Dear Chris Farley, we har’ley knew ye.
What is it with SNL and untimely death? I am pretty surprised that I have never seen a “conspiracy theory” written out about this, like the Wheaties curse or the curse of the Sports Illustrated cover. Jim Belushi, Phil Hartman, Gilda Radner and even the lovable Chris Farley died way before their time.
Farley had an uncommon gift of successfully being portly, sweaty, clumsy and lovable all at the same time. The assortment of Saturday Night Live skits collected here drives this point home with ease. From the motivational speaker that lives “in a van down by the river” to the “Superfans” to the famous “Chippendales Tryouts” sketch, Farley’s humor and charm is simply mind-blowing. The only real complaint that I have with this collection of shorts is just that… it is way too short. This program runs just over an hour, and though there are a respectable number of extras included here, I know for a fact that there was plenty more hilarity that could have been crammed onto this disc.
There is a pretty clean audio track on this disc. This is just the kind of disc that is ideally suited for the PSP, sound wise. Very few sound effects, little to no music, and a lot of dialog. Perfect for the small speaker format of the PSP. Dialog is clear, relatively loud and easy to hear, which makes for a disc that is easy to enjoy on the go.
I was all set to give the video quality on this disc a favorable review, and then I came to a clever sketch about the dark side of hidden camera commercials. While the skit itself is funny enough, I was shocked to find the bottom of the SYMPTE time code peaking down from the top of the screen! This is a simply inexcusable problem. The rest of the skits seem to be fine, and the fullscreen picture quality is favorable, but the existence of the time code is a pretty big problem to run into. In fact, to the best of my recollection, this is the first time that I have ever seen such a problem. This is fine if it shows up in a deleted scene, but in the feature? Inexcusable.
For a UMD disc, there are a fair number of extras here. In addition to the standard photo gallery, there is also a collection of photos from Chris’ personal family photo album. These are surprisingly well done segments that look much better than the standard “click advance to view next picture” bits. There is also a dress rehearsal sketch here, which is mildly amusing, but I can see why it didn’t make the final cut of the show.
Two TV appearances are included on this disc, one with Conan and the other with Leno. I was surprised to see how old these segments looked, and to realize how long Farley has been gone. The Conan bit in particular was surprising, as Andy Richter was still on the show, and the set was the original “retro office” setup. Both of these interviews revolve around Chris’ portrayal of motivational speaker Matt Foley, and on the Conan appearance, he actually comes out in character.
The extras finish up with a montage of outtakes from the skits on the show, most of which revolve around Farley’s wig flying off in a spastic fit. Part of the fun of SNL is the knowledge that the show is live, and nothing can be fixed later in editing. If a mistake occurs, the actors just have to go with it. The interesting side effect is, it is usually the mistakes that are the funniest bits on the show. Chris Farley was one of those actors that was very good at making his fellow actors laugh on screen, and this disc is full of those moments.
This is one of those rare treats that is not only funny, but has some historical significance considering the untimely death of Farley. Video problem in one sketch aside, this is a fun disc that is easy to watch and enjoy in small segments, which makes it perfect for the PSP. Lion’s Gate may have found the ideal format for a UMD video in this one. I could easily watch this disc again and again.