review for Almost Heroes on AllMovie

Almost Heroes (1998)
by Karl Williams review

It's hard to believe this comes from such an intellectually challenging director as Christopher Guest; this comedy squanders an interesting, little-used concept (historical spoof) with a taste for over-the-top pratfall and bodily function-laced humor. The film's closest cousin is probably Blazing Saddles (1974) but unlike that perennial favorite, Almost Heroes is free of the clever puns, sly racial satire, and self-aware irony inherent in the best work of Mel Brooks. Maybe it's that, while Saddles spoofed the conventions of an entire genre as well as the wider attitudes and beliefs of an era in American history, Guest's film is just a fragile work upon which is constructed a series of skit-like gags. After the second or third time that lead Chris Farley takes a spill (the late actor used to call this tiring bit, with no small amount of frustration, "fatty falls down"), Almost Heroes has clearly run out of any steam it might have gotten from its attention-grabbing premise.