So this past Monday night, I was fortunate enough to be invited to a special screening at Second City (it pays to be on their press list, you know) of I Am Chris Farley, a documentary to be featured as part of August 10th's "Chris Farley Day" on Spike TV. So I attended with my date for the evening, and enjoyed a fine, fine piece of work.
(The documentary, that is - I would never, ever refer to a woman as a "piece of work". And apologize for the slight innuendo)
I have to admit - I wasn't a fan of Chris Farley's work: I found much of Saturday Night Live during that period a bit tedious, and quit watching. However, I Am Chris Farley takes a completely opposite tack: instead of focusing on his comedic career, it focuses on Farley as a human being, and made me want to do something I thought I would never do - go out and watch Tommy Boy.
Although the movie is similar to other films - a mix of vintage footage, home movies, and talking head interviews - I Am Chris Farley takes a much different approach to the subject matter. Yes, there are the requisite clips of past humor, but it's the tone of the film - seeing Farley as a human being driven to entertain - that gives it a life and presence that other, similar documentaries may lack. There's a great thread of warmth about Farley, even in the midst of revelations around his substance use (some participants claim Farley was in drug rehab seventeen times), and there's never a sense of exploitation about Farley.
(Although I still say that David Spade hasn't quite redeemed himself for this example of poor taste).
Granted, Spike TV may not be my kind of channel, but between this film and their earlier entry on Bruce Lee, they're showing exquisite taste and insight in their subjects. I Am Chris Farley will be shown on August 10th on Spike TV - if you have cable, be sure to catch it. If you don't, you might consider one of the more....esoteric ways of acquiring content, even if it means waiting for the inevitable DVD/streaming release. (Because my audience would never pirate things...nor would they admit that publicly).
As for me, the one thing I will admit publicly....is that I'm going to watch Tommy Boy again. If I Am Chris Farley gave me a new perspective on Chris Farley the man....the least I can do is revisit his work.
I Am Chris Farley celebrates the man's life, as well as provides a great opportunity for reevaluating his work. It's a must-watch.