Almost Heroes

Like Tommy Boy, if it were
about Manifest Destiny
"Almost History... Almost Legends... Mostly Ridiculous."

Hey gang, welcome to Thursday at The Tagline! Today I thought I'd pick from a genre I more seldom address, and review a movie that most audiences that saw it enjoyed, and that virtually every critic who reviewed it hated: Almost Heroes. For those who were about 10 in 1998 when it came out (and I was 11) Almost Heroes starred Matthew Perry as the foppish explorer Lesley Edwards, and Chris Farley as his boorish partner Bartholomew Hunt. Together, the two set out in search of the western edge of North America, following in the wake of Lewis & Clark, in the hopes of beating them to planting a flag on the beaches of the Pacific. This endeavor is hindered by the fact that Edwards is a dandy, and Hunt is a drunken imbecile. Also the crew accompanying them includes some of the most incompetent simpletons one could hope to find. Among them is a crazed Frenchman and his indian woman (their group's version of Sacajawea), a priest, a dumb guy who loses several limbs, and Edwards' man servant (played by Bokeem Woodbine, you saw him in Total Recall) who is essentially the only person in the group who isn't braindead, except maybe the indian woman. Along their way, Edwards and Hunt are waylayed by their own stupidity, the French guy being really jealous of anyone looking at his Indian lady, and also an insane conquistador named Hidalgo, and his henchmen. Yadda yadda hilarity ensues.

Mr. President, I saw a naked indian woman.
This movie, while of course being really stupid (like pretty much any funny movie worth its farts) has a lot of really funny stuff going on. Among my favorites, there is one point when Edwards becomes feverish and delirious, and rants to Shaquinna (who he thinks is the president) that the circus bears are going to rise up, and soon we'll be the ones wearing hats and performing for their amusement. He then remarks about how he saw a naked indian woman (which he did). My other favorite bit involves the recurring attacks of an eagle, which always appears as the same stock clip of an eagle soaring. These are not the only funny things that happen (obviously) but these were a couple of my faves.
Look at these idiots.
As mentioned, this movie was almost universally reviled by critics. I guess they must have a more refined palette for comedy than me or something, but they all seemed to find absolutely no humor to the movie at all. Classier than that, almost every negative review I read wanted to emphasize that not only was the movie not good, but that it was also a terrible end to Chris Farley's career. For those who do not know, Chris Farley died five months before the release of Almost Heroes, and it was dedicated to him. It marked the end of his relatively short film career, after a successful career as a sketch comedian (principally on SNL). While I'm not saying we need to walk on eggshells forever, or even that reviewers should have then, I might not have necessarily gone out of my way to emphasize how crumby the movie was, specifically as it related to the career of a recently dead man who starred in it. This is ignoring that I think that all the critics who didn't like this movie should, to quote another great comedian "suck a chode in the party zone." I'm not saying it wasn't his own fault that he died of a drug OD and heart failure, but maybe be a little less tacky guys.

Rest in peace you blustering lunatic.
Audiences also clearly didn't agree with the critics. While it had a pretty weak showing at the box office (grossing only 6.1 million), DVD sales saw the movie gain at least a modest following, and audience reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, while not stellar, are still substantially better than critic reviews (a pretty solid 61% fresh rating). It's not surprising that critics didn't like this film, considering that most of them didn't much care for the rest of Farley's screen performances either (apparently they didn't like Tommy Boy either? Come on that movie was fucking mint you mirthless jackholes!) The point is, go find a 2 dollar dvd bin, and look for this movie. it'll be worth the effort of digging through mountains of I'd assume The Crow sequels and bad Nicholas Cage movies (I found Drive Angry in one the other day, we all know how I feel about that).

On a related note, it is really weird to think that, had he not died, Chris Farley would have been the voice of Shrek. That is really bizarre for me to try and contemplate. That's all for this week folks! I will not be making a Saturday post, and you have my apologies for that. I will be at AAC in New Hampshire for the weekend! On the off chance that any of you are attending, if you identify yourself as a reader I will give you a magical gift. Otherwise I will give the magical gift to a random stranger on Sunday. See you Tuesday!
It's a copy of The Crow.

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