I Am Chris Farley

I AM CHRIS FARLEY (Brent Hodge, Derik Murray) 95.

I AM CHRIS FARLEY (Brent Hodge, Derik Murray) 95 minutes. Rating: NNN

Where to watch: iTunes 

The title of I Am Chris Farley may put it in line with Derik Murray’s other bio-docs I Am Steve McQueen, I Am Bruce Lee and I Am Evel Knievel. But this one should really be called The Chris Farley Show. 

As Saturday Night Live godhead Lorne Michaels reveals, the simple-minded, star-struck mumbler of that beloved recurring sketch was Farley’s own brutal vision of himself. And his self-loathing almost certainly powered the substance abuse that ended his life at the age of 33.

This film would rather you not think about that. It’s strangely delicate about his substance problems, avoiding them for as long as possible to zoom in on certain characters and projects. The evolution of bellowing motivational speaker Matt Foley is charted in fascinating detail thanks to interviews with Bob Odenkirk, who wrote the sketch for Farley when they were both at Second City in Chicago. And of course David Spade is happy to talk about making Tommy Boy – if less happy to talk about its follow-up, Black Sheep.

But Michaels’s insight sticks, much as Murray and co-director Brent Hodge try to shake it off. When Dan Aykroyd directly compares Farley to John Belushi in an interview, you can’t help but wish they’d let him elaborate. It seems important.

normw@nowtoronto.com | @normwilner

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