by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: *** (out of 5 stars)
BLURAY EXPERIENCE: * (out of 5 stars)
Chris Farley as MIKE CONNELLY
David Spade as STEVE DODDS
Tim Matheson as AL DONNELLY
Christine Ebersole as GOVERNOR TRACY
Gary Busey as DRAKE SABITCH
Directed by: Penelope Spheeris
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Al Donnelly (Tim Matheson) has his eye on the Governor’s mansion in Washington State, and it looks like he just might make it there... if he can keep his kind-hearted but overzealous brother Mike (Chris Farley) in check. With Mike becoming a sloppy embarrassment in the press, Al has no choice but to send him on a voter registration project in the middle of nowhere with a young and eager campaign worker Steve Dodds (David Spade). However, when Mike discovers some dirty shenanigans that could cost his brother the election, he finds a way to bring this to everyone’s attention.
WHAT I LIKED
Chris Farley and David Spade became famous on “Saturday Night Live” during the bulk of my college years. So, I was the perfect target age for films like “Tommy Boy” and “Black Sheep.” Farley’s later films (including the posthumous “Almost Heroes”) didn’t have the same luster as his first two outings with Spade, and were he not to have died, the two could have had a string of successful ventures as a new Martin and Lewis.
For me, “Tommy Boy” and “Black Sheep” will be linked forever. This is not just because both films featured very similar scenes (including some very funny moments while driving in a car) but also because they have been guilty pleasures of mine. Of course, if you don’t like either Farley or Spade as comedic actors, you’re going to turn your nose up at these movies. However, for the fan of the Farley/Spade formula, “Black Sheep” is a lot of fun.
Chris Farley gives himself completely to this film, attacking it with the energy he did in his “Saturday Night Live” days. Made during the Clinton years, this film drew from plenty of pop culture references to both Roger Clinton and Billy Carter from two decades before. However, the character of Mike Donnelly is much more loveable than the lesser Clinton or Carter ever was.
“Black Sheep” may not be remembered as a masterful comedy classic, but for the college humor crowd with a relatively safe PG-13 rating, it’s a fun diversion.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
As I mentioned earlier, this film was made during the Clinton era, which signified a younger culture in the Oval Office. Many films were made during Clinton’s reign (e.g., “Independence Day,” “Air Force One” and “An American President”) that represented Hollywood being enamored with the President. Whether characters showed up as Presidents or politicians on the road to being President, it was clear this was Hollywood’s fantasy of what they wanted Clinton to be.
Removed from the political culture of 1996, “Black Sheep” loses some of this tone, but it is a reminder of the unapologetic idolization of Clinton in the cinematic form. Conversely, Al Donnelly’s opponent’s political stance is never stated, but it’s clear she swings to the right and is vilified for it.
Sadly, there are no special features to this release of “Black Sheep.” Still, it’s worth a look if you want to seed your high definition video collection before DVDs disappear like 8-tracks and VHS.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Fans of Chris Farley and David Spade as a comedy team.