Black Sheep (1996 film)

Last updated
Black Sheep
BlackSheep Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Penelope Spheeris
Written by Fred Wolf
Produced by Lorne Michaels
Starring
Cinematography Daryn Okada
Edited byRoss Albert
Music by William Ross
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date
  • February 2, 1996 (1996-02-02)
Running time
86 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Box office$32.4 million [1]

Black Sheep is a 1996 American comedy film directed by Penelope Spheeris, written by Fred Wolf, and starring Chris Farley and David Spade. The film follows a political aide who is assigned to control the brother of a candidate for Governor of Washington, who attempts to offer his campaign unwanted and publicly embarrassing help. The film also stars Tim Matheson, Christine Ebersole, and Gary Busey. Chris Owen and Wolf have cameo appearances, and Farley's real-life brothers Kevin and John appear as security guards at an MTV Rock the Vote concert. The film grossed $32.3 million during its U.S. theatrical run. [2]

Contents

Plot

Mike Donnelly, a good-natured but loud and bumbling oddball of his family, is driving an advertisement truck to support his brother Al Donnelly's campaign for Governor of Washington. His competition is incumbent Evelyn Tracy. Mike is chased by dogs while driving and crashes into a local movie theatre. Al's campaign manager, Roger Kovary, advises Al to get rid of Mike, but Al decides to have Mike campaign for him in town with the assistance of campaign aide Steve Dodds, who accepts the job in return for a spot on Al's staff following the election. As Steve goes to pick up Mike, he hits crazed Vietnam veteran Sgt. Drake Sabitch, who ends up stealing his rental car.

Later on, Mike tries to stop underage kids from drinking, but incriminating pictures make it look like he was drinking with them, leading to his termination from a county recreation center. While packing up, he runs into a pair of thugs who set fire to the building, while the same photographer takes potentially incriminating pictures of Mike right after the thugs leave the scene of the fire. However, the first cop to arrive at the scene is Robbie Mieghem, a friend of Mike's who lets him and Steve leave before the police arrive. The two take off in Mike's car and, per Kovary's instructions, head for a shack in rural Garfield County.

The next day, as Steve and Mike hang fliers, Steve tries to make a call via cell phone; while looking for a place with reception, Steve stumbles upon the home of the aforementioned Drake Sabitch - an old school bus with a TV, a hammock, a grill, and several weapons. While trying to find a high-ground to get reception on his phone, Steve accidentally loosens a rock in a pile of stones. Later on, as the guys play checkers, a huge boulder rolls down the mountain, almost completely knocking their cabin off its foundation; that night, a stormy wind blows the roof away and hail falls inside. The next day, Mike tries to talk to Al, but Kovary refuses, so Mike decides to head into Seattle that night to talk to Al, who is going on MTV's Rock the Vote campaign. However, after hanging out with some Rastafarians and being mistaken for his brother by Mudhoney, Mike makes a fool of himself onstage (culminating to his yelling "KILL WHITEY!" to a suddenly silent audience) as a shocked Al and Kovary helplessly watch. Because of his stunt, Al decides to no longer let Mike help him with the campaign, leaving Mike down. The next day, Steve and Mike sneak into Drake's home (after dodging some hidden land mines) to watch Al's debate on his TV. When Steve goes outside to use the restroom, he is attacked by Drake, but is saved by Mike, who beats the ex-soldier in unarmed combat. Drake is impressed by Mike's fighting skill and befriends both men.

Governor Tracy, in hopes of sabotaging Al following their debate, purchases the pictures of Mike at the rec center fire and posts them on TV, therefore allowing Tracy to win the election. Mike notices that the total vote count is 1,882 for Garfield County, when in fact there are only 1,502 registered voters there; furthermore, Mike recognizes the two men who set the rec center on fire standing next to Tracy. Mike and Steve go to the Garfield County Courthouse, where they obtain the names of the voters in the election. They discover that over half the people who voted for Tracy have been dead for over ten years (including Drake's father and grandfather), proving Tracy had rigged the elections. To get this to the people and Al, Mike and Steve borrow Robbie's squad car to get to Governor Tracy's victory party the following day.

At the party, the duo appears during Tracy's victory speech and the police try to arrest Mike for arson. At the podium, Mike takes a gun from one of the cops and pretends to hold Steve hostage, while Drake shows up in time to prevent a sniper from shooting Mike and controls the crowd by threatening them with an RPG. Mike reveals Tracy's election fraud, overturning the election results and making Al the winner.

