Matthew Perry stars as Leslie Edwards, an explorer whose goal is to beat Lewis and Clark to the Pacific Ocean. To achieve this goal, he hires the second best tracker in early America, Bartholomew Hunt (Chris Farley), a drunken buffoon who has blundered his way into his reputation.
And that's about all there is which passes for plot in this film. Their party contains some purportedly colorful characters such as jealous Frenchman Guy Fontenot (Eugene Levy), and encounters some purportedly colorful characters, such as the vain Spaniard Hidalgo (Kevin Dunn), but someone, somewhere forgot the humor.
There are only two sequences in the entire film which are barely chuckle-worthy (Farley's eagle trials, and the group of elderly warriors). But they in no way can justify anyone in their right mind suffering through the rest of this atrocious film.
Die-hard fans of Farley will undoubtedly visit this travesty even though they would be better served by reviewing his best work: his skits on SNL. Farley was never able to locate a worthy movie for his talents. (Tommy Boy was the closest, but a messy and cluttered attempt that was more miss than hit.) Perhaps the problem was his reliance on the "fat-guy-falls-down" brand of humor that worked well in sketch comedy, but seemed labored when stretched out to fill a full movie. He never was able to either transcend the juvenile level of humor, or to make a movie filled with juvenile humor actually entertaining.
But, if Farley did a bad job here, at least he had company. Matthew Perry does a horrifically bad job. He actually manages to outshine Farley in the overacting category - an impressive feat, mind you, but not one conducive to a pleasant viewing experience. The rest of the cast are for the most part forgettable (a fact which I'm sure many of them will appreciate).
Director Christopher Guest takes a major wrong turn after his appealing Waiting for Guffman. Almost Heroes wallows in stupidity...not stupid-funny...just plain stupid. I got the feeling that some of the material might have played better had the movie allowed itself to stray from the rigidity of its plot. For example, the subplot involving an injury prone explorer could have actually been humorous if the movie allowed its tone to resemble that of say, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, or even South Park. But, no, the movie never strays far from reality, and as a result, the humor stays grounded.
Why were Edwards and Hunt left out of the history books? Anyone who sees this movie will have a good idea: it's definitely not something you want to remember.
[PG-13 - crude humor and nudity] (WB)