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Film / Black Sheep (1996)

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"Hello Washington!"

A 1996 comedy film directed by Penelope Spheeris, starring Chris Farley and David Spade following the release of Tommy Boy nearly a year earlier.

Mike Donnelly (Farley) is the bumbling younger brother to Al Donnelly (Tim Matheson), an up-and-coming political figure in the state of Washington trying to defeat two-time-incumbent Evelyn Tracy (Christine Ebersole) and become Governor. Problem for Al is, try as Mike may to be a good little brother and offer his services to Al's campaign drive, his good intentions always end up going horribly wrong and they become P.R. nightmares for Al and his main advisor, Roger Kovary (Timothy Carhart). To attempt to contain Mike, Al and Roger assign campaign worker Steve Dodds (Spade) to shadow Mike and keep the unfortunate consequences of his actions at bay—resulting in staying in a cabin in the woods where among the different things that go wrong, they come across a high-strung Sergeant named Rusty Sabitch (Gary Busey).

Not to be confused with Black Sheep. Mike doesn't reject his role in his family; he instead embraces his role, to the point where even Al, if only for a brief moment, does consider cutting him off. Also not to be confused with the New Zealand horror comedy about killer sheep.

This film provides examples of:

  • Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable: Mike and Steve's nitrous oxide trip on their way to the post-election ceremony causes them to be unable to pronounce "roads." (RO-ads......rOOds...)
  • The Alleged Car: Mike's 1969 Pontiac Bonneville convertible. It's a rusty, half-disassembled junker that is later fitted with body panels that are a different colour from the rest of the car and while it does function for most of the film, the starter slowly stops working entirely when they're in a hurry to expose Tracey's voter fraud.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Steve's first impression of Drake Sabitch (played by Gary Busey) upon arriving inside Drake's schoolbus-converted-to-living-quarters. "This guy is like Leatherface, Chucky and Jan Brady all rolled into one." Which could be a CallBack to what was said about Mike.
  • Artistic License Biology: The Bring My Brown Pants gag mentioned below could really only work if Mike's body temperature is normally around 36°F, but he seems genuinely surprised to be informed that he crapped himself and apparently wasn't using a euphemism.
  • As Themselves: Grunge band Mudhoney performs at the Rock the Vote concert and then force Mike to go onstage after them confusing him for Al Donnelly.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Mike is able to quickly deduce that the election numbers don't add up and using quick arithmetic, he confirms that more people "voted" than are registered in one of the counties where Mike was campaigning.
  • Ax-Crazy: Drake Sabitch. Not only does he live in a schoolbus surrounded by landmines in the middle of the woods, he suddenly charges on stage at Governor Tracy's victory speech wielding a bazooka.
  • Bad Boss: Governor Tracy spends much of her screentime verbally berating her aide Neuschwander and other members of her staff. When Mike exposes that she's committed voter fraud, Tracy turns to Neuschwander to offer up an explanation, he gleefully confirms that she put her staffers up to it.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: When they get pulled over by a motorcycle cop for driving 7 miles per hour, Mike forces Steve into the backseat so he (Mike) can pretend to be a real cop transporting a prisoner, saying that Steve butchered 400 chickens, then had sex with a beagle and is being transported back to Nevada for banging horses. The officer gives Dodds a disgusted look and tells Mike to get him out of the state faster.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Implied with Mike after the house fell from the boulder when Steve unplugs the fridge and pins Mike against the wall.
    Mike: "I'm just dandy! I've got a bowl of chocolate pudding in my underpants!"
    Steve: "We didn't have any pudding in there, buddy."
    • Steve gets one of these too during his second encounter with Drake, though in his defense, he was halfway through a whizz. Drake points a machine gun right in Dodds' face which causes him to wet his pants.
  • Butt-Monkey: Mike, poor guy. He humiliates his brother, keeps hurting himself and keeps failing when he desperately wants to succeed.
    • Steve takes quite a bit of abuse throughout the film as well.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Drake Sabitch is a quite literal example.
  • Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Cloudcuckoolander might be too strong of a word for Mike but this is Steve's job for the campaign, and he actually volunteers for it.
  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character: Well, spiritual sequel, but Chris Farley's Mike Donnelly is relatively different from his prior character Tommy Boy. Both are bumbling goofs in their families, but Mike is a bit more competent and quick-witted compared to the exclusively street-smarts Tommy; deducing that Tracy committed voter fraud and realizing he's stoned with leaking nitro much sooner than Steve. Mike appears to understand gravely serious problems moreso than Tommy, who has his moments of intellect but overall gradually learns how to shape his future as Callahan heir. Also, Mike is shown driving more frequently than Tommy, hinting at more automotive experience.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Drake Sabitch's grandfather died in World War I when a zeppelin crash-landed on top of him, "smashing his head clean out of his ass" as Sabitch himself puts it.
  • Cool Car: Officer Robbie's souped-up hot-rotted '87 Chevrolet Caprice police car. Souped-up 426 hemi engine, three-quarter cams, hood scoop, jacked-up rear end with fat drag tires and nitrous oxide boosters in the trunk and a top speed of 155 miles per hour (249 kilometres per hour for our metric users). While it's eligibility as a current service vehicle could be debated, there's no denying that it's one of the coolest police cars ever to grace the silver screen.
