Beverly Hills Ninja - 1/2*

Beverly Hills Ninja is a surprisingly boring comedy. Chris Farley stars as Haru, an orphan who is discovered by a secret ninja clan after washing up as a babe on the coast of Japan. The clan adopts Haru and trains him as one of their own, thinking he is the fabled “Great White Ninja”. Unfortunately, he grows up into the bumbling fool that Chris Farley has made his specialty. When a mysterious woman from Beverly Hills (Nicollette Sheridan) requires the assistance of a ninja to uncover an international counterfeiting scam. Haru volunteers, and begins a quest which takes him to America, and which will test all his non-existant arts. To protect him, and others, Haru’s sensei (without Haru’s knowledge), sends a proper ninja, Gobei (Robin Shou), along to assist Haru from the shadows. The plot itself is very thin, and doesn’t do much to bolster this essentially one-joke movie. The acting, as can be expected, isn’t terribly subtle…but it doesn’t need to be. Slapstick comedies, when done well, can be carried by their jokes alone. Beverly Hills Ninja does not lack laughs (there are a couple of very funny scenes in the airport and a strip club), but they are few and far between. The film takes its stock jokes (Farley is fat, he’s a klutz, he thinks he’s a ninja) and milks them for much, much more than they’re worth. Chris Farley can do some humorous stuff (see his better skits on Saturday Night Live), but has yet to find a movie that effectively showcases his talents. Beverly Hills Ninja will please Farley’s legions of teenage fans who don’t know better… but few else will enjoy this monotonous comedy.

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