Judge Clark Douglas really hopes he gets the job he applied for at Chippendales.
"Hey, you 'member that time you were in that movie?"
It's unsurprising that quite a few people have drawn comparisons between Chris Farley and the great John Belushi. Both were cast members on Saturday Night Live, both leaned towards a blustery brand of comedy, both were overweight, and both tragically passed away at a young age due to drug use. While Farley is a little louder and has a somewhat smaller range than Belushi, he was nonetheless a splendid entertainer. Saturday Night Live: The Best of Chris Farley was released on DVD back in 2003, but has now received a re-release offering a handful of bonus sketches. Let's take a look at what this one has to offer:
• Andrew Guiliani Open: A mediocre cold open that takes a simple joke and drags it out much too long.
• Chris & Mom: Too short to even comment on (about 25 seconds). It's Chris Farley and his mom. I assume this was included for sentimental reasons?
• Motivational Speaker: Ah, our first genuine classic. Farley's nothing short of perfect in this beloved sketch. David Spade can barely contain his laughter for most of the piece. I, for one, don't want to end up living in a van down by the river.
• Hibernol: Another hilarious piece; a commercial about a cold medicine that works far more effectively than anyone would ever want it to.
• Chippendales: A ripped, topless Patrick Swayze dances alongside the morbidly obese (but also topless) Farley. The absurdity of the first half is balanced nicely by an equally entertaining practicality in the second.
• Montages: There are no less than four montages scattered throughout the disc, offering a blend of goofy lines, bloopers, slapstick comedy and shouting. These are predictably hit-and-miss, but they offer a look at the many different shades of Chris Farley (admittedly, the shades aren't that different).
• Bill Swerski's Superfans: A group of Chicago Bears fans get together to talk about the Chicago Bulls. Despite the presence of Michael Jordan, this one just doesn't do much for me. It runs too long and accomplishes too little.
• The Chris Farley Show: An immensely amusing talk show in which a star-struck Farley is too nervous to actually ask guests Jeff Daniels, Martin Scorsese and Paul McCartney any decent questions. Hilarious stuff.
• Bennett Brauer: A commentator drops by Weekend Update to comment on his own lack of self esteem. Charming stuff, though much less enjoyable than Belushi's similarly frustrated Update appearances.
• Schiller Visions: A rather entertaining examination of hidden camera commercials. Farley has a lot of fun as an immensely disgruntled customer.
• Lunch Lady: A lame Adam Sandler song featuring a moderately amusing interpretive dance from Farley. Meh.
• Japanese Game Show: Arguably the best sketch on this disc; a darkly absurd portrait of a Japanese game show featuring terrific performances from Farley and Mike Myers. If only Saturday Night Live hit this level on a regular basis…
• Focus on Beauty: Ugh, what a miserable way to finish this disc; an overlong sketch that goes absolutely nowhere. Too bad.
The DVD transfer is disappointing overall, but the quality varies from sketch to sketch. The image is miserable at worst and unremarkably acceptable at best, but it gets the job done. Audio is decent, though at times Farley's shouting generates a bit of distortion. All of the extras from the previous DVD release re-appear on this disc: some dress rehearsal sketches, a couple of late-night television appearances, a photo gallery and a "family album" piece promoting The Chris Farley Foundation. Plus, you get a handful of additional sketches exclusive to this release: "Schmitt's Gay Beer," "Motivational Speaker: Halloween," "Bill Swerski's Quiz Masters," "Update/Bennett Brauer," and "Gap Girls." None of this stuff is particularly special (and pieces from most of them are included in the montages), but the "Schmitt's Gay Beer" commercial is good for a chuckle or two.
Though there are some solid pieces to be found throughout Saturday Night Live: The Best of Chris Farley, there are too many misfires to make the disc a satisfying experience. In addition, the new sketches offer little incentive for owners of the previous release to upgrade.
Guilty, but only just.
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