Movie Review: ‘I AM CHRIS FARLEY’ – A Solid Tribute to the Comedy Legend

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Preston Barta // Features Editor

I AM CHRIS FARLEY | 92 min | NR
Director: Brent Hodge and Derik Murray
Writer: Steve Burgess
Cast: Kevin P. Farley, Chris Farley, Pat Finn, Bob Odenkirk, John Farley, Lorne Michaels, Tom Farley, Adam Sandler, David Spade, Bo Derek, Mike Myers, Christina Applegate, Dan Aykroyd, Jon Lovitz, Molly Shannon, Bob Saget, Jay Mohr and Lorri Bagley

Most of us can probably remember the impact that Chris Farley made in the world of comedy. It can still be felt today. Going from the son of a salesman to an a gifted comedic superstar, his loud and energetic style was completely infectious and captivating. Capturing the hearts of everyone he worked with, Farley’s work has gone on to inspire many comedians and actors worldwide.

His life documentary titled I AM CHRIS FARLEY is pretty standard as far as docs go, especially if you’re coming off of the recent AMY, another film on a soul gone too soon. While the film doesn’t dive as deep as we hoped, I AM CHRIS FARLEY features many fascinating and humorous stories from his friends and family – David Spade, Adam Sandler, Kevin Farley, Bob Odenkirk, and Pat Finn – and never-before-seen-footage of his days at the famous improv theatre The Second City.

Farley’s brothers (Kevin, Tom and John) all share stories of his upbringing and how he was the center of attention in the family, always cracking jokes and doing pranks. I cannot tell you how great it is to hear how Farley went from being this little goofball kid to the man who never ceased to make us cry laughing.

Chris Farley, David Spade and Christina Applegate in SNL's infamous Matt Foley skit. Photo courtesy of Virgil Films/SNL.

Chris Farley, David Spade and Christina Applegate in SNL’s infamous Matt Foley skit. Photo courtesy of Virgil Films/SNL.

While the first half of the film centers on Farley’s climb to fame, the second half focuses on how he was consumed by it. What we know about the years leading up to Farley’s untimely death is that he constantly felt pressured to be the attention-getter, even when he wasn’t in front of the camera. He always wanted to make people laugh, but it’s a hard lifestyle to lead. To maintain an image of yourself can be one of the most difficult things you could ever do, but for Farley, it proved to be too much. He was in and out of rehab for drug and alcohol abuse for two years, and he displayed wild behavior frequently. It’s definitely the sad part of the story that you don’t want to hear about, but at the same time, you wish the filmmakers had explored it just a little more. It feels as though you’re not getting the whole story.

Despite its few shortcomings, I AM CHRIS FARLEY remains entertaining, fun, and, of course, devastating. We see how much joy he brought to our lives and the stamp he made on the world. This doc hurts to watch, but it celebrates and pays tribute to Farley’s life in the best way.

I AM CHRIS FARLEY is playing in limited release today, premieres on Spike TV on August 10, 9/8c, and will be available on Blu-ray/DVD on August 11th.
Dallas: One night only at the Texas Theatre on Tuesday, August 4th.

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.