Call it what you will, but this Chris Farley-David Spade re-teaming might as easily be dubbed “Tommy Boy 2,” with a slightly less satisfying mix of broad physical gags and bodily function humor. Riding the recent wave of stupid cinema , Paramount figures to shear off good business among undemanding teen audiences with this fitfully funny entry, seemingly crafted for people who find the new “Saturday Night Live” too intellectually challenging.
Farley again plays an amiable lout who must earn the respect of a family member — in this case, his older brother Al (Tim Matheson), who’s in the midst of a close gubernatorial race against the win-at-all-costs, tough-as-nails incumbent (Christine Ebersole). The governor and her staff find a gold mine in Farley’s Mike — as they put it, Roger Clinton, Billy Carter and all the Reagan kids rolled into one. Mike’s antics prove so embarrassing that an ambitious, persnickety aide to the candidate, Steve Dodds (Spade), is assigned to watch him at all times — a pairing virtually identical to the “Tommy Boy” scenario.
As the race tightens, the governor’s henchmen frame Mike with burning down the recreation center where he once worked, eventually leading to a wildly over-the-top finale in which he tries to redeem himself.
Unfortunately, that line about other embarrassing political relatives is about the only funny one to be found in Fred Wolf’s script, leaving director Penelope Spheeris (whose recent credits include “The Beverly Hillbillies”) to rely almost entirely on sheer manic energy and wild stunts — Mike locking his tie in a car trunk, Mike slamming his thumbs in a car trunk, Mike and Steve inhaling laughing gas — to try to generate laughs.
Pic does deliver a few almost irresistibly idiotic moments, such as Mike’s impromptu speech at a “Rock the Vote” rally, or the first three times he slams his head into something.
For the most part, however, “Sheep” simply bleats loudly and comes up flat more frequently than not. The movie is also cloying in its softer moments, when William Ross’ score swells to the crescendo of Hallmark card theme music and Farley — whose range can best be described as limited — laments that his brother might be abandoning him.
Stunts and effects are generally impressive, including a sequence in a shaky cabin seemingly designed to recall Charlie Chaplin’s “The Gold Rush,” though any attempt to compare this to that classic would surpass any level of absurdity that even “Black Sheep” could hope to achieve.