Black Sheep

on February 02, 1996 by Kim Williamson
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This second movie to star cinema's new comedy team, Chris Farley and David Spade ("Tommy Boy"), is a virtually perfect comedy--in terms of running time. Judged in terms of other elements--laughs, plot, characterizations, und so weiter--"Black Sheep" is pretty baaad. Farley stars as Mike Donnelly, doufus brother of Washington gubernatorial candidate Al Donnelly ("Animal House's" Tim Matheson). Black-sheep Mike botches his every attempt to help his brother win the statehouse, so he's farmed out to a lowly campaign assistant (David Spade), whose job it becomes to keep Mike out of trouble until election day is over. Of course, he doesn't succeed. The movie itself succeeds in setting up situations ready for yucks; the movie's key problem is its intended humor fails to register on the audience's yucks ballot, which is all the more surprising given that screenwriter Fred Wolf handled script duties for the surprisingly successful "Tommy Boy." The direction by Penelope Spheeris ("Wayne's World") seems so detached that when one scene, which is building toward a rare sure comic payoff, is cut short right before its laugh, one's immediate suspicion is that either the needed reaction-take shot was never filmed or Spheeris simply put so little thought into her scene preparation she didn't realize that insert was necessary.
Like Costello and Abbott often before them, Farley and Spade are so much better than their material the audience is semi-satisfied simply due to their screen charm. Farley's innocence is consistently winning, and Spade, the sultan of snide, makes for an excellent foiled-again partner. They have the team; they just need the comedy. Starring Chris Farley, David Spade, Tim Matheson and Christine Ebersole. Directed by Penelope Spheeris. Written by Fred Wolf. Produced by Lorne Michaels. A Paramount release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for crude language and humor, drug-related material and sexual innuendo. Running time: 85 min.
Tags: David Spade, Chris Farley, Tim Matheson, Christine Ebersole, Penelope Spheeris, Fred Wolf, Lorne Michaels, comedy, election, politics, slapstick, forest, brothers, buddy comedy, family
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