Dir: Rob Pritts. US 2001. 104 minutes

Children are taught never to call anyone or anything "stupid," a word which all parents for some reason find objectionable. With that in mind, let it be said that the film Corky Romano has one of the lowest IQs in recent memory --probably since the last movie which was built around a star from the long-running TV show Saturday Night Live. In this case, the SNL alumnus is perky Chris Kattan, playing the black sheep of a dysfunctional organized crime family, who is called upon to rescue dad from the clutches of the FBI. Presumably, the picture is aimed at fans of Kattan, but it's difficult to imagine the physical pratfalls and grade school humour appealing to anyone over the age of 12. Commercial prospects look dim for this dim-witted comedy.

Kattan's Corky Romano (rhymes with Tony Soprano) is a relentlessly cheerful assistant veterinarian who was disowned by his mobster father (Falk, slumming) and brothers (Peter Berg and Chris Penn) years ago for not fitting the family mold. A relentlessly cheerful soul (as bouncy and smiley as exercise guru Richard Simmons and only slightly less irritating), Corky returns to the fold when his father is arrested by the FBI for a variety of nefarious deeds. He goes undercover as a fed (don't ask) to abscond with the incriminating evidence. Along the way he becomes infatuated with a fellow agent (Shaw) and the target of another's suspicions that he isn't a bona fide undercover operator.

The humor here consists of such low brow antics as having Corky's brothers put a wire on him so that they can listen in to the feds. They place it in his pants and Corky spends the rest of the film bent over, talking to his crotch, thinking this is the only way the concealed microphone will pick up his voice. Kattan is known for his Jerry Lewis-like physical shtick and here he - or, rather, the script - falls back on such tired routines as getting his hand caught in a driverless moving car and having to run alongside the vehicle as it careers down the street. Another time he turns into a veritable Mexican jumping bean after inadvertently inhaling a pound of cocaine.

As much a portrait of a dysfunctional family as it is a riff on mob movies, Corky Romano is little more than a series of overly broad sketches of Corky stumbling his way through life. The script aims for silly rather than clever, which is perfectly legitimate, but the best one can say about the resulting humor is that it's harmless and isn't mean-spirited. Unfortunately, it also isn't terribly funny, which has nothing whatsoever to do with the type of humor it champions and everything to do with the poorly conceived and written script.

Kattan seems to have an innate sweetness which manages to peek through the silly script, although not enough to redeem the film by any means. Either the age level of Saturday Night Live viewers has dropped precipitously - or the IQ level has - if this film is meant to attract them.

Pro co: Touchstone Pictures
US dist: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
Intl dist: Buena Vista International
Prod: Robert Simonds
Scr: David Garrett & Jason Ward
Cinematographer: Steven Bernstein, ASC
Pro des: Peter Politanoff
Ed: Alan Cody
Music: Randy Edelman
Main cast: Chris Kattan, Vinessa Shaw, Peter Falk, Richard Roundtree