Three months later, Steve is Al's new assistant and advisor, replacing Kovary after earlier in the movie, he made Al choose between his career or being with his "loser" brother and as a result, Al fired him; Al offered Mike a job in his administration, but he declined since he got his job running the recreation center back; and Al has decreased crime rates in Washington. As Al and Steve enter a jet to go to a meeting, Mike's jacket gets caught in the plane's door, causing him to be trapped outside while it takes off.

Cast

Production

Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels produced the film, which was directed by Wayne's World director Penelope Spheeris. Michaels later said that the film was "an act of desperation by Paramount," in that the movie studio had under-promoted Spade and Farley's 1995 film, Tommy Boy and was now looking to profit from the same comedy formula. [3] Michaels had contentious battles with the studio over the script of 1993's Wayne's World 2 , and the animosity between the two camps spilled over into Farley's contract with Paramount. [3] Although his agent lined up possible roles for the actor in The Cable Guy (for which he was offered $3 million) [4] and Kingpin , the movie studio remained firm on wanting another buddy comedy with Farley and Spade. [3]

Having performed an uncredited rewrite of Tommy Boy , Fred Wolf wrote the script for Black Sheep. [5] Wolf said the studio told him to "deliver a finished script by midnight on Sunday, the last day Chris was contractually allowed to get out of the movie. If I didn't have a finished script -- any finished script -- they were going to sue me." [4] Wolf wrote 45 pages within a few days, and dropped the script off at Paramount 15 minutes before his deadline. [4] After reading the script, Farley said that he "wasn't crazy" about it, and only agreed to do the film after coaxing from David Spade. [4]

Spheeris had notable disagreements with writer Fred Wolf and David Spade throughout the entire production of the film. Spheeris fired Wolf from the film three times (he was hired back twice by Farley and once by Lorne Michaels), then refused to speak to him and finally banned him from the set. [6] Her relationship with Spade was equally as tumultuous. Speaking to Farley's official biographer, she said, "I don't think I've ever even smiled at anything David Spade's ever done... I still have a recording of a message David left on my answering machine. He said, 'You've spent this whole movie trying to cut my comedy balls off.'" [6] The two worked together again on the 1998 comedy Senseless .

The combination of bright lights on set and working under sunlight while filming Black Sheep caused permanent damage to David Spade's eyes. Spade says of his condition: "I have to wear a hat even indoors and flashes in particular freak me out. I even have to make them turn down the lights in the make-up trailers. I've become such a pain in the butt with this light-sensitive thing, it's a wonder they don't Just Shoot Me! " [7]

Reception

Black Sheep is the final appearance of Spade and Farley together, and it is often unfavorably compared to Tommy Boy , though it has also gained a cult following. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an approval rating of 28% based on reviews from 32 critics. The site's consensus states: "Chris Farley and David Spade reunite to diminishing returns in Black Sheep, a comedic retread that succumbs to a woolly plot and sophomoric jokes." [8] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade B+ on scale of A to F. [9]

Film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert gave the film "two big thumbs down very big thumbs way down," with Siskel admitting that Black Sheep was one of only three films he ever walked out on, the others being Million Dollar Duck and Maniac . Siskel stated several times that he did not like Chris Farley and thought of him as a terrible actor, stating at one point "I hate Chris Farley; [he] just rubs me the wrong way. I knew John Belushi, I knew John Candy, he's no John Belushi or John Candy." Ebert (who gave the movie thumbs down) called it "not only one of the worst comedies I've ever seen, but one of the least ambitious; it doesn't even feel like they're trying to make a good movie." [10] A few weeks later, during their televised review of Happy Gilmore , Ebert tried to defend Farley, saying that he thought Siskel was too hard on him, and that he believed with the right script Farley could be good in a film (he also said that during the initial episode). [11]

The opinions of other reviewers were mixed. In his review, Richard Leiby of The Washington Post wrote "Farley and Spade manage to wring humor from a series of juvenile setups and predictable pratfalls." [12] Barry Walters of the San Francisco Examiner wrote that "there isn't one shred of slightly intellectual wit" in the film. [13]

Black Sheep was one of the final films reviewed by Jeffery Lyons and Michael Medved on their PBS television show Sneak Previews which was ultimately cancelled later in 1996 after this film's release. Although both were fans of Farley, Tommy Boy and director Penelope Spheeris, whose film Wayne's World they enjoyed due to its wit, they felt this film was offensive, unfunny and filled with needless slapstick.

