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Almost Heroes


Poor Chris Farley. As you probably know, he died of an overdose at the end of last year. Personally, that pissed me off more than the deaths of Robert Mitchum and James Stewart that same year, because anyway, they hadn’t worked in years. But Farley! He was one of the funniest guys in Hollywood, along with what I consider to be the coolest Saturday Night Live generation, 1990-95: David Spade, Mike Myers, Adam Sandler, Dana Carvey, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, Farley. Chris had bit parts in many comedies, from the “Wayne’s World” flicks to “Billy Madison”, “Dirty Work”, “Airheads” and “Coneheads”. He also had films of his own. My favorite is his teaming with Spade, “Tommy Boy”. The pair also made another big screen collaboration, “Black Sheep”, which ain’t as fresh. In these films, Farley’s loud and blunt physical humor and Spade’s hilarious sarcasm add up to some wonderful comedy. He then made the dumb action comedy “Beverly Hills Ninja”, and finally, “Almost Heroes”.

In this film, Farley plays an Old West guide who happens to also be fat, hairy, loud, dumb and alcoholic. At the beginning of the 19th century, he’s hired by a classy British explorer who’s determined to cross America to the Pacific before Lewis and Clark get there. With them, they bring a band of slow witted yet outdoor-wise companions, a brutal Frenchman and his Indian woman. Their adventure will have them facing Savages, bears, eagles, natural threats and even angry Spanish conquistadors.

And that’s a Chris Farley comedy? Oh yeah. You still have all the sex humor, the fatty-falls-down jokes and more dumbness. But this time, the film’s a fun Western à la “City Slickers”. Of course, you shouldn’t expect a finely tuned masterpiece, but director Christopher Guest does a pretty good job. The visuals aren’t, like, stunning, but some landscape shots are quite impressive. The music’s fine too, but anyway, who gives a rat ass? The most important thing to know is: Is the flick funny? And the answer is: Yes! It’s not the funniest film I’ve ever seen, but Chris sure cracked me up often in this flick. I should also mention that he’s teamed up once again with a sarcastic dude, as Friends’ Matthew Perry takes David Spade’s place. I sure love Spade, but believe me, Perry is as enjoyable, or maybe even more, since besides being hilarious, he also has a really strong, leading man-style screen presence, and he’s a surprisingly good actor.

And when you think about it, Farley was also damn good, in his own way. He truly was one of the funniest actors in Hollywood. In life like on screen, he was an unstoppable party animal who was all about screaming, drinking and falling down. Unfortunately, unlike movies, life ain’t all about happy endings, and poor Chris died at the young age of 33. He made us laugh many, many, many times, but still, he didn’t have the time to get the respect he deserved. I’m pretty sure that, given a few more years, he could have done it, like Jim Carrey finally did with “The Truman Show”. To get back to the point, “Almost Heroes” is a satisfying comedy, but it ain’t the farewell I would have wanted from good old Chris. It’s still damn worth checking out, just to laugh your ass off one last time.