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Despite Lowbrow Antics, 'Black Sheep' Lags Behind the Flock

In "Black Sheep," "Saturday Night Live" alumnus Chris Farley and David Spade team up as a gubernatorial candidate's slob brother and a campaign aide assigned to keep him in line. (Rated PG-13)


Right off, the movie describes Chris Farley's character as "Roger Clinton, Billy Carter and Ronald Reagan's entire family rolled into one."

Most kids, however, couldn't care less about the real-life antecedents of the story. In fact, most weren't interested in the story at all.

They came for the gags, which in this sort of buddy comedy tend to center on bathroom humor, old women using crude language or being hit in the head with a football and obese people in pain. Just as dumb as "Dumb and Dumber," "Black Sheep" adds a twist of more mature mindlessness with jokes about getting stoned--on pot or nitrous oxide.

Echoing the sentiments of most young viewers, Alex Ramirez, 14, of Santa Ana, said, "It was just funny."

Funniest was the plump Farley who, as bad brother Mike Donnelly, can make boulders roll and houses shake with his mere presence. Next in line were Spade as the serious-but-dense aide, Steve; an uptight and crude female governor; and a crazy survivalist whom Steve nearly runs over, then runs into in the forest, where he has taken Mike to hide out.

After the movie, Alex's 9-year-old brother, Armando, was still laughing at the scene where Mike collides with a refrigerator in the mountain cabin and thinks he has "chocolate pudding in his underpants."

Their cousin Angela Camarena, 13, of Ontario, laughed when Mike gets stoned at a Rock the Vote concert, then grabs a microphone to yell out any phrase he's ever heard anyone make in a speech: "That's one small step for man . . . I have a dream . . . Power to the people . . . Kill whitey."

For Aileen Camacho, 9, of Santa Ana, the funniest part was when Mike falls and is trapped writhing on top of the governor--a scene in which the sexual connotations will be clearer to some viewers than to others. "I laughed so hard, I started cracking up," she said.

Most kids knew what they would be getting from trailers, MTV specials or "Saturday Night Live." Some had seen Farley and Spade in "Tommy Boy."

"I thought that was a little bit funnier," said Eddie Purcell, 14, of Fullerton. "I wasn't cracking up as much as I did in the other movie."

Nearly all said they preferred the talents and humor of Jim Carrey in "Dumb and Dumber." But Farley and Spade are funny enough that if they team up again, Eddie said he'd give them another chance.

At the least, Angela and her cousins said they were happier with "Black Sheep" than the movie they came to see, "Broken Arrow." They were so disappointed, they just walked out and into another theater.

Some parents said they didn't mind the language or the situations.

Still, others could easily wonder if there isn't something else that children might find funny.

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