Almost Heroes

Nashville Scene

DIRECTED BY: Christopher Guest

REVIEWED: 06-22-98

Bad comedies must suffer a unique kind of entropy. The talent involved in Almost Heroes--director Christopher Guest, costars Matthew Perry and the late Chris Farley, supporting actors Eugene Levy, Kevin Dunn, and Harry Shearer--must have come to the project with high hopes. The story of a pair of bumbling explorers running a shadow expedition to the famed Lewis and Clark journey must have seemed like the kind of premise that imagination and improvisation could enliven on the set (especially since the script by Mark Nutter, Tom Wolfe III, and Boyd Hale offers little to count on). But between Farley's humorless shouting and Perry's wooden attempt to combine his crackerjack Friends persona with an ill-advised patrician accent, Guest must have decided that giving this film the heart that he had brought to The Big Picture and Waiting for Guffman wasn't worth the trouble.

There are some funny bits in Almost Heroes: a great piece of silent comedy in which Farley tries to swipe some eagle eggs, and the loss of more than half of the expedition crew, which decides instead to go to New Orleans because "the food alone is worth the trip." There's even the occasional funny line. (My favorite: "You smell like you passed through the system of a sick old woman.") But by and large, the comedy is far from inspired. Watching people fall down and holler euphemisms for excrement seems to be the film's raison d'Étre. By the end of Almost Heroes, you can almost feel the exhaustion of the cast and crew, as they yearn to wrap for the day and get back to drinking up their per diem.

--Noel Murray

Other Films by Christopher Guest
Waiting for Guffman

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Dog Years
The Big Hit
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