There have been many movies featuring Saturday Night Live cast-members like Coneheads (Dan Aykroyd), The Ladies Man (Tim Meadows) and Wayne’s World (Mike Myers and Dana Carvey). Tommy Boy features two cast-members – Chris Farley and David Spade – in a surprisingly not-really-funny, but amusing movie.
Farley plays Tommy, a recent seven-year college graduate, who returns home to help his dad (Brian Dennehy) run the family auto business. His dad marries Beverly (Bo Derek), but during the wedding reception he dies. Tommy is left to keep the business afloat from a hostile takeover by a rival company and from the bank. In order to save the company, Tommy embarks on a trip with Richard Hayden (David Spade) across country to sell the brake pads that Tommy’s dad proclaimed as the company’s future.
What struck me most about the film was the incredibly close relationship that Tommy has with his dad. Tommy is a sort of screw-up and doesn’t take most things seriously, but his dad sees through that. Underneath Tommy is an earnest and good-natured guy who cares for his family (even his rotten step-brother) and friends (pretty much his entire hometown). He gets it from his dad whose family business is strong because his relationships with his partners and workers are so strong.
Tommy Boy can be treated as a part-comedy/part-road movie hybrid. One road movie element is the glorification of the method of travel – usually an automobile. Richard loves his GTX and maintains it well. But throughout the film, Tommy manages to harm Richard’s beloved auto and by the end of the film it’s in such a shambles that it resembles a go-cart more than a car. There’s one scene where Richard and Tommy are driving and the car’s hood randomly opens up, blinding (who’s driving). The car zig zags through traffic and avoids cars and trucks before finally coming to a stop on the shoulder.
Seeing Tommy Boy for the first time in many years has gotten me to notice how unwell the film has aged. Some of Farley’s physical comedy didn’t get me motivated and pumped up as I remember being in the past. Could it be that my cynical views of today’s SNL and how “bad” it is compared to Farley’s SNL or Chevy Chase’s SNL? Perhaps. Maybe comedy itself has changed to the point where gross-out (Road Trip) or adult (Sideways) comedies are the only movies that can make me laugh. Tommy Boy fits somewhere in-between; although it’s a well-made film, TB just couldn’t put more than a smile on my face (except for that one scene where a part of Richard almost flies off when he gets a little too close to a car engine).
There is a full-length commentary by the film’s director Peter Segal (Anger Management, 50 First Dates, The Longest Yard) and until Steven Spielberg records an audio commentary for Jaws, I won’t listen to a single commentary, but kudos to Segal for participating in not only a commentary, but for the many bonus material as well.
There are four featurettes included: “Tommy Boy: Behind The Laughter,” a 30 minute documentary on the making of the film with interviews from the Segal, Spade, the executive producer Robert K. Weiss and producer Lorne Michaels; “Stories From The Side Of The Road,” an 11 minute compilation of the evolution of a few scenes like “We’re Burning Alive” (Farley trying to sell brake pads by playing with the toy cars on the executive’s desk), “Udder Madness” (Farley taking Rob Lowe to go cowtipping) and “Fleshdance” (Farley’s rendition of the song “Maniac” from the film Flashdance); “Just The Two Of Us,” a nine minute featurette on the special relationship and chemistry between Farley and Spade (funniest thing is how everyone describes the fights that the two would have over Lowe); and “Growing Up Farley,” a special interview with Farley’s brothers John and Kevin with them talking about growing up with Chris.
There are six deleted, 15 extended and six alternate scenes, which are mostly ordinary and unfunny – although the extended scene of Tommy convincing Helen to make him some chicken wings is cool to see. There is a pretty funny gag reel included as well. There are also 19 TV spots, a photo gallery and a theatrical trailer.