Paramount // 1995 // 97 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Ryan Keefer (Retired) // October 17th, 2005
"Did you hear that I finally graduated?"
"Yeah, and just a shade under a decade too, all right."
"You know a lot of people go to college for seven years."
"I know, they're called doctors."
There was no surprise that Lorne Michaels was in the midst of making stars out of his Saturday Night Live performances. He had a couple of hits in both Wayne's World films that starred Mike Myers, and Coneheads was a miss, largely because it was at least a decade too late. And to produce a film with the fat guy who played Matt Foley, inspirational speaker, and the short skinny guy who did the funny "Hollywood Minute" reports, it was a bit of a crapshoot to say the least. Is Tommy Boy worthy of a video re-release?
Tommy Callahan III (Chris Farley, Black Sheep) is the classic rich boy underachiever. He's been going through life as the dimmer bulb in the lamp. However, he's got the luxury of having a successful businessman in his father (Brian Dennehy, Presumed Innocent), who owns and operates a long-standing auto parts company in the sleepy town of Sandusky, Ohio. He finally graduates after seven long years and comes home and finds out that his father is about to get married to Beverly (Bo Derek, 10), and Sandusky's businesses are closing due to a sluggish economy. After his father unexpectedly dies at his wedding, Tommy is forced to go on his father's sales run in order to save the business from being sold to a rival competitor named Ray Zalinsky (Dan Aykroyd, The Blues Brothers). His childhood acquaintance Richard (David Spade, Joe Dirt) goes on the road with him to help him accomplish this, despite the attempts of sabotage by Beverly and her son Paul (Rob Lowe, The West Wing).
So what is it about Tommy Boy that has stayed in fans' memories for so long? Well, aside from being the usual buddy film, it displays a tender side that comes out in Farley's performance. Granted, there are more than a couple of "fatty fall down" jokes that get cheap laughs, but of the films that star SNL actors, Tommy Boy may be the one that shows the most personality. There's a heart that Farley shows off in this film that wasn't in his other films like Beverly Hills Ninja. All of the actors in the film do well with the film without overdoing it too much. You can see the Midwestern generosity and good nature in almost everything Farley does in the film. The dynamic between Farley and Spade is great, with Spade's caustic remarks playing to a willing target. Even in moments of remote sincerity, they almost pull it off, which for a comedy is refreshing to see.
Unfortunately, Farley's excesses were his own worst enemy, and the reasons that his other films may have been disappointments were because of it. Several people have said that Farley was clean for the film, and wanted to do a great job in the movie, which was accomplished. And it's a shame that the same type of philosophy wasn't employed for other films, because his death resulted in a tragic loss of what was a burgeoning comic talent.
Paramount has decided to help mark the film's anniversary with a two-disc special edition DVD, starting with a commentary on the film by Director Peter Segal (The Longest Yard). In it, he discusses a wide variety of things, notably that Farley was clean during the production. If anything, he was amped up on cappuccino most of the time. He talks about working with Farley and has a lot of stories from the set, but the problem is that most of them aren't too funny. Next are four featurettes that total about an hour of combined time. "Tommy Boy: Behind the Laughter" covers the production of the film, and Spade, Dennehy, Derek and the crew remember their own stories from the film and of Farley. The piece has a lot of B reel and blooper footage, and is fairly enjoyable. "Stories from the Side of the Road" discusses many of the jokes that were incorporated into the film, but if you've listened to Segal's commentary, most of what is covered here is covered in the commentary. "Just the Two of Us" covers the Farley-Spade relationship, and while Aykroyd breaks it down rather seriously, Saturday Night Live writer Fred Wolf had this comment, saying the pair are the "closest we've gotten in the last 50 years to Laurel and Hardy." Start debate...now! "Growing up Farley" covers recollections by the older Farley brothers, along with Michaels' comment that, "if Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi had a child, it would probably be Chris." A storyboard to film comparison with 7 scenes covering 15 minutes is next. The additional scenes, that are either alternate or extended takes, or flat out deleted scenes run for over 30 minutes, and there are 26 of them. A four minute gag reel of fairly vanilla giggles is next, followed by a stills gallery, the trailer and some TV spots. Paramount should be given points for thoroughness; all 19 TV spots are on the DVD, providing for a handy look at Hollywood marketing.
>From a video standpoint, Paramount's gesture of giving some novelty name to a Special Edition DVD is a little annoying. From a film standpoint, sometimes Farley and Spade spread the sugary emotion a little bit heavy. But when we're talking about buddy films that are set on the road, we're not talking about Melvin and Howard here, and it's a pleasant mix of slapstick with some semi-poignant moments thrown in.
Segal mentioned in his commentary that the movie is a little bit like comfort food. It makes you feel good to watch, regardless of what critical merits it possesses. When it airs on TV, it stays on the screen. The extras complement the film without being overkill, and it's a pleasant addition to any fan's library.
The court finds for the filmmakers and the case is dismissed. Unfortunately, one of the defendants was not available for trial, and the world is lesser for it.
Review content copyright © 2005 Ryan Keefer; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 1995
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Director's Commentary
* Deleted Scenes
* Alternate Takes
* Storyboard Comparison
* Extended Scenes
* Gag Reel
* Photo Gallery
* Trailer and TV Spots