Chris Farley is a funny guy, but only to a select audience. He seems to appeal only to people who are, for a lack of a better word, not too sophisticated when it comes to humor. Farley is a comic actor who relies on overacting. No matter what the comic situation is, he attempts to make the audience laugh with hysterical physical movements and loud utterances. He even does this with pretty much every movie he has appeared in. That makes the comedy even more predictable than it already is.
Let’s take, for example, the 1997 comedy movie Beverly Hills Ninja. Farley plays Haru, an American who was shipwrecked in Japan as a baby and then raised by a clan of ninjas. While the rest of the clan has mastered the art of ninjitsu, Haru clearly has not. Every single moment of clumsiness involving Haru is unfunny and mostly predictable. There’s no surprise or sense of unexpectedness with the comedy, and Farley does nothing but go over the top while falling flat.
The fact that Haru gets a chance to be a hero doesn’t make it any better. When a beautiful woman played by Nicollette Sheridan asks Haru for his help, he continues to be the fat clumsy guy he is. This leads to Haru crossing paths with a villain who has a counterfeit money scheme. While Haru predictably becomes a hero, he is the exact same character as the beginning of the movie. Thank goodness the movie is only a little over 80 minutes long.
Let me emphasize the two things that make good comedy. First, you need to surprise the audience. Yes, I mentioned this already, but it’s such an important element in comedy that I feel the need to repeat it. If you throw an oddball in the audience’s direction, the feeling of getting thrown off can push people to laugh. A predictable joke doesn’t do that. And even if you have good jokes, you need the second element of correct timing and intensity. The funny character should be unaware of the absurdity of the comic situation, which is funny because any sign that an actor is aware of the joke will only ruin the performance.
With all of this, I really can’t consider Chris Farley to be funny with most people, me included. On top of that, the script of this movie feels a bit amateurish and the acting feels uninspired, especially with Farley. To be fair, I’ve seen comedies that are worse than this one, and admittedly, a few scenes made me smile. Other than that, I’ll have to give this comedy a negative rating. The only benefit you can get out of this movie is understanding how NOT to do comedy. If you want a good comedy, look elsewhere.