I Am Chris Farley Brent Hodges and Derik Murray
Published Aug 13, 2015The problem with watching a Chris Farley documentary is that you know how it ends. Part of you won't even want to sit through it. But although the final destination can be a bummer, the journey, in the case of I Am Chris Farley, is worth it.
Directors Brent Hodges and Derik Murray consult a deep roster of those closest to Farley, resulting in some great stories. The basic theme remains the same: Chris Farley had a giant heart, and he vastly underestimated himself; if you shared a stage with him, you quickly found that out. Yet, for all the love of his caring family and friends, Farley still spiralled out of control.
Bob Odenkirk, when asked what he feels luckiest about during his storied career, declares that it was "Getting to do Motivational Speaker with Chris Farley eight times a week" during their tenure at Chicago's Second City. It's one of many demonstrative examples of how Farley's winning personality made spinning comedic gold seem easy.
It was on Saturday Night Live that Farley had his most memorable moments, and watching them on the big screen is a treat, a reminder of the stage presence that was arguably one of the show's greatest. David Spade and Christina Applegate, who were in the first-ever sketch featuring Farley's iconic Motivational Speaker, recall that "breaking" was unavoidable. It was a game to Farley: Show weakness, a snicker or a grin, and he would smell the fear and make you crack. "I'm gonna getcha," he would say to his co-performers before hitting the stage, and most of the time, he did.
Mike Myers recalls another of his most beloved appearances, as a Chippendale Dancer opposite Patrick Swayze. All Myers had to do, along with co-stars Jan Hooks and Kevin Neilan, was judge their erotic moves with a straight face. As Myers attests, there was a great deal of pen-biting happening; it's great fun to watch.
Hodges and Murray do a nice job of packaging the tale of Chris Farley, as bytes from a David Letterman interview are interspersed between the chapters of his life. These are also wonderful to revisit — Letterman is clearly a fan, and its Farley's genuinely innocent demeanour and wonderful sense of awe that shines through.
As his friends and family confirm, Farley had a tireless attitude towards his comedy, even when his schedule became exhausting. I Am Chris Farley implores us to remember the days when he dominated '90s comedy, and it's bittersweet, both a remembrance of what was and a reminder of what might have been.