I Am Chris Farley

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
I Am Chris Farley Movie Poster Image
Joyous docu celebrates comedian's life; some edgy stuff.
  • NR
  • 2015
  • 94 minutes

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Kids say

age 17+
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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Celebrates the comedian's life, praising him for his kindness and generosity and acknowledging the power of laughter -- but also warning viewers about the dangers of drinking and drugs.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Teens with showbiz aspirations may aspire to be as funny and as successful as Farley, and he's described as incredibly kind and generous, but his excessive lifestyle and alcohol and drug problems make him a less-than-ideal role model.

Violence

Physical humor and pratfalls; Farley was willing to hurt himself for a laugh.

Sex

Some innuendo (Farley liked to drop his pants and take his penis out). Woman in bikini.

Language

Occasional strong language includes "f--k," "motherf----r," "p---y," "s--t," "d--k," "ass."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

References to alcohol and drugs. Farley, who's described as being "messed up," died of a drug overdose. Brief scenes of drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that I Am Chris Farley is a documentary about the Saturday Night Live star/comic actor (Tommy Boy), who died of a drug overdose in 1997. The film deals lightly with Farley's excessive drinking and drug use; mostly it celebrates the life of a man who was kind, generous, and very funny. Occasional strong language includes several uses of "f--k," "s--t," and "p---y," and there are some images of drinking. Clips include pratfalls, and it's said that Farley didn't perform them in the proper way but didn't care because he was willing to hurt himself for a laugh. Some sexual innuendo is described, mainly in stories of Farley dropping his pants/showing others his genitals. Teens interested in comedy or acting may be inspired to emulate Farley, but the movie does a pretty fair job of cautioning against drug use and drinking.

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What's the story?

Chris Farley was born in 1964 in Madison, Wisc., into a large family (he was one of four boys) and almost immediately began clowning around. He loved sports and longed to be on a football or rugby team, but it was during a stint at summer camp that he first participated in a play. It quickly became apparent how enormously talented Farley was: He trained in improvisation and joined Second City in Chicago -- where he perfected his famous "Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker" character -- before becoming a member of the Saturday Night Live cast in 1990. Instant success led to drinking and drugs, and, after making a splash in feature films with Tommy Boy (1995), Farley died in 1997 of an overdose. His colleagues recall him as the funniest person they ever knew.

Is it any good?

Judging by the talent who showed up for this documentary, it's obvious how beloved Farley was; even if it skirts over some of the more unpleasant details of his life, this is a joyous celebration. Famous folks like Dan Aykroyd, Adam Sandler, Bob Odenkirk, Mike Myers, David Spade, and Saturday Night Live creator/producer Lorne Michaels all turn up to sing Farley's praises. The refrain is that he was the funniest person they ever knew and that working with him was unforgettable.

Female interviewees like Bo Derek, Christina Applegate, and one-time girlfriend Lorri Bagley add dimensions when they talk about Farley's gentle, childlike nature and his kindness. (Apparently, his dream was to become famous enough to be able to cheer up sick kids in the hospital.) Farley's family agrees on his unquenchable energy and enormous appetite for life, which eventually led to drugs. The details of his addiction and overdose are mildly glossed over, but clips of Farley in his prime still have the power to crack us up.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Chris Farley's excessive drinking and drug use. How does the movie depict these things? Does it celebrate or condemn them? What are the consequences?

  • Is Farley a role model? Why or why not?

  • Why would becoming famous quickly take a toll on a person? What are the advantages and disadvantages of being famous?

Movie details

For kids who love comedy

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