Related Research Articles

<i>Waynes World</i> (film) 1992 film by Penelope Spheeris

Wayne's World is a 1992 American comedy film directed by Penelope Spheeris. It was also produced by Lorne Michaels and written by Mike Myers and Bonnie & Terry Turner. Based on the Saturday Night Live sketch Wayne's World, it stars Myers in his feature film debut as Wayne Campbell and Dana Carvey as Garth Algar, a pair of rock and heavy metal fans who broadcast a public-access television show. It also features Tia Carrere, Rob Lowe, Lara Flynn Boyle, Brian Doyle-Murray, Chris Farley, Ed O'Neill, Ione Skye, Meat Loaf, and Alice Cooper in supporting roles.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Adam Sandler</span> American actor, comedian, and filmmaker (born 1966)

Adam Richard Sandler is an American actor, comedian, film producer, and writer. He was a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1990 to 1995, before going on to star in numerous Hollywood films, which have combined to earn more than $4 billion at the box office. Sandler had an estimated net worth of $420 million in 2021, and signed a further three-movie deal with Netflix worth over $350 million.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chris Farley</span> American actor and comedian (1964–1997)

Christopher Crosby Farley was an American actor and comedian. Farley was known for his loud, energetic comedic style, and was a member of Chicago's Second City Theatre and later a cast member of the NBC sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live between 1990 and 1995. He later went on to pursue a film career, appearing in films such as Airheads, Tommy Boy, Black Sheep, Beverly Hills Ninja, and Almost Heroes.

<i>Waynes World 2</i> 1993 film by Stephen Surjik

Wayne's World 2 is a 1993 American comedy film directed by Stephen Surjik and starring Mike Myers and Dana Carvey as hosts of a public-access television cable television show in Aurora, Illinois. The film is the sequel to Wayne's World (1992), which was itself adapted from a sketch on NBC's Saturday Night Live.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Penelope Spheeris</span> American film director and producer

Penelope Spheeris is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter. She has directed both documentary and scripted films. Her best-known works include the trilogy titled The Decline of Western Civilization, each covering an aspect of Los Angeles underground culture, and Wayne's World, her highest-grossing film.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gene Siskel</span> American film critic (1946–1999)

Eugene Kal Siskel was an American film critic and journalist for the Chicago Tribune. Along with colleague Roger Ebert, he hosted a series of movie review programs on television from 1975 until his death in 1999.

<i>Tommy Boy</i> 1995 film by Peter Segal

Tommy Boy is a 1995 American buddy adventure comedy film directed by Peter Segal, written by Bonnie and Terry Turner, produced by Lorne Michaels, and starring former Saturday Night Live castmates and close friends Chris Farley and David Spade. This was the first of many films that Segal has filmed with former SNL castmates. It tells the story of a socially and emotionally immature man (Farley) who learns lessons about friendship and self-worth, following the sudden death of his industrialist father.

<i>Joe Dirt</i> 2001 film by Dennie Gordon

Joe Dirt is a 2001 American adventure comedy film, directed by Dennie Gordon, starring David Spade, Dennis Miller, Christopher Walken, Adam Beach, Brian Thompson, Brittany Daniel, Jaime Pressly, Erik Per Sullivan, and Kid Rock. The film was written by Spade and Fred Wolf, and produced by Robert Simonds. The plot revolves around a "white trash" young man, Joe Dirt, who at first seems to be a "loser", a failure, an antihero. As he travels in search of his parents, his finer qualities are increasingly revealed. He ends up with a new "family" of close friends, people he has helped and who respect him. While critical reception was mostly negative, the film was a modest financial success. A sequel, Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser, premiered on Crackle on July 16, 2015.

Saturday Night Live is an American sketch comedy series created and produced by Lorne Michaels for most of the show's run. The show has aired on NBC since 1975.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Matt Foley</span> Fictional character

Matt Foley is a fictional character from the sketch comedy program Saturday Night Live performed by Chris Farley. Foley is a motivational speaker who exhibits characteristics atypical of someone in that position: whereas motivational speakers are usually successful and charismatic, Foley is abrasive, clumsy, and down on his luck. The character was popular in its original run and went on to become one of Farley's best-known characters.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kevin Farley</span> Actor

Kevin Prindiville Farley is an American actor, comedian, writer, producer and director.

<i>Amazon Women on the Moon</i> 1987 film

Amazon Women on the Moon is a 1987 American satirical science fiction film that parodies the experience of watching low-budget films on late-night television. The film, featuring a large ensemble cast including cameo appearances from film and TV stars and even non-actors, was written by Michael Barrie and Jim Mulholland, and takes the form of a compilation of 21 comedy skits directed by five different directors: Joe Dante, Carl Gottlieb, Peter Horton, John Landis, and Robert K. Weiss.

