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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » SNL: The Best of Chris Farley
SNL: The Best of Chris Farley
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // Unrated // February 1, 2011
List Price: $14.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Preston Jones | posted January 20, 2011 | E-mail the Author
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The Show

Although the late Chris Farley only spent five seasons on "Saturday Night Live," he enjoyed an influence that can still be observed today. The Wisconsin native found himself on the show while a slew of comedians -- everyone from David Spade and Adam Sandler to Rob Schneider and Chris Rock -- that would fundamentally shape the tenor and tone of televised and cinematic comedy for a solid decade. The number of indelible characters Farley created -- who could forget motivational speaker Matt Foley, heart attack-prone Chicago Bears fan Todd and the "air-quotes" addicted Bennett Brauer? -- remain just as hysterically funny now as they were when they were first revealed in the early '90s.

Farley exploded off the screen and wasted little time making the transition to Hollywood, where he made a series of cameos in "SNL"-affiliated films (like Coneheads and Wayne's World) before endearing himself to a generation of teenaged moviegoers in works like Tommy Boy and its follow-up, Black Sheep. The less said about subsequent films, like Beverly Hills Ninja or Almost Heroes, the better.

Although Farley died, tragically, at the age of 33 in 1997, the work he did on "SNL" holds up and, in a testament to his enduring popularity, is being released for the third time as part of Lionsgate's ongoing "SNL" best-of collection. (The previous DVDs were issued in 2000 and 2003. From what I can tell, based on some Google fu, the only thing that makes this latest release worth considering is the addition of five new sketches, detailed below in the supplements section. This lone addition is all that makes this release in any way significantly different from the existing DVDs. Although the 2000 edition is out of print, the 2003 edition is still available.) The primary sketches, apart from the four montages, included on this Best of Chris Farley disc are: "Andrew Giuliani Open"; "Chris & Mom"; "Motivational Speaker"; "Hibernol"; "Chippendales"; "Bill Swerski's Superfans"; "The Chris Farley Show"; "Bennett Brauer"; "Schillervisions"; "Lunch Lady"; "Japanese Game Show" and "Focus on Beauty."

There are moments where viewers may feel a poignant twinge, particularly when Farley and co-star Phil Hartman appear together onscreen. It only serves as a reminder that both men were taken much too young and, had they lived beyond their initial fame, would've likely kept us laughing well into the 21st century (as nearly all of their "SNL" contemporaries have). Over the course of this concise, 61-minute compilation, those who first giggled helplessly when Farley barreled onto "SNL" can laugh anew at his antics and those who weren't aware of him while he was alive can get a remarkably thorough overview of one of the funniest comedians of the '90s.

The DVD

The Video:

The Best of Chris Farley arrives on DVD with a 1.33:1 fullscreen transfer that, admittedly, doesn't look phenomenal -- largely due to the vintage nature of the clips. Most of these 20-year-old segments are passable (and far sharper, of course, than a VHS copy would be) but no one will be using this disc as reference material. Although no remastering of the image is apparent, it's nevertheless the best these sketches will probably ever look.

The Audio:

As with previous "SNL" retrospective DVDs, much like the visual end of things, the audio options available here are restricted to English, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. Generally, the track is very clear and free from distortion. There are occasional drop-outs or briefly unintelligible portions, but they're fleeting (and inherent in the source material) and don't distract from the overall presentation. There are no optional subtitles.

The Extras:

Like most of the Lionsgate "SNL" DVD releases, the supplements are worth a glance, but are far from definitive. Leading off is a two minute, two second dress sketch (presented in fullscreen) that features Farley delivering a repetitive, unfunny "editorial" on "Weekend Update" with Kevin Nealon. A one minute, eight second photo gallery (presented in anamorphic widescreen) of Farley in various "SNL" get-ups is presented, with background music. Three minutes, 40 seconds of outtakes (presented in fullscreen) are offered, as are a pair of vintage Farley TV appearances -- a six minute, 24 second clip from "The Late Show with Conan O'Brien" and a five minute, 29 second clip from "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" -- both presented in fullscreen. A touching, one minute, 22 second collection of family photos (presented in anamorphic widescreen) is included. Again, as I noted above, it seems that the five additional sketches, included here, are the only new material on the DVD. The sketches are playable separately and complete the disc (all sketches are presented in fullscreen):
"Schmitts Gay" (one minute, 25 seconds)
"Motivational speaker/Halloween (five minutes, 21 seconds)
"Gap Girls" (six minutes, nine seconds)
"Bill Swerski's Quiz Masters" (seven minutes, six seconds)
"Update/Bennett Brauer" (three minutes, four seconds).

Final Thoughts:

Although the late Chris Farley only spent five seasons on "Saturday Night Live," he enjoyed an influence that can still be observed today. The Wisconsin native found himself on the show while a slew of comedians -- everyone from David Spade and Adam Sandler to Rob Schneider and Chris Rock -- that would fundamentally shape the tenor and tone of televised and cinematic comedy for a solid decade. There are moments where viewers may feel a poignant twinge, particularly when Farley and co-star Phil Hartman appear together onscreen. It only serves as a reminder that both men were taken much too young and, had they lived beyond their initial fame, would've likely kept us laughing well into the 21st century (as nearly all of their "SNL" contemporaries have). Over the course of this concise, 61-minute compilation, those who first giggled helplessly when Farley barreled onto "SNL" can laugh anew at his antics and those who weren't aware of him while he was alive can get a remarkably thorough overview of one of the funniest comedians of the '90s. Recommended.

i
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