"Almost Heroes", which already bears the distinction of being the late Chris Farley
's final starring role, commits the cardinal sin of comedies.
It's not funny.
Telling the wayward tale of two path-forging explorers of the American West who weren't Lewis and Clark, this ersatz Monty Python exercise desperately attempts to reproduce the offhanded flippancy of that famed British troupe with resoundingly hollow results.
While the blustery comic is teamed with Matthew Perry, the picture will no doubt attract rabid Farley fans rather than "Friends" fans -- and even they will be turned off by the endless chatter that comes with precious little payoff.
Farley, in a somewhat more subdued turn than usual, is nonetheless the best thing about "Almost Heroes", which tells the story of bumbling frontiersmen Bartholomew Hunt (the Big Guy
) and the foppish Leslie Edwards
(Perry) in their efforts to beat Lewis and Clark to the Pacific Ocean in 1804.
Assembling a motley crew -- including wild-eyed French explorer Guy Fontenot (an amusing Eugene Levy
) and his beauteous native wife Shaquinna (Lisa Barbuscia
) -- Edwards and his trusty tracker Hunt push forward into the New World through the untamed wilds, encountering noble Indian warriors and not-so-noble Spanish conquistadors led by the uppity but well-coiffed Hidalgo (Kevin Dunn).
As Farley's partner in path-finding, Perry makes for a poor John Cleese
, and while he seems to be enjoying himself, the performance is a flimsy one. It needed to be bumped up several degrees in the pomposity department.
Although he's underserved by the spotty script, director Christopher Guest can't seem to do much with it. It's doubly disappointing given the sharp satirical touch he showed with "Waiting for Guffman" and "The Big Picture". Most of the smirky setups land with an thud, leaving gaping holes where the laughter should go.
Turner Pictures presents
a Di Novi Pictures production
Director: Christopher Guest
Producer: Denise Di Novi
Screenwriters: Mark Nutter & Tom Wolfe &
Directors of photography: Adam Kimmel,
Production designer: Joseph Garrity
Editor: Ronald Roose
Costume designer: Durinda Wood
Music: Jeffrey CJ Vanston
Bartholomew Hunt: Chris Farley
Leslie Edwards: Matthew Perry
Guy Fontenot: Eugene Levy
Hidalgo: Kevin Dunn
Jonah: Bokeem Woodbine
Shaquinna: Lisa Barbuscia
Narrator: Harry Shearer
Running time -- 91 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13