MOVIE REVIEW: ‘I Am Chris Farley’ Adds Nothing New, Still Manages To Be Funny

Film: I Am Chris Farley
Directed by: Brent Hodge, Derik Murray

Chris Farley, that bubbly, rambunctious, endearing, laugh-a-minute inducing lovable Saturday Night Live comedian, is the subject of the new talking heads doc, I Am Chris Farley. Despite sporting a title that could be misread for Farley talking directly to the viewer, directors Brent Hodge (A Brony Tale) and Derik Murray (I Am Bruce Lee) make the 92-minute running time feel swift with archival footage from Farley’s best skits and first-hand accounts of his comedic prowess. The main narrative of the film may be scattershot, the ruminations on drug abuse may be surface-level and the testimonials may be repetitive, but Farley’s effervescent spirit leaks through every minute of the film.

Farley passed away in December of 1997 from an accidental drug overdose, sending a shockwave through the comedy community that he was a member of. We might know him as the loser-turned-hero in Tommy Boy or the angry bus driver in Billy Madison, but those close to him knew him as one of the most kind-hearted and gentle men to grace the earth. I Am Chris Farley is the attempt to humanize a man that has already been humanized.

Christina Applegate, Tom Arnold, Bo Derek, Jon Lovitz, Bob Saget, Will Sasso, Molly Shannon, David Spade and Mike Myers. These are only a few of the comedians and comediennes who lend their personal accounts of Farley to the film. Stories include behind-the-scenes looks into the Chippendales skit on SNL with Patrick Swayze to the development of Matt Foley, the motivational speaker made famous for screaming “when you live in a van down by the river!” These stories function as loose vignettes, all serving all but one ordinary purpose: to humanize the subject at the center of the film.

Humanization isn’t something the subject needs, though. For those who grew up watching Farley’s talents, it was incredibly easy to see the man’s eagerness to please. He had a way about him that would fill a room with cheer and joy, even if he were being seen through a television screen. Drug abuse and the parasitic qualities of stardom resembled the side of his life that the general public was kept from seeing. To an extent, that’s a good thing. When we delve too much into other people’s affairs—people we have little personal knowledge of—things become borderline voyeuristic and we start becoming the people who drive people like Farley into isolation. On the other hand, curiosity kills the cat. People want to know about the events that conspired around his death and how he got there. That’s human nature, and for the most part, people want a deeper understanding because they have an admiration or love for people like Farley.

Alas, though, this isn’t that type of movie. If you’re looking for some emotionally hard-hitting record that paints a rounded portrait of Farley, warts and all, then you’ll have to look elsewhere. If you want to bide your time with hearing famous comedians pontificate about the man they knew and loved—most of the time to a very funny degree—then I Am Chris Farley is for you.


I Am Chris Farley opens this Friday in major markets before heading to VOD on August 11. For more information, head on over to the website:

Review written by: Sam Cohen (Follow him on Twitter!)

Sam Cohen
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One Response to “MOVIE REVIEW: ‘I Am Chris Farley’ Adds Nothing New, Still Manages To Be Funny”

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