BLACK SHEEP (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
May 13, 2009 by Dennis Amith
“Featuring another hilarious comedy team up between Saturday Night Live comedians Chris Farley and David Spade. Directed by Penelope Spheeris (Wayne’s World), ‘BLACK SHEEP’ is totally insane with classic comedy Farley-ism!”
TITLE: BLACK SHEEP
DURATION: 86 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English 5.0 Dolby TrueHD, French and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Surround, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese
RATED: PG-13 (For Crude Language and Humor, Drug-Related Material and Sexual Inuendo)
COMPANY: Paramount Home Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: May 12, 2009
Directed by Penelope Spheeris
Written by Fred Wolf
Executive Produced by C.O. Erickson and Robert K. Weiss
Produced by Lorne Michaels
Co-Produced by Dinah Minot
Associate Producer: Eric Newman
Music by William Ross
Director of Photography: Daryn Okada
Edited by Ross Albert
Casting by Deborah Aquila and Jane Shannon-Smith
Production Design by Peter Jamison
Art Direction by Chris Cornwell
Set Decoration by Linda Spheeris
Costume Design by Jill M. Ohanneson
Chris Farley as Mike Donnelly
David Spade as Steve Dodds
Tim Matheson as Al Donnelly
Christine Ebersole as Governor Tracy
Gary Busey as Drake Sabitch
Grant Heslov as Robbie Mieghem
Timothy Carhart as Roger Kovary
In 1996, “Saturday Night Live” comedians Chris Farley and David Spade teamed up once again for “BLACK SHEEP”. With the success of “Tommy Boy” (1995), the stars joined “WAYNE’S WORLD” director Penelope Spheeris (“Little Rascals”, “Beverly Hillbillies”, “The Decline of Western Civilization Part II and Part III”, etc.) and writer Fred Wolf (“Joe Dirt”, “Without a Paddle”, “Strange Wilderness”, etc.).
The film was not well-received and the late film critic Gene Siskel said this film was one of the two films he has ever walked out on. The film grossed around over $32 million during its theatrical run.
The film revolves around Mike Donnelly (Chris Farley), the loving brother of Al Donnelly (Tim Matheson) who is running for Governor of Washington. Unfortunately, Mike is very clumsy and seems to have his share of bad luck.
While Al is giving a speech, Mike who is driving a rundown vehicle with a loudspeaker (asking for people to vote for his brother). But the neighborhood dogs are following the vehicle, so Mike decides to find a way to ditch them. First he starts yelling into the mic with no success and then he starts to outrun them. Unfortunately, he loses control of the vehicle and destroys parking meters, cars and runs straight into the town’s movie theater, right in front of where his brother is giving a speech.
Al’s political campaign manager Roger Kovary (Timothy Carhart) advises Al that his brother is bringing shame to the campaign and that he may need someone to watch over him. So, Steve Dodds (David Spade), a campaign aide volunteers to watch over Mike.
Steve’s first impression of Mike is in disbelief as he is covered in oil and slams the hood of the car he is repairing on his own fingers. During a campaign promotional, Mike tries to help an old couple with their groceries (even if they don’t want it) and gets his tie caught in the trunk and is dragged all over the parking lot. When Steve goes to pick Mike up, he accidentally hits a veteran’s car, Drake Sabitch (Garey Busey). Because of that, Sabitch steals Steve’s car.
Now, it seems that with Steve near Mike, he may get a taste of his bad luck. To make things worse, Mike gets in more trouble as he tries to stop kids from drinking alcohol and ends up being photographed by the local paper as a guy who supports underage kids from drinking. Mike is fired from the county’s REC center.
Noticing Mike’s continuing troublesome nature, Governor Evelyn Tracy (Christine Ebersole) who is running against Al, decides to go dirty in her campaign and bring shame to Al Donnelly by framing Mike with an accident. Hoping that Mike would be a distraction to her rival.
Tracy has two men commit arson by burning the REC center but to make it look like Mike did it as retaliation for being fired. Steve arrives to the scene and is shocked to see the whole REC burning and is not too sure if Mike did it or not, even if Mike tells him that he didn’t do it. Fortunately for Mike, his cop buddy Robby Mighuem (Grant Heslov) arrives to the scene first and tells Mike to leave and he won’t tell anyone that they were at the premises.
Roger advises Al that because of all the trouble Mike is bringing to the campaign, his idea is to have Mike brought to an area where he can’t cause any trouble since they are now in the final stage of the campaign, weeks before the election date. So, Steve brings Mike to a secluded area in the mountainside and with nothing but a cabin nearby, what problem can the two have? Unfortunately, with Mike’s bad luck, trouble will always follow.
Can Mike stay away long enough from making things worse for his brother’s campaign?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“BLACK SHEEP” is featured in 1080p High Definition and because the film was shot primarily outdoors, the picture quality features a lot of vibrant colors. Typically with many films released between the late 80’s and mid-90’s, there is a softness that comes with the picture quality on Blu-ray, and color is often muted. But for this 13-year-old film, picture quality is pretty good compared to the original DVD.
Audio is featured in English 5.0 Dolby TrueHD (and French 2.0 Dolby Surround and Spanish 5.0 Dolby Digital). The film is primarily front channel heavy and as a comedy film, is primarily dialogue based. But because you have well-known rock n’ roll director Penelope Spheeris in control, her films tend to utilize music and in this case, during the grunge era, this film features the band Mudhoney. Dialogue is clear and there are a few cases of action sequences, especially during a scene when a big boulder crashes down into the cabin that Mike and Steve are staying in. But for a comedy film, audio quality is satisfactory.
Subtitles are featured in English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese.
The “BLACK SHEEP” Blu-ray Disc release does not contain any special features.
“BLACK SHEEP” is a film that you either love or hate. Where SNL alumni Mike Myers and Dana Carvey dominated the early 90’s with “WAYNE’S WORLD”, SNL team Chris Farley and David Spade followed in the mid-90’s with a few films.
Chris Farley’s comedy is self-deprecating as he knows how to utilize his body weight to showcase clumsiness and moronic behavior quite well for the role of Mike Donnelly. Where David Spade is more calm and collected in this film, Farley really goes all out and he makes his scenes of bad decision making seem plausible because he is so clumsy.
And because of that, many critics tend to be disgusted by this style of comedy, while there are those who saw his comedy as genius and a man who knew how to win the audience. He will be a talent remembered for comedy films like “BLACK SHEEP”, “Tommy Boy” and “Beverly Hills Ninja”.
With that being said, “BLACK SHEEP” is definitely a film which you can’t be too serious about, nor can you be logical and wonder how Mike gets away with all this trouble and destruction. You just take it in as a comedy where you just wonder how far Chris Farley will go with his hilarious and wacky antics.
As for the Blu-ray, if you own the DVD, there is not much extra to expect from this Blu-ray release. There are no special features and the sound is 5.0 Dolby TrueHD (no subwoofer utilization). So, it all comes down to picture quality and if that is enough for you to double dip.
“BLACK SHEEP” may not be for everyone but if you are familiar with the style of Happy Madison Production type of films or Chris Farley films in general, you know what to expect.
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