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Volume 90, Issue 65

Tuesday, January 21, 1997



Fat Farley falls flat

Gazette file photo
EVERYBODY WAS KUNG-FU FIGHTING. Left: Chris Farley does his best imitation of The Muppets' Swedish chef. Right: Farley as Haru and Gobei (Robin Shou) team up in Beverly Hills Ninja.
Beverly Hills Ninja
Directed by Dennis Dugan
Starring Chris Farley, Chris Rock, Robin Shou and Nicollette Sheridan
At Wellington 8, 7:10 and 9:25 p.m.

"Football in the groin had a football in the groin" – Homer Simpson (as movie critic).

Beverly Hills Ninja
1 comedian (fat)
1 plot (optional)
1 pinch funny lines (mild)
1 vapid woman (hot)
Make fat comedian fall and hurt himself continuously until plot resolves. Mix in hot woman and sprinkle sparingly with funny lines. Watch for about 90 minutes.
Serves: children

Hollywood uses the recipe for mediocre comedy again with Beverly Hills Ninja. If you are prepared to be disappointed, this flick duly meets such expectations. This is a comedy made for young children – there is certainly not enough sustenance to slake an adult appetite. This is by no fault of Chris Farley – he is simply the main ingredient in a dish that isn't cooked properly.

The problem with this movie is the same salmonella that taints TV's Saturday Night Live. They use one joke and milk it ad nauseam – spoiled milk so to speak. At the outset of the film Haru, played by Farley, finds himself described by his brother (Robin Shou) as a "big fat fool". . . That's it. . . That's the joke and the premise of the whole movie.

Farley is great at falling into, over and through things, but the "fat fool" humour quickly wears thin. The prat-falls are Farley's strong point, but should not be the sole source of humour for a feature-length film. Michael Richards, Kramer on TV's Seinfeld, uses the same base for his character, but usually his stumbles are precluded by clever dialogue which heightens the effect of his shtick. The producers of this movie hang it all on Farley's shtick.

Let this dish stand for 90 minutes and still the plot does not thicken. As foretold by ancient ninja legend, a white child is to arrive who is to become the Great White Ninja. Baby Farley arrives and is raised to be said ninja. He grows up to be a fat fool. He grows up to be a fat fool. (Sorry, that's necessary to emphasize the redundant nature).

Enter damsel in di-short-dress (Nicollette Sheridan, Deceptions). Her boyfriend, she suspects, is up to no good and has killed her sister, she thinks. Slightly convoluted, you say? Wait there's more! You also get the Ginsu knives. She wants to hire a ninja to help her find the truth. He takes up her case and becomes involved in a caper that brings him and his brother out of Japan to Beverly Hills. Keep in mind that he's a fat fool, because that's the funny part.

The characters are one-dimensional. The audience is treated to quite a few gratuitous T Ôn' A shots of the voluptuous Sheridan, though she and Farley are romantically-challenged. Chris Rock's (CB4) character is barely worth the ink it takes to print this sentence. Shou's character is forgettable even before the movie's over. The villain is neither evil nor funny. When Farley is not falling into things his character is flat and lifeless and simply gearing up for his next fall.

Hopefully Farley will get an opportunity to act in a movie that will allow him to display his humour in other ways. As it stands, Beverly Hills Ninja is a meal that leaves you hungry.

–Carey Weinberg

To Contact The Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca