When Black Sheep hit theaters in 1996, it was instantly dubbed as the unofficial Tommy Boy 2, with the similarities being impossible to ignore. The movie paired up Chris Farley and David Spade in roles nearly identical to their previous effort and followed a similar storyline. Only this time, the duo were trying to save a political campaign instead of an auto parts factory. Critics weren’t especially kind to Tommy Boy, and they were even more ruthless towards its little brother. Take this review from USA Today for example:
Black Sheep is bleatingly awful as it reteams Chris Farley and David Spade, the poor idiot’s Abbott and Costello, in a comedy so desperately inept it makes their previous effort, Tommy Boy, look like a minefield of high wit.
As merciless as movie critics were, it didn’t stop SNL fans from going to the theater to watch David Spade chastise Chris Farley for falling down, as the movie took the number one spot its opening weekend.
It was, of course, those mindless slapstick gags that critics loathed about the film that made it such a hit with its audience. Nobody was better at falling down for comedic effect in the ’90s than Chris Farley, and Black Sheep had him falling down for 87 minutes. The man was basically a live-action cartoon character. To mark the movie’s 20th anniversary, let’s look back and rank all those comic accidents Chris Farley gave us in Black Sheep.
9. Tree vs. Face.
While Mike (Chris Farley) and Steve (David Spade) stumble around rural Washington trying to find a cell phone signal, Mike takes a smack upside the forehead from a tree branch. It’s certainly not the most painful accident he’ll run into on their trip, but it’s right out of the Three Stooges handbook and a classic gag. Plus, it serves as a warning of relying on technology while in the great outdoors. Mother Nature can be a cruel teacher sometimes.
8. Staple gun to the hand.
Name an actor who’s better at pretending to staple their hand to a tree than Chris Farley. Can’t be done. Mike tries to help spread his brother’s name, but even the simplest of tasks turn into painful misfortunes. We never see Steve administrator any sort of medical attention to Mike on their road trip, but the guys had to be burning through first-aid kits.
7. Mike dry humps Governor Tracy.
Once Mike, Steve and yes, Gary Busey save the day and expose Governor Tracy’s corruption, all that’s left is to humiliate her even more. This, of course, is accomplished with Mike accidentally falling on her and getting trapped under the podium. Naturally, lots of yelling and struggling follows, giving us what was arguably the most uncomfortable dry hump in ’90s cinema.
6. Mike gets trapped on top of an antenna.
I like to think the idea of having Mike hooked to a raising TV antenna probably came from the Weekend Update gag with Chris Farley’s flying around the SNL set. There’s just something inherently funny about a guy that large and energetic being raised up into the sky like a live-action Christmas tree topper. Only with yelling and flailing limbs, of course.
5. Mike is dragged out of the parking lot.
Just like Tommy Boy, Black Sheep makes ample use of the car as a prop for Chris Farley to batter himself with for comedic effect. And what better way than to have him dragged through a parking lot like a screaming rag doll? The campaign buttons sparking on the asphalt, Mike’s smokey blackened face at the end, this scene might as well be out of a cartoon.
4. Tumble in the rough.
The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced the writers just adapted Wile E. Coyote pratfalls for Black Sheep. Only instead of Wile E. Coyote falling from one breaking cliff to the next, Mike takes the quick way down the mountain tumbling down in three painful trips. And in trademark Chris Farley fashion, his hair following the aftermath of the accident does not disappoint.
3. Mike takes out a row of parking meters.
Between Billy Madison, Tommy Boy, and Black Sheep, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that Chris Farley’s characters have no business behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. The guy turns normal city streets into a demolition derby and mows down whatever gets in his path — in this case, a row of parking meters. No wonder his brother didn’t want him helping out with his gubernatorial campaign.
2. Flying high.
Like any Chris Farley movie, Farley sends his audience out with one last over-the-top gag, this time getting his jacket caught in his brother’s departing Cessna. It’s pretty easy to see the gag coming, but c’mon, would you prefer that Chris Farley not make his exit yelling as he dangles from a plane upon takeoff?
1. Boulder vs. Cabin.
If you haven’t seen Black Sheep since 1996, this is likely the scene you remember. It was a highlight of the trailer and sums up perfectly how misfortune just seems to follow Mike and Steve. Taking the notion of a butterfly’s wings bringing about a tidal wave, Mike and Steve find out that all it takes is some bird sh*t to completely ruin a perfectly nice mountain cabin.