerability and quirky take on life reprise his role in A Night At The Roxbury. The film suffers from a lack of both ambition and generic decisiveness, content to veer aimlessly from farce to gangster thriller to satire without many signposts for the viewer along the way. It is the debut feature film by director Rob Pritts and his inexperience shows. However, such a broad sphere of cinematic reference does suggest that this film was an original concept, rather than a disastrous feature-length extension of a brief and effective Saturday Night Live sketch. Regrettably, this film is not a classic SNL ensemble piece - Norm MacDonald, Jimmy Fallon and Molly Shannon are amongst the contemporaries of Kattan who would have been welcome cameo additions to Corky Romano.
   Copious jokes about homosexuality in this film are childish but inoffensive, and delivered with considerably more heart and tolerance than the sly homophobia of most films of this ilk: Chris Penn's performance as Corky's sexually repressed gay gangster brother is a plausible mixture of grandstanding and frustrated misery. The physical comedy is much less effective than the verbal gags. Incredibly, after a century of cinema, jokes about flatulence and hazards to genitalia still appear to possess comedic currency, and they appear with depressing persistence in this picture. Still, there is sufficient good material here, from the tense resuscitation of a hostage dog to the preposterous final dénouement scene, to provide 85 minutes of mindless enjoyment.