Tommy Boy Review
Tommy Boy brings ex-Saturday Night Live comedy duo Chris Farley and David Spade together for easily their best outing on film. While Farley unfortunately passed away some years ago after a drugs binge, and Spade continues to struggle as his hay day has long since passed, the film stands as a landmark in both their careers as neither have really surpassed it for quality ever since.
Title character ‘Tommy’ played by Farley, is the only son of his rich father Thomas Callahan played by Brian Dennehy. When returning home from college, Tommy is told by his Dad, that he has a new woman in his life who we find out is the young and beautiful Beverly (Bo Derek). They quickly marry, but not all turns out too well on the wedding day when Thomas has a heart attack and dies. Beverly acquires equal share of the business, and we soon learn this was her only motivation for marrying Tommy’s father in the first place. However Tommy stands in her way of selling the family run business and leaving with all the profits, so with his father’s long-term business associate Richard (David Spade), they go on the road in an attempt to save the company.
Essentially, the film is a road movie with Farley and Spade putting themselves in any situation they can think of, and playing off each other. Where problems could have potentially risen with scenes feeling too much like they are cobbled together sketches, Bonnie and Terry Turner’s script keeps the story flowing and has an emotional depth rooted in the two leads that never allows for this. Farley and Spade look very relaxed on screen and while the written comedy lines are funny, their interplay, timing and chemistry places the level of entertainment on a higher plain. The geeky intelligence and guile of Richard, perfectly opposes Tommy’s loud-mouth stupidity with great effect, and you can tell they know it because they continue to use these traits against each other. Farley has a terrific eye for physical comedy and here, whether he’s breaking car doors or inadvertently smashing through hedges that have brick walls behind them, he excels. Spade uses his ability to deliver killer irony and put downs with perfect timing, and the combination of their better attributes makes them a superb comedy double act.
As you’d expect, the film works best when the two leads are going at each other’s throats, so it’s not surprising the pace lags a little when some of the supporting players are going through the motions. Julie Warner as Michelle is a poor love interest, with very little believability in the relationship between Tommy and herself. Her performance is a little bland, and while the odd scenes they have together are sweet with one hilarious stand out, it does feel a little forced with no other need but to give the film an overtly happy conclusion. Bo Derek is also poor, leaving her evil stepmother without an emotional core, and not bringing anything resembling the idea that she could or even would go to the lengths she does to make money. However, this comedy hardly loses too many brownie points for the odd bad performance and some badly written roles. Rob Lowe as Beverly’s supposed son, is a perfect baddie, making sure things are still interesting when Farley and Spade aren’t on screen. Dan Aykroyd, appearing in a short cameo, is also excellent, making a small role funnier with just a contortion of his eyebrow!
This superb comedy is the perfect Friday night chill-out film, brimming with quotable lines and mad physical comedy, and it can without a doubt, be watched over and over again.
The picture on the disc is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and is anamorphically enhanced. On the whole the picture is very good with a distinct clarity, but at times I did notice a little edge enhancement. The original photography on the film is fairly bland yet the colours are natural and well balanced. Night scenes are also well presented on the disc with characters and other items on the screen clear and crisp. The print used appears to be clear of any major worries with only the odd bit of dirt, and a little grain noticeable in places.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is surprisingly good with excellent use of the surround speakers. Although most of the rear speaker’s work comes in the form of ambient sounds and music, they are constantly in use giving that enveloped feeling. Dialogue is clear, with no noticeable hiss or crackling in the background.
The only added extra on the disc is a theatrical trailer which is presented in a non-anamorphic 4:3 full frame aspect ratio.
This true feel-gooder represents the pinnacle of one of comedies true ‘greats’ Chris Farley, and while it may not contain any real added material the film alone is worthy of the purchase, and that’s how it should be.