Tommy Boy Movie Review

Given time and some top-rate producing talent, David Spade and Chris Farley might have evolved into a Martin and Lewis for the 21st century, but we'll never know. They only had two outings together, Tommy Boy and Black Sheep, before the red-faced Farley overindulged himself to death in 1997. Of the two films, Tommy Boy is better (and has since become an inexplicable cult hit), but neither one is much good, and for that, aim the blame at Lorne Michaels, who has a very spotty track record of creating decent features for his Saturday Night Live stars. For every Wayne's World, there are three Coneheads.

Tommy "Boy" Callahan (Farley) has just graduated from college after seven years, much to the delight of his beloved father Big Tom (Brian Dennehy), buy no sooner does the widowed Big Tom marry his second wife (Bo Derek) than he drops dead of a heart attack. Now Tommy Boy has to rescue the family's brake shoe business before it's devoured by arch-rival Ray Zalinksy (Dan Aykroyd) while he also keeps an eye on the evil Beverly's schemes and her equally evil son Paul's (Rob Lowe) sabotage.

What to do, what to do? How about a road trip to get out to the sticks, meet the customers, and convince them that Callahan's brake shoes are the best? Since Tommy Boy is self-aware enough to know he's basically an idiot, he brings along the priggish company accountant Richard (David Spade), and away they go.

Richard hates Tommy Boy and cuts him down at every opportunity, but just as in every other buddy picture, road picture, and save-the-failing-company picture you've ever seen, the two must eventually join forces, earn each other's respect, and ultimately find success.

The road trip section of the movie is supposed to be the really funny part, with lots of broad physical comedy and a car that falls to pieces along the way. One truly twisted moment: the boys sing along to that sappy Spanish love song "Eres Tu" and find themselves sobbing like little girls. That's pretty funny.

But that's about it. Farley hurls himself around so much that you find yourself wondering if he may actually have a heart attack on screen. (It's even worse, and almost pathetic, in Black Sheep.) Meanwhile, Spade smirks and makes his cutting remarks, trademarking the unpleasantly bitchy attitude he uses to this day in his various TV commercials and sitcom outings.

Tommy Boy unspools just as you expect it to, and the comedy is as unrewarding as the story. All you're left with is the memory of Farley trapped inside his enormous sweaty body and Spade trapped inside his repellent persona. It's a shame they didn't get more chances to fine-tune their comedic partnership.


Comments

Tommy Boy Rating

" Grim "

Rating: PG-13, 1995

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