Movie Review

I Am Chris Farley (2015) Review


I like documentaries. Not all documentaries, but if I’m interested in the subject, I’ll watch. Well, I’ll try. Like anything else, sometimes they aren’t good. To be honest, they can be downright horrible. How? They push an agenda, are poorly written, or the production budget is on par with a value meal. Any or all these things can lead to ruin. It’s important to know how to detect the warning signs so you don’t waste your time. I Am Chris Farley isn’t just good. It’s great, exceeded my expectations, and comes highly recommended.

For people of my generation, Chris Farley holds a special spot in our hearts. The generation before had John Belushi. We had Chris Farley. You can compare them, but it isn’t fair. They were similar, yet different, and both men were equally talented in their own way. Unfortunately, both suffered the same fate. Similar careers, and similar lifestyles. I Am Chris Farley compares the two, but it doesn’t go on forever. One or two brief mentions here and there. A bad documentary would have made the comparison early and pressed upon it until the end credits.

Another point of emphasis is the talking heads. It featured his brothers, Kevin in particular. Kevin looks and sounds just like Chris, with a beard. Old boyhood friends, college drinking buddies, and fellow Saturday Night Live alumni are on hand from Mike Myers, Adam Sandler, and of course David Spade. The people one would expect to see. I never asked, “Why are they there, and not so-and-so?” That’s important in a documentary too. You expect certain people, and those people were present. They also had more than a line or two. Each person had ample time and none of the talking segments felt forced. Another good point when watching a documentary. Lorne Michaels, Bob Saget, Dan Akroyd, and Tom Arnold also appear. The best thing about these talking segments is not a single person said, “Yeah, I was his best friend.” I hear that a lot when a person is dead and can’t refute it. These people talked of having a bond, or a friendship. Nothing stupid like being best friends.

In good taste. I think that might be the best way to describe I Am Chris Farley. They could have focused on all the negatives, his demons, and all the skeletons in his closet. Yes, they discussed these things. They weren’t the focus. They had to include them, but they weren’t the focal point. I Am Chris Farley celebrates a life with a tragic end. A life that brought so much happiness to so many people. The bad stuff comes near the end. It’s not negative. It’s not overlooked. Neither is it glossed over nor glamorized. It doesn’t need to be, and shouldn’t be. With the laughter come the tears. Both are unavoidable. You’ll laugh at the movie clips, the Saturday Night Live clips, and the stories. Then, when the end comes, both for Chris and this wonderful tribute to him, you can try not to cry. You won’t do a good job, but you can try.

Copyright © Drew Martin 2016


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