Tuesday, July 28, 2015

I Am Chris Farley (2015)

I AM CHRIS FARLEY is hagiographic almost sickly sweet portrait of the late comedian as told by his friends and family.

Covering the life and times of Farley from birth to death which watch as Farley grows from a middle child needing attention to sports star wanting to be part of something on to his time at Second City, Saturday Night Live and beyond. It’s a night quite warts and all look at the man who made millions laugh.

I’m probably the wrong person for this film. I’m not a fan of Chris Farley. I never found the wonder in his performances. I found him to be little more than a big sad heavy guy trying to get attention. I went into the film in the hope of finding something that would make me appreciate him more. Sadly that wasn’t the case. Whatever magic Farley had that won him legions of fans gets lost in endless clips of Farley being the big loud guy.

And that’s the problem with the film, the footage of Farley is largely one note. It’s the same characters and the same shtick over and over again. We hear his friends talk about how there was more to Farley than going for the laugh, how his mentor Del Close would never have taken him under his wing if there wasn’t more to him then laughs- but the footage of Farley performing never really reveals that, its him mugging. I would have liked it more if we just had his friends talking about him rather than seeing similar footage over and over again.

My big take away from the film was a profound sense of sadness for Chris Farley. My heart broke for him. Here was this big guy who just wanted to belong, somewhere, anywhere and who seemed never to find that happy place. His brothers tell of him trying to gain his mother’s attention by constantly saying “look at me look at me”,. His high school friends talk of him looking for a place to belong so he joined the football team. Likewise his college friends talk of him joining the rugby team to just belong. Along the way we get stories of his drop the drawers antics that assured he’d be noticed. His was a story I could relate to but it’s clear from the friends stories and from the few interview clips that he was ultimately a broken soul. (the Letterman interview where he’s asked about being unloved is played for laughs but with everything around it ends up being emotionally crushing- it’s the truth played for laughs)

I AM CHRIS FARLEY is more a memorial service for a friend then it is a portrait of a comic “legend”. It’s a good film in that it lays out the life and times of its subject but it never crosses over into being great since it never manages to reveal why all of these wonderful people thought so highly of their friend.

Worth a look for fans when the film hits theaters on Friday

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