Black Sheep

Black Sheep ★★★

A few years ago, I read a few pages of The Chris Farley Show, a book written by his brother Tom that chronicled the life of the SNL star through the perspectives of his family and friends. There was a brief section on the making of Black Sheep that revealed some surprising information:

- After Paramount was pleased with the success of Tommy Boy, they wanted to quickly produce and release a follow up. They pulled Chris Farley away from doing other projects (The Cable Guy was one of them) so he could work with them again.

- Fred Wolf, who rewrote Tommy Boy with director Peter Segal, was forced to write a script in a short time frame. Had he missed the deadline, Fred would have been sued.

- Director Penelope Spheeris was hired, but there was a problem: she loved Farley, but hated David Spade (although they later reunited to make Senseless). Penelope just didn't find him funny.

- Fred Wolf appeared on the set during shooting with ideas to spruce up the movie, but Penelope kept kicking him out.

And thus we have Black Sheep, a comedy about a perpetual screw-up who accidentally sabotages his brother's chance of being Washington's next governor...even while under the supervision of the candidate's aid. While it entertained me throughout, it made me wish it was better.

Chris Farley was, as usual, hilarious with his blunt but always funny method of slapstick comedy. Whether it was him rolling down a hill, walking into a tree branch or crashing an MTV Rock the Vote event, he made me laugh pretty hard.

However, it's quite clear that Spheeris' hatred for David Spade resulted in tampering with a key element: the comic chemistry he had with Farley. There are moments of that chemistry here, but for the most part Spade is sidelined; he mainly reacts to Farley's mischief with facial expressions.

As for the rest of the cast, they do a good job. Gary Busey is a riot as Drake Sabitch (tee hee), a paranoid war veteran. Christine Ebersole was amusing as the corrupt Governor Tracy and Tim Matheson was decent as the gubernatorial candidate Al Donnelly.

In closing, Black Sheep was fun to watch. Had it not been a rushed product of a studio who wanted a quick buck and a director who didn't really want to make it but did for the paycheck (that's what it said in the book!), the movie could've been just as funny - if not funnier - than Tommy Boy.

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