"Black Sheep" Blu-ray Review
May 15, 2009 by Zach Demeter
Many jokes could be made about Black Sheep. One of which is calling it Tommy Boy 2. Or maybe you could call it the black sheep of the Spade and Farley films. Or maybe you could start to watch it on TV, realize that hey, maybe this is actually pretty good and the eventually realize that no, it really is just a recycled version of Tommy Boy. Granted the first Spade/Farley outing worked with fantastic results, but rather than attempt to capitalize on both of the leading stars fame, they just ended up with a nearly identical movie. The film did gross the same amount as Tommy Boy in theaters, but unlike the aforementioned film, Black Sheep did not maintain a cult following on the home video market. This marks only the second time the film has seen a home video release and neither releases sport extras of any kind.
Meet Mike Donnelly (Chris Farley). He's one lovable, hilarious accident waiting to happen. Dedicated to helping his big brother Al (Tim Matheson) win the race for Washington State governor, he turns every opportunity for votes into an embarrassing disaster. Campaign aide and super slacker Steve Dodds (David Spade) volunteers to baby-sit Mike. Big mistake! When Mike discovers that the incumbent governor is a crook, he dives headfirst into a whole new level of well-intended destruction. Chris Farley and David Spade, the stars of Tommy Boy, once again show why they are "the comedy team of the '90s!" (Leo Quinones, KIIS-FM). Directed by Penelope Spheeris (Wayne's World) and costarring Gary Busey, Black Sheep is "a crowd-pleaser directed with maximum energy!" (Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times). Featuring an electrifying performance by super Seattle band Mudhoney!
Quite honestly the reason this film gets compared so much to Tommy Boy is because it pretty much is an identical story when compared to the first film, although Black Sheep arguably has a lot less heart than Tommy Boy did. While Tommy Boy formed a strong bond between father and son, this film is merely between brothers, a relationship of which we see very little of. This removes the touching emotional element that Tommy Boy had, which was really the only thing it had going for it—it was a humorous movie to be sure, but it had very thin legs to stand on when it came to plot.
So Black Sheep, penned by Fred Wolf (who went onto write and direct such great films as Strange Wilderness and Without a Paddle…which makes me wonder why people keep giving him money), was just devoid of heart from the start and really didn’t pick up any along the way. The only thing it did pick up was a deranged Gary Busey playing…well, it could be himself, but I’ll just assume it isn’t. Granted Busey is pretty entertaining and, hell, so are Spade and Farley, but it’s really just a case of comparing a fresh orange from the fridge to one that’s been sitting in the sun and gotten a bit pruney. Both may technically be fine and you may enjoy that pruney orange, but not to the extent you would the cold and juicy orange from the fridge. If you can’t understand that comparison, it was another allusion to the fact that Black Sheep is a pruney version of Tommy Boy.
As far as mindless entertainment goes, the film is fine when you catch it on Comedy Central while you’re doing something else in a room with a TV, but as far as something that you would actually pick off of your movie shelf and say “yes, I want to watch this!”? Yeah, not happening. It’s a shame too, as the Farley/Spade pairing was one of the better pairings to come out of SNL…but I guess we should just be glad we got a good film out of them at least.
Overall Black Sheep is worth checking out only if you’re a big fan of Tommy Boy and want more of the same in a different skin. Those who are only moderate fans, however, can wait for it to repeat on Comedy Central.
Paramount’s Blu-ray treatment of this film is similar to their other releases: single disc Elite case with the grey wash art coating the disc and a simple and enjoyable menu system. An insert noting firmware upgrades is included and…that’s it in terms of bonuses on this set. The extras clock in at an amazing zero.
An AVC encoded transfer for the film is reminiscent of (yes, I’m going to say it again) Tommy Boy. Fair detail, clean image, but a little on the soft side. This is a comedy though, after all, so seeing hyper-detail of David Spade’s hair isn’t required (or necessary…at all), so expect this to look about as good as this film ever could. The audio arrives in a TrueHD 5.0 mix, which, as evidence by the lack of LFE channel, sports no sub activity. Surrounds are limited as well, with the dialogue driven film pouring out of the front speakers most of the time. Also included are French 2.0, and Spanish 5.0 Dolby Digital tracks and English, English SDH, French, Spanish, and Portutugese subtitles.
Anything else? Nope. That’s it. If you own the DVD release already (for whatever reason) then you can ignore this one. There’s nothing new here and…honestly I’m struggling to understand why Paramount would put this on Blu-ray when they have a whole back catalog of other, better titles to flood the market with. Oh well.
Black Sheep is now available on Blu-ray.