<i>Jury Duty</i> (film) 1995 American film

Jury Duty is a 1995 American courtroom comedy film directed by John Fortenberry, written by Neil Tolkin, Barbara Williams, and Adam Small, and starring Pauly Shore, Tia Carrere, Stanley Tucci, Brian Doyle-Murray, Shelley Winters, and Abe Vigoda.

<i>Keys to Tulsa</i> 1997 film

Keys to Tulsa is a 1997 American crime film directed by Leslie Greif, and starring Eric Stoltz and James Spader. It is based on the novel of the same name by Brian Fair Berkey. There is an unrated version that runs 3 minutes longer than the theatrical release.

<i>Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star</i> 2003 film by Sam Weisman

Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star is a 2003 American comedy film directed by Sam Weisman and starring David Spade, Mary McCormack, Jon Lovitz, Craig Bierko, Alyssa Milano, and Rob Reiner. Spade portrays a child actor who fell into obscurity as an adult and who attempts to revive his career by getting a part in Rob Reiner's next film. In addition, the movie shows Dickie interacting with numerous former child stars, played by over two dozen actual former stars lampooning their careers, such as Leif Garrett, Barry Williams, Corey Feldman, Emmanuel Lewis, Dustin Diamond, and Danny Bonaduce.

<i>8 Heads in a Duffel Bag</i> 1997 black comedy film by Tom Schulman

8 Heads in a Duffel Bag is a 1997 black comedy film starring Joe Pesci, Kristy Swanson and David Spade. It was the directorial debut of screenwriter Tom Schulman. In 1998 the film won the Brussels International Festival of Fantastic Film's Silver Raven award.

<i>Benji the Hunted</i> 1987 film by Joe Camp

Benji the Hunted is a 1987 American adventure drama film directed and written by Joe Camp and produced by Ben Vaughn. It is the fourth film in the Benji series. The film is about Benji trying to survive in the wilderness and looks after the orphan cougar cubs after their mother is shot and killed by the hunter. It was released by Walt Disney Pictures. This was the last Benji movie to star Benjean, daughter of Higgins, in the title role.

<i>Adios Amigo</i> 1975 film

Adios Amigo is a 1976 American Western comedy film written, produced and directed by Fred Williamson, who also stars in the lead role. The film co-stars Richard Pryor and James Brown.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">David Spade</span> American actor and stand-up comedian (born 1964)

David Wayne Spade is an American actor, stand-up comedian, television host, and writer. He was a cast member on Saturday Night Live in the 1990s, and he later began an acting career in both film and television. He also starred or co-starred in the films Tommy Boy (1995), Black Sheep (1996), Joe Dirt (2001), Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star (2003), The Benchwarmers (2006), Grown Ups (2010) and its 2013 sequel, The Ridiculous 6 (2015), The Do-Over (2016), and The Wrong Missy (2020).

Fred Wolf is an American film director, screenwriter, television writer, and former stand-up comedian.

References

  1. "Black Sheep (1996)". Box Office Mojo . Retrieved December 14, 2012.
  2. Black Sheep (1996) - Box office / business
  3. 1 2 3 'Farley, Tom; Colby, Tanner (2008). The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three Acts. Viking Adult. p. 214. ISBN   978-1616804589.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Farley, Tom; Colby, Tanner (2008). The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three Acts. Viking Adult. p. 215. ISBN   978-1616804589.
  5. Fleming, Michael (18 April 2000). "Sandler's high 'Five'; 'Neverland' prepped". Variety.
  6. 1 2 Farley, Tom; Colby, Tanner (2008). The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three Acts. Viking Adult. ISBN   978-1616804589.[ page needed ]
  7. Louis B. Hobson (September 5, 2003). "Spade digs up dirt". Cinema Confidential. Archived from the original on 2012-07-10. Retrieved September 11, 2013.
  8. "Black Sheep". Rotten Tomatoes . Retrieved 2021-01-09.
  9. "BLACK SHEEP (1996) B+". CinemaScore . Archived from the original on 2018-12-20.
  10. Broken Arrow / Black Sheep / Beautiful Girls (video). Siskel&Ebert.org. 1996. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
  11. City Hall / The Late Shift / Happy Gilmore / Oscar Surprises (video). Siskel&Ebert.org. 1996. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
  12. "Black Sheep: Good and Baa-d". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-02-15.
  13. Barry Walters (Feb 2, 1996). "Ho-hum, another lousy flick from some SNL veterans". San Francisco Examiner . Hearst Communications Inc. Retrieved 2021-02-15.