"I Am Chris Farley" Will Move Fans But Avoids Exploring the Comedian's Demons Review

I’ve only got a few heroes, and over 90 percent of them are dead from suicides or drug overdoses: Ian Curtis. John Belushi. Spalding Gray. and Chris Farley. I’ve always been a sucker for Farley. He seemed to have a darkness just under the surface, perhaps more than Belushi. I totally get what it’s like to be the “funny fat guy.” I’ve been that my entire life. I know what it’s like to have those insecurities. Those worries. To always want to impress or make others laugh or be happy. I get that. I get all of that.

Maybe that’s why while watching I Am Chris Farley, I got kinda’ emotional. At a handful of points during this incredible documentary (produced by Spike, the “dude’s channel” of record), there were moments of pure emotion watching guys like David Spade, Adam Sandler and countless others talk about this force of nature, this brilliant performer, and the light he brought into their lives.

If you’re just a casual fan of Saturday Night Live, you won’t appreciate the nuance and awesomeness going on with Farley. The same can also be said if you’re only a fan of the homogenized hipster-friendly modern SNL. There was a time where SNL was this comedic tour du force where every week you had amazing performances from guys like Chevy Chase or Belushi or Farley. Now, it’s about what sketch goes viral. Back then, you had to rely on pure instinct and raw ability. Farley encapsulated that concept of raw ability and instinct perfectly.

The documentary highlights this, with interviews from family, friends (both famous and normal), as well as clips of his early days performing in college and even before that, being a silly little chubby kid in home movies. You learn more about his need for his mother’s attention, as well as how he used to make his dad laugh.

You learn that Tommy Boy, in many ways, is a love letter to his father, and more autobiographical than you can imagine. You also learn about how guys like Spade, Sandler and even Bob Saget, reacted to times when Farley was back doing drugs after stints in rehab.

While the documentary does a perfect job highlighting the goodness in Farley (his off-screen charity time, as well as how generous a friend he was), it doesn’t dive enough into his demons. In the end, we only get a sense that he was a guy who was thirsty for life, and thirsty for love, but never truly found it, especially after NBC’s production changed hands and wanted guys like him and Sandler off SNL for pretty idiotic reasons.

I Am Chris Farley was tough to watch at points. Seeing a brilliant comedic spirit snuffed out due to drugs and alcohol is brutally sad. Seeing Saget get emotional or Sandler and Spade and Mike Meyers get upset is itself upsetting. These are guys who make millions off dick jokes. And yet, they’re very real men who lost one of their closest friends. It’s sad and a little heartbreaking.

Blu-ray Bonus Features

Barebones, really. A short piece on the Farley family is great, but not totally necessary.

 

"I Am Chris Farley" is on sale August 11, 2015 and is not rated. Documentary. Directed by Derik Murray. Written by Steve Burgess. Starring Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, David Spade.

Sep
01
2015
Robert Ottone • Staff Writer

A natural bon vivant in love with cigars, finery and luxurious booze, SelfieRob aims to make light of the world around him while living the party boy lifestyle. From the Hamptons to NYC and beyond, SelfieRob lives life to the fullest.

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