The idea behind the Don’t Watch It, John! series is to find cinema that’s so rotten, so foul, so incredibly fetid that no other human being would dare recommend it to another human being. So why on earth would I watch this stuff? I like to think of myself much like Colonel Nathan Jessup in A Few Good Men. We live in a world that has horrible movies, and those horrible movies have to be kept from potential viewers. Who’s gonna do it? You? You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That someone watching movies like It’s Pat, while tragic, probably saves lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You want me on that wall, you need me on that wall, protecting you from the cinematic horrors of the world. The horror I’m protecting you from today is a Saturday Night Live sketch-turned-movie. It’s time for androgyny, It’s Pat (1994).
What is It’s Pat? The plot description on Netflix:
Having taken androgyny to a hilarious level on “Saturday Night Live,” Pat (Julia Sweeney) continues to befuddle in this full-length feature. Pat’s co-workers are still trying to figure out Pat’s gender, and so is Kyle (Charles Rocket), a puzzled suitor who’s nevertheless smitten and determined to get at the truth. Only Chris (Dave Foley), Pat’s hippie friend who’s just as mysterious, is Pat’s truly understanding ally.
Who stars in this cinematic monstrosity? SNL cast member Julia Sweeney plays the androgynous hero (or is that shero?), and Dave Foley of Kids in the Hall fame is the love interest. There are also cameos from Tim Meadows, Ween, Kathy Griffin, and that actress from My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Amazingly, Quentin Tarantino helped make it, in some (fittingly) ambiguous way, since he and Sweeney are friends.
The Stats: It’s Pat comes in with a user average of 2.5 out of 10 on IMDb, which places it tied for #95 in the IMDb Bottom 100. It’s tied with Troll 2 (1990) and something called Phat Girlz (2006), which should give you a frame of reference for quality. It has a 0% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Of the 11 critics willing to attach their name to a review of this movie, not one of them has given it a positive review.
The Review: It took less than two minutes for me to realize that I was about to drown in a flood of “him or her” jokes. I expected some of that, of course, since that’s the gag behind the titular character. I’d had mild hopes that the writers would eventually abandon it for other forms of humor and to flesh out the story. There was no such luck. Once I came to that realization, I decided to start tracking three things: the number of jokes revolving around Pat’s mysterious gender identity, the number of times I laughed, and the number of times I laughed specifically at the gender identity jokes.
For clarification, I’m defining a joke as any line or visual gag that is intended to make the audience laugh. There could easily be 3 or 4 “jokes” in 3 minutes of dialogue. In less than 90 minutes of film, Pat’s ambiguous gender was used as a punchline 60 times. SIXTY! I didn’t laugh at any of those 60 (and there were even two more in the credits), though I did find myself chuckling or guffawing eight other times. Most of the laughs for me revolved around Pat’s obsessed neighbor and his ridiculous behavior.
Therein lies the problem with most SNL sketches when they head to the big screen. One-note jokes work great in a 5 minute sketch. They’re a horrible idea for a full-length film. Some have managed to overcome it (The Blues Brothers clearly comes to mind), but It’s Pat would seem to be the biggest offender. There are far too many on-the-nose, groan-worthy moments. Prime example: Pat singing “Dude Looks Like a Lady”. Even if you do find an audience that will laugh a few times at the androgyny jokes, rolling it out there 60 times will make anyone lose interest. The only thing I’ll budge on a bit is that I think Julia Sweeney and Dave Foley did a good job in their respective roles, even if Sweeney was one of the creators of… it.
It’s Pat is worthy of its place in the IMDb Bottom 100 in every way. If anything, I’m surprised it’s not higher on the list. What’s worse is that it was obviously a cash-grab on the popularity of an SNL character.