Tommy Boy (1995)

by | Apr 29, 2024 | 1990s, Comedy, Film Reviews | 0 comments

Release date: 31 March 1995 (USA)
Genre: Comedy
Director: Peter Segal
Cinematographer: Victor J. Kemper
Budget: $20 million USD
Box office: $32.7 million USD


“I can get a good look at a T-bone by sticking my head up a bull’s ass, but I’d rather take a butcher’s word for it.” – Tommy Callahan Jr. (played by Chris Farley)


5 MIN Read Time


Tommy Boy: A Hilarious Ride with Heart

Peter Segal’s 1995 comedy, “Tommy Boy,” isn’t reinventing the wheel. The plot is familiar: a goofy man-child forced to grow up and save the family business. We’ve seen variations on this theme countless times before. But what makes “Tommy Boy” a classic is its execution. It’s a laugh-out-loud funny film with surprising emotional depth, anchored by the phenomenal comedic duo of Chris Farley and David Spade.

Farley shines as Tommy Callahan Jr., the titular Tommy Boy. Tommy is everything a responsible heir shouldn’t be. He coasts through life on a wave of privilege, more interested in inventing ridiculous brake pad designs and wooing the ladies (with questionable success) than learning the ropes of the family auto parts business, Callahan Auto. His attempts to contribute often backfire spectacularly, like his ill-fated “Callahan Sausage” marketing scheme. Yet, Farley imbues Tommy with a goofy charm that makes you root for him. You see the glimmer of a good guy beneath the surface, a guy who desperately wants to prove himself to his gruff, hardworking father (played with gruff perfection by Brian Dennehy).

Spade is perfectly cast as David Newman, Tommy’s polar opposite. David is the uptight, sarcastic accountant assigned to help Tommy get his act together. Spade’s deadpan delivery is the perfect foil to Farley’s manic energy. Their constant bickering is a comedic highlight, with lines like, “You’re a disease, Tommy. You’re a meat-headed disease!” guaranteed to elicit snorts of laughter. But their dynamic goes beyond insults. As the film progresses, a genuine friendship develops, forced by circumstance and fueled by a shared desire to save the business. This unlikely bond adds a layer of sweetness to the humour, making us care about these characters beyond the punchlines.


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The film’s heart truly lies in Tommy’s relationship with his father. Dennehy’s Big Tom Callahan is a tough love kind of guy, a man who built his business from the ground up with sweat and grit. He doesn’t understand Tommy’s immaturity and often resorts to frustration and disappointment. But you never doubt his love for his son. Their interactions are full of gruff tenderness, particularly when Big Tom tries (and fails) to give Tommy “the talk” about the birds and the bees. It’s a surprisingly touching subplot in a film known for its outrageous gags. This emotional core elevates the film beyond a typical slapstick comedy, giving it a depth and relatability that resonate with audiences.

The script, written by Bonnie and Terry Turner, walks a tightrope between slapstick and genuine humour. The physical comedy is broad and often relies on Farley’s impressive commitment to pratfalls. Remember the brake pad invention demonstration gone wrong? Or the disastrous attempt to impress a date with a high kick that sends him crashing through a wall? Farley throws himself into these scenes with reckless abandon, his physical humour being a significant part of the film’s appeal. But there are also moments of clever wordplay and witty observations that keep the laughs coming from a variety of places. David’s sarcastic one-liners perfectly counterpoint Tommy’s goofy pronouncements, and the script throws in some pop culture references that still hold up today.

“Tommy Boy” isn’t without its flaws. The plot can be predictable at times, following a familiar underdog narrative. Some of the gags might feel a bit dated, a product of their mid-90s setting. But these are minor quibbles in the face of the film’s overall brilliance. Director Peter Segal keeps the pace brisk, ensuring the film never drags. The soundtrack is a fun mix of 90s alternative rock and classic rock anthems that perfectly complements the film’s energy.

“Tommy Boy” is a hilarious and heartwarming ride, anchored by two comedic titans at the top of their game. Chris Farley’s boundless energy and David Spade’s sardonic wit create a perfect comedic duo. The film’s surprising emotional depth adds another layer to its appeal. If you’re looking for a good laugh with a surprising amount of heart, “Tommy Boy” is a must-watch. It’s a film that will have you quoting lines for years to come, a testament to its enduring comedic legacy.


My Rating: 7½/10





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