Black Sheep (1996) 
Blu-ray Comedy
Written by Noah Fleming   
Wednesday, 13 May 2009

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As Paramount keeps pumping out the Lorne Michaels productions, "Black Sheep" now hits Blu-ray.  "Black Sheep" is the unofficial sequel to "Tommy Boy," which was released late last year.  It is unofficial in that it retains the same two lead actors, but in different roles and a different story.  However, the acting between David Spade and Chris Farley is so similar that I would flat out call it a sequel.

The film was released just one year after "Tommy Boy."  The film is one of Farley's last works before his tragic death in 1998.  Unfortunately, I am more inclined to remember him in "Beverly Hills Ninja," because "Black Sheep" is just not that stellar.  I laughed here and there, but the story is put second to the slapstick humor, and that only goes so far.

Chris Farley stars as Mike Donnelly, a man that has disaster seem to follow him wherever he goes.  Gee, sounds like "Tommy Boy" to me.  Mike's brother, Al (Tim Matheson) is running for governor of Washington.  Mike wants nothing more than to help him get elected.  But when Mike's help turns into political disasters, Al's political advisor gets him to send Mike far away.

Concerned she is going to lose the election, Mike's opponent, Tracy (Christine Ebersole) takes advantage of Mike's clumsy nature.  She begins to frame him for major disasters.  For example, she has the rec center that Mike used to work for burned to the ground.  A staged photographer catches Mike at the scene.

Where does David Spade come into play?  Well, Spade plays Steve Dodds, a man with political aspirations.  He volunteers to watch over Mike until the election is complete.  Once the two of them are secluded in the mountains the slapstick humor really starts up.  Mike and Steve are constantly being hit with stuff, dragged and beaten.  At one point a giant boulder knocks their cabin on its edge, prompting them to walk at a 45-degree angle all the time.  Oh, and let's not forget the bat chase sequence.

The film finally reaches the end in which Mike discovers that Governor Tracy cheated in the election, staging votes for people that had long been deceased.  It all unfolds in a matter of minutes, meaning that it took a long time of going nowhere for the final moments to occur.  The reason why the film gets such decent marks from me is that the acting was quite funny.  It I judged the film on the story only then it would probably only get a 1.5 or 2 out of 5 star rating.

"Black Sheep" arrives on Blu-ray with a transfer that is much better than its "Tommy Boy" predecessor.  The film grain has been smoothed out, but the details don't suffer terribly.  The black levels remain stable, but they are not the richest that I have seen.  Overall, the image remains natural looking throughout the film.  The colors are accurate but not overly vibrant.  Shadow delineation is also decent and stable.  The image doesn't really pop off the screen.  However, the naturalness of the image does make you feel like you are in the film.  When it comes to the woodland sequences, this especially holds true.  The details on the trees, leaves, dirt, etc are all wonderfully represented.  The source print is also relatively free from scratches and blemishes.  This image transfer won't be burned in your memory, but it is more than adequate.

The audio is presented in an odd Dolby TrueHD 5.0.  Yes, I did mean to type 5.0, not 5.1.  I take for granted that the Paramount titles come with a Dolby TrieHD track so I didn't think anything of it.  However, it makes complete sense now.  As I watched the film I noticed a lack in the LFE channel, like it wasn't there.  After learning of its 5.0 nature, I went back to the film and turned on bass management.  Ahh, there is the low-end.  Of course, now my mid-range suffered, sounding weak and pitiful.  There is no way to win with this track if you want bass.  This is especially disappointing during scenes such as the tumbling boulder.  Here comes this massive boulder and there is no real bass to speak of.  Bummer.  Other than that, the dialogue is strong and clear.  No problems there.  The surround channels may as well have been turned off.  The only time they were noticeably engaged was during the concert sequence.  Other than that, the mix is front heavy.  There isn't really any dynamic, and as I mentioned the LFE channel is not there so frequency response is not exactly level.  An okay audio track, but it could have been a lot better given the sound design possibilities with a comedy like this.

Special Features – that's easy.  There are none.  That's right, zero.  That takes care of that.  The special features have a rating of .5 out of 5 stars only because the system doesn't allow for a 0 rating.

"Black Sheep" is a decent comedy, saved only by the chemistry between Spade and Farley.  If you are looking for a comedy with a well-thought out story then this isn't the film for you.  The video offers a fairly nice upgrade from the standard DVD, but the lossless audio track doesn't offer much of anything.  This is probably worth a rent.
Studio Paramount Home Entertainment
MPAA Rating PG-13
Starring Chris Farley, David Spade, Tim Matheson, Christine Ebersole, Gary Busey
Director Penelope Spheeris
Film Release Year 1996
Release Year 2009
Resolution(s) 1080p (main feature)
Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Running Time 1 hr. 26 mins.
Sound Formats English Dolby TrueHD 5.0 • French Dolby Digital 2.0 • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.0
Subtitles English SDH • English • French • Portuguese • Spanish
Special Features None
Forum Link
Reviewer Noah Fleming

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