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Almost Heroes (DVD)
Matthew Perry and Chris Farley star in the true history of the race to express the United States' Manifest Destiny to reach from sea to shining sea, which can finally he told. To the pantheon of American heroes, the two real conquerors of the American frontier can at last be added: Edwards and Hunt. This is their tale of two men who are Almost Heroes. In the late 18th century, veteran tracker and habitual drunkard Bartholomew Hunt (Farley) and foppish blowhard Leslie Edwards (Perry) lead a bickering, brawling, bumbling crew of misfits and lowlifes across the unexplored territory from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. As they trek westward, Edwards and Hunt and company head down roaring rapids and over the Rockies on their way to historical oblivion.]]>
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The young Perry is surprisingly good at double takes and grandiose buffoonery, the movie's glue. He's a dandy initially WAY out of his depth, a visionary with a Johnny Depp-as-Edward D. Wood Jr.-like zeal, appeal. Perry and Farley made a good team, plenty of chemistry there. As others have said, the supporting players (many of my favorites) were uniformly excellent. I really LIKED the people in this movie, especially Perry, thought they were what was best about it. The only minor grumble I have is that a particular fave of mine, Eugene Levy, could scarcely shine in a small role as a creepy bad guy.
I liked the grand, sweeping How the West Was Won-style opening, with maps of the territory, Harry Shearer's deadpan voiceover narration, and stirring music- in fact, the music throughout was just splendid (a Guest hallmark), adding to the movie's tongue-in-cheek "authenticity" (there's a fine line between historical fact and sheer balderdash). It may be slight, plot & gag-wise, but it's good-natured, good-hearted, with lots of visual appeal, great music, and winsome, loony characters who obviously enjoyed what they were doing. I enjoyed it too.
And BTW, another good-natured send up (in this case, of government conspiracies, religion, and fairy tales), and a better film, actually, hilarious in spots, is Trollhunter- it's wildy inventive, inspired, I loved it. Ditto with Galaxy Quest, a loving parody of Star Trek type TV shows.
I, personally, do not think "Almost Heroes" is a great movie, but it does incorporate a lot of good light-hearted humor and many quotable lines. This movie's downfall comes from a collection of sources; the screenplay can be a little boring and the chemistry among the cast just doesn't quite "click." It is not one I watch often; when I'm in a Farley mood I usually go for "Tommy Boy." However, if you are a Chris Farley fan, I would recommend buying this DVD for nostalgic purposes and a few good laughs. Below I have included a short summary of the plot in hopes that it might help anyone `on the fence' about whether to purchase the movie or maybe just rent. Good luck!
SUMMARY: This movie is a historical parody of the western exploration of the United States and territories undertaken by Lewis & Clark in the early 1800s. In the "Almost Heroes" comedic rendition, Leslie Edwards is a respected and wealthy society-man who sets off to map the "unknown" United States beginning at the Missouri River and ending at the Pacific, racing against the more famous team lead by Lewis and Clark. Bartholomew Hunt, Edwards's foil character, is a fumbling miscreant employed among Edwards' party as a tracker. Along the journey, the wide separation between Hunt and Edwards narrows as Edwards finally loosens up, finding love where he thought he was looking for glory.
The fellowship appears to be doomed from the start when the audience is introduced to Edwards' bottom-of-the-barrel frontiersmen. Hopes for Edwards' expedition rise meagerly when the crew is joined by Shaquinna who presumably represents Lewis and Clark's Sacagawea. Shaquinna, a young Native American, is instrumental in the party's mostly safe journey through the west; the "mostly" part imposed by the crew's antics and mishaps. Ironically, Edwards' party beats Lewis and Clark's to the Pacific, yet in the interest of being "Almost Heroes," the men decide they'd rather carry on exploring than presume they've found it all.