  • Covered in Gunge: Steve, after a chance meeting with some young, local riffraff ends in him being sprayed point blank with a fire extinguisher.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: While Mike doesn't exactly defeat Sabitch, he does tackle Sabitch while the latter is holding Steve at gunpoint. Sabitch is so thoroughly impressed that he practically becomes Mike's friend on the spot.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: At the end of the scene at the Governor's Mansion, where Mike has fallen on top of former Governor Tracy and cannot get up because the podium is on top of his legs. His jerky motions to free himself look know.
  • Friend on the Force: The local cop is good friends with Mike and covers for him to get away from the scene of the fire due to believing in his claims he's being set up.
  • Game Night Fight: Downplayed; while Mike and Steve don't get into any heated arguments while they play checkers in the cabin, Mike does get pissed off after Steve beats him three times.
    Mike: Well, it's kinda easy to win when you, um... NEVER MOVE YOUR BACK ROW!!! EVER!!!
  • Hate Sink: Kovary, Al's advisor. He continuously insults and belittles Mike due to his klutzy behavior, and at one point outright lies about Al calling Mike "the idiot" to keep him distanced from his brother. His sliminess is most prominent in the ending, when he outright says Al's career is more important than family, and that Al has to choose between "[him] and that loser brother of yours". The last you see of Kovary is him being booted off Al's limo.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Mike Donnelley is suspected to have started a fire, and at one point parties with the underage but, nonetheless, saves the day.
  • The Klutz: Mike, big time. It's his most unfortunately pronounced trait and this is made clear from his first scene.
  • The Load/The Millstone: Mike to his brother, oh so much.
  • Meaningful Name: Drake Sabitch. (As in, Son of a....)
    • Or alternatively, "Drake's a bitch".
  • Military Brat: Drake Sabitch. And his entire bloodline, as well.
  • Mistaken for Masturbating: After bumping into an old lady who rudely tells him to get out of her way, Steve pretends to root around in his pocket, saying he has something for her, intending to do the "I got something for you, it's my middle finger" bit he did with Drake before saying "Never mind, forget it", though the woman assumes he was "playing pocket pool" and notes he has a chubby before walking away and telling him "Dream on, you little fart!"
  • Mistaken for Special Guest: A stoned Mike gets mistaken for his brother Al and gives a disjointed speech that ends with him screaming "KILL WHITEY!", much to Al's horror.
  • No Indoor Voice: Farley is arguably this trope in human form.
    Steve: "This is great, I've never won three games in a row before."
    Mike: "Yeah, well uh, it's easy to win when you, uh.... NEVER MOVE YOUR BACK ROW!! EVER!! God!"
  • No Party Given: Neither challenger Donnelly nor incumbent Tracy's political affiliation are mentioned, nor do they discuss any policies or positions that would hint at them.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Mike sees a group of teenagers with beer in a parking lot and tries to give them a heart-to-heart talk in his characteristically buffoonish way. A paparazzi manages to take a picture of him in middle of the act, making it look like Mike is partying with minors when the picture ends up on the front page of the newspaper.
    • Later on, two of Governor Tracy's staff members set fire to the recreation center Mike was just fired from in order to frame him and discredit his brother. A sleazy reporter takes a picture of Mike running out of the building, making it look like he set the fire, and then blackmails Tracy into paying him to release that picture instead of the one that shows her guys actually setting the building ablaze.
  • Oh, Crap!: When it dawns on Mike that something in the car has gone horribly wrong: the nitrous oxide has started leaking and...
    Mike: I'm are you!
  • Opportunistic Bastard: The reporter who blackmails Tracy, revealing that he can knows he can release photos showing what happened to either side (depending on who is more desperate) and get paid for it while still having a name-making story.
  • Precision F-Strike: Governor Tracy to her aide Neuschwander, who is stirring his drink somewhat obsessively.
    Gov. Tracy: "Neuschwander, are you finished stirring that drink, or is this some kind of fucking science experiment?!"
  • Shout-Out: "I can get her up to as good as 155. Never do though, of course, unless I'm chasing a cute chick in a Ferrari".note 
  • Slapstick: A lot of the film follows Jack injuring himself or accidentally causing destruction with his clumsiness.
  • Someday This Will Come in Handy: Mike's seemingly un-important declaration that there are 1,502 registered voters in Garfield County. It seems like a throwaway line, but becomes an integral part of the plot later on when it leads him and Steve to realize that Governor Tracy and her team might be rigging the election by inflating vote tallies.
  • Stoners Are Funny: Mike hangs out with some stoners at a "Rock the Vote" rally, getting very high before being mistaken for his brother.
  • Tangled Family Tree: A smaller family example that most, but when listing Sabitch's dead ancestors, Norris and Nelson, it's mentioned that one died in WWII and another in Korea. This short of a gap between deaths presumably means that they were in the same generation (probably his father and uncle) but it isn't elaborated on.
  • Tempting Fate: "Thanks for not shoving the nozzle up my ass first."
  • That Came Out Wrong: "We've all been screwed by Governor Tracy! And now, I'm gonna screw her!"
  • Thicker Than Water: Essentially Al's reaction to Roger, even without dialogue to confirm it, after Roger's annoyance with Mike finally bubbles over and forces Al to choose between his brother or his career.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Nothing is said of "Cash" nor the arson duo who are all in cahoots with Tracy by the end of the film, but considering Tracy's crimes of voter fraud and attempts to tarnish Al's campaign would be enough to throw her out of office, they were all highly likely to have been arrested for their roles as accomplices. Plus, committing arson and framing someone for it really doesn't equal a short prison term.