- The Washington Times - Friday, October 19, 2001

Never close to becoming a corker of a slapstick farce, "Corky Romano" ineptly aspires to showcase Chris Kattan, a "Saturday Night Live" fixture for several years, as an irresistible zany.

Hollywood luck is so perverse that Mr. Kattan enjoyed a far better showcase in a subordinate role in "Monkeybone," a resounding flop of 2000. If you're getting down an early bet on cult classics with Mr. Kattan, trust the monkey movie.

Animal life surrounds the title character at the outset because Corky is an assistant veterinarian in Florida. Allowed the run of the office, he promptly loses control, ending up in a tug of war with a client's ill-tempered cat, with another client's pet parrot as the tuggee.

Arguably, the incompleteness of this sight gag is corrected during a later tug between Corky and a police dog over a parcel of cocaine. At least there's a finish: The bag spills powder all over Corky and pooch, inducing hilarious contact highs.

Corky, it transpires, is the white-sheep kid brother in a family of Mafia thugs. Patriarch Peter Falk is in failing health and wants to beat a federal racketeering indictment.

According to Fred Ward's Uncle Leo, the brains of the family, the only solution is to infiltrate the naive and unknown Corky into the FBI. For reasons of solidarity that do Corky no credit, he agrees to cooperate in hopes of stealing all the crucial evidence that threatens his dad.

A bogus identity, under the code name Pissant (yet another taste barrier boldly hurdled by Hollywood's fearless humorists), supposedly compensates for self-evident ineptitude.

One sight gag neatly encapsulates the entire movie.

Getting even with his bullying older brothers, played by Chris Penn and Peter Berg, the hero bends over with his rump pointed at their faces and emits a muffled noise of contempt, requiring Mr. Kattan to grit his prodigious choppers in mock agony and determination. Similarly, director Rob Pritts and his colleagues do a lot of figurative bending over and grimacing to vent pathetic sputters of humorous flatulence.

All of Corky's adversaries, in and out of the family, turn into crybabies, making it somewhat easier to confuse the hero with an accidental crime-buster. Even that point is obscured because it amuses the filmmakers to blame all the crimes of the Romano family on an FBI informant while also mocking an uptight FBI agent played by Matthew Glave.

It's a relief to see Hollywood's genuine class loyalties reflected in something as trifling as a "Corky Romano." As a parting gesture of generosity, Don Romano even singles out homosexuals for his endorsement, covering that base just in case the always-touchy homosexual mob constituency should feel left out.

Presumably, all the self-respecting pressure groups in town paid modest amounts to be excluded from guilt by association with "Corky Romano."


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