Touchstone Pictures // 2002 // 86 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // May 31st, 2002
The world's most dysfunctional Mafia family has a new weapon against the FBI.
I predict that by 2035, every single past and present Saturday Night Live cast member will have, at one point or another, starred in their own movie. The sad part about this statement is that most all of these films will have sucked on high. One of the relatively newer SNL members making the cinematic rounds is rubber faced funny man Chris Kattan (A Night At The Roxbury) as the runt of a powerful Mafia litter in the comedy Corky Romano. Also starring Peter Falk (Made), Chris Penn (Reservoir Dogs), Peter Berg (Aspen Extreme), and Fred Ward (Tremors 3: Back To Perfection), Corky Romano bounces onto DVD care of Touchstone Home Entertainment!
Meet Corky Romano (Kattan). Corky is a huggable, affectionate veterinarian-in-training who loves to sing along to the musical stylings of a-ha and Jennifer Warnes. Corky is also the outcast son to one of the most feared Mafia bosses around, the aging "Pops" Romano (Falk)! After Pops incurs a heart attack, he finds himself bedridden with an oxygen tube up his nose. Realizing that he's getting old ("I can't even remember doing half the shit they're trying to pin on me," he muses), Pops decides that he doesn't want to spend his remaining years in jail. With a trial coming up and the FBI holding onto some incriminating evidence against Pops, the decision is made to send in someone undercover to snag the evidence and save Pops' freedom! With the help of his two thuggish sons, the illiterate Paulie (Berg) and the repressed homosexual Peter (Penn), Pops enlists Corky as his FBI informant (Corky always thought Pops was a landscaper). With a new identity via a computer geek, Corky is assimilated into the FBI program where he meets his new boss (Richard "Shaft" Roundtree), rival Agent Brick Davis (Matthew Glave, Rock Star), and the tough yet sexy Agent Russo (Vinessa Shaw, Eyes Wide Shut). Now it's up to Corky to help save his father and the family "business" before he stumbles into too many undercover blunders!
I like Chris Kattan. He is a comedian void of all smugness and ego. There is a scene early on in Corky Romano where Corky accidentally gets caught in a billowing cloud of cocaine in the local FBI offices. Soon after, he's asked to talk in front of a group of visiting children who are expecting someone not quite so hyper. As Corky spastically makes his way to the podium, he can't help but squawk and wiggle like a man covered in spiders. This scene reminded me of why I think Kattan is one of the funniest players on SNL today; he is an elfish maniac who can make me giggle with just one goofy look.
Oh how I wish that I could say that about the rest of Corky Romano. Here is a movie so lazy in its comedic abilities that you begin to wonder why production wasn't shut down half way through. The film was obviously made as a starring vehicle for Kattan, though there are only flashes of Kattan's frantic energy throughout. We can easily lump this movie into the "the trailer had all the funny parts" group -- everyone remembers the preview featuring Kattan decked out in a Girl Scout's uniform asking gratingly, "You wanna buy some Girl Scout cookies?" No, what I wanted to buy was a funnier script.
These days it seems as if these quickie comedies are a dime a dozen. SNL players, hot teen properties, and gross out gags are all the fashion right now, and we're getting them in disgustingly large doses. Watching Corky Romano, I was challenged to wonder about how this idea came about. Did someone think that this retread of the old fish-out-of-water idea was funny? The dialogue and sequences feel slapped together as if the production crew was on a time crunch and the budget was running out. And what's with all this emphasis on CGI graphics even in goofy comedies? Like a small child who needs to take his new toy everywhere he goes, it seems as if Hollywood feels as if they can't make a movie without some computer generated effects somewhere in the film. Corky Romano is no exception.
The cast all appear to be showing up just because they were able to get the work. Peter Falk plays a role he could have done in his sleep. Chris Penn and Peter Berg as Corky's grumbling brothers bring no humor to their roles -- it's obvious that they aren't comedic actors by definition. While Penn sometimes parlays some well timed dialogue, Berg seems utterly lost. Fred Ward as Pops' right hand man also appears to be present only for the paycheck. Ward has shown that he has a talent for comedy with his funny turn in the Tremors series. It's as if Ward knew how mundane this material was and decided to just do what was needed and move on.
While I didn't have high hopes for Corky Romano, I thought it would be funnier than I anticipated. Against my better judgment, I liked Kattan's A Night At The Roxbury and the strange Monkeybone. Corky Romano just didn't make the cut.
Corky Romano is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Touchstone/Buena Vista has done a decent job of making sure this transfer appears solid and well defined. While I spotted instances of harsh edge enhancement in a few scenes, overall this is a nice looking image with solid blacks and vivid color levels. Corky Romano won't go down in DVD history as a reference quality disc, though it certainly looks better than the movie deserves.
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English. I was somewhat surprised at how underwhelming this soundtrack felt. There are some moments of 5.1 surround during a few scenes (especially where there are guns or explosions), though overall this is a fairly subdued track. Also included on this disc are English and French subtitles.
The extra features on Corky Romano are slim -- the only bonus materials available for fans are two extended scenes ("Corky Visits Skinheads" and "The Sparring Gym"), along with a short "Corky Romano: All Access" Featurette. The extended scenes are presented in a 95% finished non-anamorphic widescreen version and wouldn't have added anything to the final cut of the film. "Corky Romano: All Access" lasts around 12 minutes long and consists of an un-narrated look at the production of the film with first time (and possibly last time?) director Rob Pritts, Kattan, Penn, Berg, and other cast and crew members. This featurette is interesting for only a few minutes, then quickly becomes redundant. Also included is a sneak peek at the theatrical bomb Bubble Boy, but can we really count that as an "extra feature?"
I honestly think that with the right script and cast, Chris Kattan could make a classic comedy (his Mr. Peepers sketch on SNL is one of the funniest and most bizarre things I've ever seen). Let's just consider Corky Romano an exercise in getting Kattan ready for a funny movie. Touchstone/Buena Vista has done a decent job on this disc, though it's nothing extra special.
Corky Romano is sentenced to five years hard labor in the comedy rock quarry! Case dismissed!
Review content copyright © 2002 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Touchstone Pictures
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 86 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* "Corky Romano: All Access"
* Extended Scenes
* Theatrical Trailer for Bubble Boy