Have you seen the Chris Farley/David Spade film Tommy Boy? If you have, then you’ve also seen Black Sheep. The circumstances might have changed, but the general idea is still there. Farley plays the mentally challenged family member, yet again. This time he’s Mike Donnelly, and his brother Al (Matheson) is running for Governor of Washington state. Spade once again plays the faithful employee who is charged with babysitting Farley’s character and trying to keep him out of trouble. Here he’s Steve Dodds, an overlooked campaign assistant who hopes to parley the assignment into a full time job on Donnelly’s staff if he’s elected. Just like in Tommy Boy, there is the rival who is using Farley to hurt the cause. This time it’s sitting Governor Tracy (Eborsole) and her slimy campaign manager Neauschwander (McGill). They set Mike up as an arsonist, among other things. Of course, the Farley and Spade team discover some voting irregularities and take a road trip to the state capital to save the day. They’re aided in their attempt by a Vietnam vet who isn’t dealing with a full deck and is played quite hilariously by Gary Busy.
There are a ton of parallels between the Chris Farley/David Spade comedy team and that of John Belushi/Dan Aykroyd. Both teams began in the Saturday Night Live arena. It was that physical big/little guy combination that has its roots with Laurel and Hardy, and Abbott and Costello. Both teams were at the height of their careers when a drug overdose would claim the wilder member of the team. Both of the deceased comedians left behind at least one successful brother to carry on the name in show business. Tommy Boy was by far the best of the films this duo made before Farley’s tragic overdose in 1997. Black Sheep is a pale imitation.
Black Sheep is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 You get a pretty decent 1080p transfer using an AVC/MPEG-4 codec. The bit rate averages a solid 33 mbps average. Let’s be frank here, shall we? This isn’t the kind of film that simply demands to be released in high def. If you have a previous version, you’re likely going to be satisfied with it. But if you want a video upgrade, this disc certainly offers you that opportunity. Detail is solid enough, and some of the Washington vistas are pretty sweet to look at. Everything has been improved from the earlier release. Contrast and black levels are relatively solid throughout.
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track is a bit of a disappointment. I expected the songs to really pop, but they never did. There’s a pretty good soundtrack here with a hefty collection of solid gold songs that don’t ever sound as good as a mediocre CD release. Dialog is fine here, and that’s what you’re likely looking for anyway. This isn’t an explosive or aggressive mix. There are a few moments that bring your surrounds to live. Your sub will snooze most of the time.
This was the last of the Farley/Spade films. There likely would have been more had Farley not overdosed shortly after the movie was released. I wish I could say he left us with some of his best work, but he didn’t. It’s a bit ironic that I find myself watching and reviewing this film at the same time I was doing the same for the television show 8 Simple Rules. Both deal with the end of comedic careers. In one, the actor left us with perhaps his best work. In the other the actor merely buffooned his way across 80 minutes of screen time. “You should work up to that, kinda leaves you nowhere to go.”