Ever hear the one about the pic that was too bad to be released, so it escaped? Well, that old joke now has a new punch line: “It’s Pat,” a shockingly unfunny “Saturday Night Live” spinoff that Disney plans to unleash today in limited regional engagements. A quick fade to homevid is likely.
Julia Sweeney is co-writer as well as the star of this no-joke comedy based on her one-joke “SNL” sketches about an androgynous eccentric.
But Sweeney, who first invented the character while a member of the L.A.-based Groundlings comedy troupe, has almost perversely turned the relatively harmless TV character into a boorish, egotistical creep for the bigscreen. Fans of the “SNL” sketches will be disappointed. Non-fans won’t bother.
Under the inconspicuous direction of musicvid veteran Adam Bernstein in his feature debut, “It’s Pat,” like the skits, rests entirely on a single gag: Neighbors, co-workers and casual acquaintances find it hard to decide, and impossible to ask, whether Pat — a frumpish figure in short-cropped hair and asexual attire — is male or female.
Pat finds a soulmate in Chris (David Foley of TV’s “Kids in the Hall”), whose hippie-ish clothing and hairstyling is every bit as gender-unspecific as Pat’s, while a straight-arrow neighbor, Kyle (Charles Rocket), becomes so obsessed with Pat that he doesn’t even care whether the object of his affection is a he or a she.
Film relies heavily on verbal and visual gags that run the gamut from the painfully obvious to the grossly crude. Typical of the pic’s humor is a scene in which Pat, briefly employed in a sushi restaurant, sneezes messy mucus onto a diner’s order.
Pic’s only really funny bit is “Sexual Personae” author Camille Paglia, deftly parodying herself, commenting on the significance of Pat’s androgyny.
Sweeney whines and snorts her way through as Pat, while Foley is easier to take as a much more engaging character. Rocket chews up the scenery and his lines with shameless gusto.
Michelle Minch’s production design is genuinely clever. Other tech credits are average.