Turn Back the Clock

Tommy Boy

Distributed By: Paramount Pictures

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                The other day, I was flipping through channels and I found a classic comedy starring Chris Farley and David Spade called Tommy Boy.  I love this movie so much that, even though the channel showing the film was cutting out all of the curse words and lude gestures and I was showing up to the movie halfway through, I had to watch it yet again.  I couldn’t help myself and I laughed my head off as if it was the first time watching.

                In Tommy Boy, Chris Farley is Tommy Callahan III, a big goofball who barely graduates college after attending for seven years.  Upon returning to his hometown, his father, Big Tom Callahan, Jr. (Brian Dennehy), gives him an executive job at Callahan Auto, the family’s auto parts plant.  Big Tom also reveals he is to wed Beverly Barrish-Burns (Bo Derek) and that Tommy will have a new stepbrother named Paul (Rob Lowe).  When Big Tom dies of a heart attack at the wedding, the bank reneges on promises for a loan and demands payment of all Callahan Auto’s debts. 

                Tommy finds himself in a huge bind, but is reluctant to sell his family’s company to Ray Zalinsky (Dan Aykroyd), owner of a rival auto parts chain because he knows that the plant in Sandusky, Ohio, will be closed as soon as the sale is final.  Tommy decides to allow the bank to hold his inherited shares and house as a way to stave off the debt owed, but the bank counters with another offer: they want the company to sell 500,000 brake pads to prove the company’s viability.  Failure is not an option – it would mean foreclosure.

                In order to achieve this goal, Tommy volunteers to go on a cross-country trip to sell Callahan Brake Pads with his father’s assistant Richard (David Spade), a childhood acquaintance who views Tommy as a spoiled brat who doesn’t appreciate all his father accomplished.  But somehow, despite the contentious beginning, Tommy and Richard manage to bond over the numerous, calamitous adventures while traveling across country trying to save the company Tommy’s father built and all the jobs depending upon its survival.  Meanwhile, his new stepmother and stepbrother do their best to sabotage Tommy and his friends at every turn, hoping for a sale to Zalinsky that will net them a fortune.

                What makes Tommy Boy so hilarious are the slapstick comedy scenes that are peppered throughout the movie.  Chris Farley was a pro at slapstick and poking fun at himself and I have always felt that Tommy Boy represented some of his best comedic work in a life cut way too short thank to a drug overdose at the age of 33.  Farley’s character is a hyperactive individual with anxiety issues.  He is loud and boisterous as a coping mechanism and this often leads to people looking down on Tommy.  But, in the end, Tommy proves that he really does care about the company and the people who worked for his father to help make him a success.  Tommy’s heart of gold pushes him to do the impossible, coming up with schemes that help propel brake sales and, when sabotage occurs, help Tommy think outside the box in an effort to save his father’s company.

                I loved the interaction between Chris Farley and David Spade in this film.  Their onscreen chemistry is great and I loved the adventures these two characters have while on the road: the not so dead deer that tears up Richard’s fancy convertible, the scene in which Richie and Tommy bond over music, the hood flying up over the windshield as they drive down the highway, hitching a ride on a plane by posing as flight attendants and the hilarity that ensues afterward…especially in the bathroom as Tommy tries to change into a suit, Tommy walking in on Richard admiring a woman by their hotel room pool and the countless times that Tommy walks into things.  David Spade is the perfect straight man to Chris Farley’s goofball antics, but Spade is incredibly funny in his own right here and not just with the sarcastic comebacks.  I have never been a huge Rob Lowe fan, but he is pretty good at the slapstick stuff as well.  I cringe every time I see the crash test dummy scene at Zalinsky’s factory.

                The story is incredible and totally unbelievable, but who cares?  This movie is a ton of fun, with its memorable funny quotes, slapstick comedy and lude moments!  And I haven’t even mentioned the awesome songs heard in the film like Come On Eileen by Dexys Midnight Runners, It's the End of the World As We Know It by REM, Crazy by Patsy Cline, Ain't Too Proud to Beg by Louis Price, Superstar by The Carpenters and more.  And that’s why I keep watching Tommy Boy again and again.  When you need a good laugh, Tommy Boy is that go-to movie that will never let you down, no matter what mood you are in!


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