The United States is built on free enterprise and so many of the successful businesses we have today began as small family-owned businesses that are, year after year, slowly being merged into national corporations. For Big Tom Callahan (Brian Dennehy) that isn’t a huge concern, his company has flowered and stayed in the family even while becoming a big name nation-wide in auto parts.
All that comes to a screeching halt when Big Tom dies suddenly. After his demise the company passes to his family…who may not have the company’s best interest in mind. On the one side of the spectrum is Tommy (Chris Farley), Big Tom’s son just returned from college (after seven years…and no, it wasn’t for a big degree), is determined to pick up where his father left off and keep the company in the family. On the other side…there are some family members who are only interested in selling out the company name to one Ray Zalinsky (Dan Aykroyd) so they can cash in on their stocks.
Tommy is all gung-ho to save the company and elicits the help of his father’s straight-laced right-hand man Richard (David Spade) to help him as they go on the road to sell a new brake pad design to all their big customers. Unfortunately Tommy’s over-exuberant and bumbling style scares more people than it impresses and with one mishap after another it’s starting to look like they won’t be able to hit the numbers they need…if they survive the trip.
I’ve seen so many comedies it’s not even funny and, for the most part, am extremely tired of them and if given the choice would choose anything other than a slapstick comedy. Surprisingly, Tommy Boy is a little different.
So many recent slapsticks seem to rely on stupid gimmicks and fart jokes to try to get some cheap laughs and rake in a few extra bucks before said film sinks into obscurity…yes, this movie has those as well but it has an actual story to back it up…a story that moves along well so that even if a person is annoyed at the cheap comedic elements thrown in there’s still an actual story to follow and wonder about the outcome.
My first impression of Chris Farley was that he was way over the top and I wasn’t at all impressed with him…but now after seeing several of the movies he’s in I’ve come to understand that he’s always way over the top and somehow manages to make it fit in with whatever character he’s playing and once one adjusts to his energy he’s actually a lot of fun to watch. For his character in Tommy Boy he’s…pretty much just like all his other roles (kind of like the Jennifer Aniston of comedy…ever notice she always plays the same sort of roles?), but by now he’s perfected that performance and it fit in pretty well in this movie.
Surprisingly David Spade was a little more understated than I’m used to seeing him, but then again Joe Dirt was the first film I ever saw with him in it. As the officious brown-noser Spade gives a perfect performance and plays very well opposite Chris Farley.
Overall this is a pretty entertaining movie and even as exhausted as I am with the endless parade of brainless comedies I actually laughed several times throughout the movie and the story kept me engaged throughout and wondering up until the end how it was going to turn out – I knew it would probably be a happy ending because what good is there having a movie meant to make people laugh and then have an unhappy ending? – but I didn’t have very many guesses on just HOW it was going to turn out happy. All-in-all this is definitely worthwhile for some light-hearted viewing on a lazy evening or for social get-togethers.