So funny your eyes will be filled with tears…That’s the best way I would describe the new “I AM CHRIS FARLEY” documentary. It’s also how I would describe Chris Farley to someone not familiar with the Comedian who’s best known for his stint on Saturday Night Live from 1990-1995. Seasoned SNL viewers that’s watched the show for many years will always get into great debates on which cast member was the funniest or which cast was the best. I’ve heard many mention the John Belushi years or the Eddie Murphy years, and then the period in the 80’s when many wondered how was it even possible the series was still on the air at that point. For me the 90s was a great period because it was through SNL did we see the careers launch of David Spade, Mike Myers, Dennis Miller, Norm MacDonald, Darrell Hammond, Chris Rock, Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, Chris Farley just to name a few.

Feels like almost every 20 years SNL and Lorne Michaels (Executive Producer and creator of SNL) hit bullseye with top notch performers but at the same time before these performers can reach the peak of their career their life ends way too soon. Case in point John Belushi hands down and Chris Farley. I had the luxury of watching “I AM CHRIS FARLEY” which premiered earlier this month on SPIKE TV and I gotta tell you it left me sad and wanting now more than ever for Chris to still be around entertaining us in some capacity. The 1hr 35 minute documentary highlights Chris humbled beginnings as a middle child growing up in Wisconsin, to becoming a really good college football player to discovering and falling in love with comedy, a knack he had early on as a kid. It’s Chris Farley’s story only its not told be Chris but instead from friends, family including his brothers of which Kevin looks like a spot on doppelgänger, and fellow SNL cast members.

One thing you learn about Chris Farley during this documentary is for most of his life he was always trying to please other people, he cared about being accepted, getting folks approval. He had insecurities about himself and maybe that was largely in part because of his weight. Deep down inside he was really a shy person that wanted to be accepted and loved. Had he really taken a step back he would’ve found that aside from family there were many that truly loved him deeply for he was very liked and very well respected. When I was growing up I dealt with this as I was always trying to be liked and accepted by my fellow peers. I had lots of acne and I talked very proper. You could tell I was from somewhere else and I would be ridiculed in school. Sometimes the teachers would laugh along with the class when I was being picked on. I would always try to tell jokes or do something funny or stupid, give folks some of my candy just so I could be accepted and it never really happened. For the most part people were laughing at me and not with me. Rejection was a hard thing for me to accept, especially when it came to the ladies. I can only imagine how life was for Chris as when I got older I stopped caring about people’s approval and whatever rejection came my way and just lived my life. I think Chris was finally getting to that point in his life and had he lived longer he would’ve surprised folks I’m sure but old demons got the best of him.

Despite being so humble before and after his rise to fame Chris was still this jubilant little boy in a grown body just in awe at how far he came along from a small town in Wisconsin. He really was caught up in the notion of just making people laugh by any means, even if it meant he had to make fun of himself in the process. Such a sharp mind he had and a perfectionist at improv which is something you can’t teach. One can try but it takes a special kind of talent like a Chris Farley that can make it all look so effortless. You can see examples of this in SNL skits such as the Chippendales audition with Patrick Swayze, and the infamous Matt Foley, motivational speaker.

I remember when I heard the news of Farley’s passing, I was in my freshman year in high school and it was right before winter break. Some of my classmates listened to the radio on their Walkman players or hung out in the cafeteria watching tv in between classes. Before the end of the school day we all heard rumblings of his passing. I thought for sure it was just a bad joke but by the time I got home from school and watched the news it was official and I was just heartbroken. To this day I miss Chris and wish he were with us as he tried really hard to get his weight under control and kick the drug habit. On at least 18 occasions he tried and the way he died no doubt screams John Belushi as he died in similar fashion and at the same age of 33.

Let me tell you when Chris died it was like many of us lost a close friend or family member. That’s just how likable of a guy Chris came off as on the big screen or on TV. He came off as a common, everyday person that you could see yourself hanging out with because there was a zest for life in him that was just alluring and very welcoming. I think Chris would be very proud of this documentary and would probably be a bit shy at the amount of love and respect his friends and colleagues had for him but most of all the impact he’s had on a lot of people.

Speaking of people, as great as this documentary was it really would’ve been nice seeing a part towards the end where different fans such as myself could offer a few words of reflection on Chris. Don’t get me wrong as it was nice seeing Adam Sandler, David Spade, Bon Odenik and many other SNL alumnus talk about Chris as they should. It would have been even better hearing from fans that grew up watching Chris speak on the impact he made in their lives. Especially if they too went into acting or comedy. Fingers crossed maybe it’s part of an extra on DVD. Other nice gems of this documentary include Farley going to Chicago and getting in contact with the legendary Del Close for lessons in comedy, origins of the Matt Foley character, autobiographical aspects of “Tommy Boy”and more. One thing is for certain and that’s with “I AM CHRIS FARLEY” you’ll end up missing Chris all over again as this documentary is filled with laughter, happy & sad cries but ultimate sadness as you come to the realization of such a gifted comedian gone way before his time like so many greats.

“I AM CHRIS FARLEY GETS AN 8 / 10.

“I AM CHRIS FARLEY” can be streamed on VUDU, Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, and Google Play, YouTube and is available on standard and BLU-Ray DVD.

FOLLOW LEE SANDERS ON TWITTER @THERCWRSHOW
FACEBOOK.COM/ENFINITYONEPRODUCTIONS

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