Going in to this book, I assumed a lot of things about Chris Farley. After reading it I realized that many of those assumptions were wrong. Anyone familiar with the work of Chris Farley is aware of the physical presence that he commanded. His physical sized belied his agility and athleticism.
This book does a great job of eliciting deep empathy and sympathy for Chris. Going in, I was fully expecting the element of tragedy associated with any young star who dies before realizing his or her full potential. While that element certainly exists, this book shows the vulnerable, human side of a larger-than-life on-screen personality.
Ultimately, Chris died because he partied too hard one time too many. That type of behavior is associated with the excess of show biz, which was true for Chris. But arrogance or indulgence did not drive his excess, which was my assumption before reading this book. It seems that despite his fame and his ability to always make people laugh, Chris' life of the party, center of attention antics were likely motivated by a deep sense of isolation and loneliness.
This book does a good job of weaving in interviews from his show biz colleagues as well as individuals from his personal life, including his family. (Chris' brother Tom Farley is one of the co-authors.) The glimpses into the Farley family, while brief, nicely round out the full picture of Chris.
While the ending of this book is a known entity from the start, the story of how that outcome came about is a compelling read. It highlights how even someone so much in the public eye can go tragically adrift and become lost.
This book made me have an even greater appreciation for the movie Tommy Boy. It brought me back to many of the absolute comedy classic moments that Chris Farley created. It also made relearn the lesson that you should never rush to judgment.
by Cameron Hatch
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