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Peter Segal
Chris Farley, David Spade, Brian Dennehy, Bo Derek, Dan Aykroyd, Rob Lowe, Julie Warner, Sean McCann, Zach Grenier
Writing Credits:
Bonnie Turner, Terry Turner

If at first you don't succeed, lower your standards.

Party animal Tommy Callahan (Chris Farley) is definitely a few cans short of a six-pack. But after seven years, Tommy's finally earned his diploma - and a cushy job at Callahan Auto Parts. Returning home, Tommy gets some more great news: his dad (Brian Dennehy) is marrying a real "10" (Bo Derek), and Tommy will get the stepbrother (Rob Lowe) he always wanted.

But as fast as you can say "Who killed the keg?," the family business starts tanking. Now Tommy's got to hit the road with his dad's right-hand man, a smug numbers-cruncher (David Spade). And what these two don't know about salesmanship could fill a book - and a ridiculously funny movie!

Box Office:
Domestic Gross
$32.700 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby 2.0
French Dolby 2.0

Runtime: 97 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 8/30/2005

Disc One
• Audio Commentary with Director Peter Segal
Disc Two
• “Tommy Boy: Behind the Laughter” Featurette
• “Stories from the Side of the Road” Featurette
• “Just the Two of Us” Featurette
• “Growing Up Farley” Featurette
• 5 Deleted Scenes
• 6 Alternate Takes
• 15 Extended Scenes
• 7 Storyboard Sequences
• 19 TV Spots
• Gag Reel
• Photo Gallery
• Trailer


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Tommy Boy: Holy Schnike Edition (1995)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 24, 2005)

Would Chris Farley have become a major movie star ala John Belushi if he’d not died from his own excesses in 1997? That I don’t know, though many clearly think he had the talent and personality to enter “household name” territory. His first starring role in 1995’s Tommy Boy probably remains his most enduring and popular effort.

Farley plays Tommy Callahan Jr., the son of successful auto parts manufacturer “Big Tom” Callahan (Brian Dennehy). After seven years, Tommy finally manages to graduate from college, and his dad rewards him with a cushy job at the factory. Big Tom also surprises Tommy with news of his engagement. He’ll marry sexy Beverly (Bo Derek) in a few days, which means that her son Paul (Rob Lowe) will also join the family.

All seems great in Tommy’s world until Big Tom keels over at the wedding reception. This puts the family business in uncertain hands since Big Tom extended the company financially to start a brake pads division. Some of the suits want to sell to auto parts magnate Ray Zalinsky (Dan Aykroyd), but a few prefer for things to remain in family hands.

The proposed solution: if Tommy can sell enough pads to cover a loan, the company will stay in the Callahan family. He knows nothing about auto parts, so he forces Richard Hayden (David Spade), his dad’s right-hand man – and Tommy’s former classmate – to go with him. The movie follows their journey on the road to move pads as well as forces that conspire against them.

Over the last decade, Tommy has earned a definite cult following and seems to have gotten to “classic” status in some circles. I don’t know if it deserves such exalted standing, but I think the flick works pretty well.

Any similarities between Tommy Boy and Billy Madison were likely intentional. Both feature ne’er-do-well heirs who have to prove their worth. At first blush, Tommy does look like a rip-off of the Adam Sandler hit, but the two flicks differ more substantially once you get inside them. Tommy has a more serious tone and doesn’t engage in nearly as much nuttiness. Besides, since Tommy came out only weeks following the release of Billy, obviously it didn’t steal from it.

I do suspect that in the incestuous little world of former Saturday Night Live performers, some cross-pollination occurred. Farley, Spade and Sandler all worked on the show at the same time, and Tommy director Peter Segal would later helm three Sandler flicks. I’d guess that both Tommy and Billy at least moderately influenced each other. We can also see a clear nod toward 1987’s Planes, Trains and Automobiles as well.

Whatever the case may be, Tommy does stand as its own movie, and it works largely due to the chemistry between Farley and Spade. Old pals by the time they made this movie, their connection helps bring about a lot of life in their interactions. They spar with each other nicely, and we also believe it when they finally start to become friends. There’s not a lot of meat to the story, so its success hinges on these interactions. Happily, Farley and Spade make them work.

A generally solid supporting cast helps as well. Rob Lowe had already ventured into the world of SNL alumni comedy with 1992’s Wayne’s World, but he didn’t really play against type. His character there was a smooth pretty boy; he was nastier and more outrageous than usual, but not a huge stretch.

Tommy Boy puts Lowe in an even darker role, and one without the usual reliance on his charm and looks. Surprisingly, he does quite well. Lowe makes Paul nicely sinister and adds good humor to the part. His introduction sets him up as a bad seed, and while he gets little to do the rest of the time, he still maintains a wonderfully evil presence.

Too bad I can’t provide similar compliments for Bo Derek. I get the feeling she received the role because the folks involved looked back fondly on her early Eighties glory days. The woman never could act, and she didn’t grow as a performer between ”10” and Tommy. Stiff, wooden, and whatever other erection puns you’d like to use to describe bad acting, Derek takes a bland role and makes it even more inert. She looks good – heck, she was only 38! – but her lifeless presence sucks the air out of her scenes.

Despite that problem, Tommy Boy manages to offer a reasonable amount of entertainment. I don’t think it’s as good as Billy Madison, but it provides a likable and genial affair. Does it deserve classic status? No, but it works for the most part and stands as one of the better SNL alumni flicks.

The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus A-

Tommy Boy appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Much of the picture looked very good, but enough minor problems manifested themselves to create a few distractions.

Sharpness mainly worked well. A smidgen of softness crept into some wider shots, but those remained minor. The majority of the flick looked concise and accurate. No shimmering or jaggies showed up, and only a little edge enhancement became apparent. As for source flaws, I noticed a occasional examples of specks and marks, but these weren’t too prominent.

Colors were acceptable but not better than that. At times, they took on nice signs of brightness and definition. However, they also could be a bit flat and drab. Some of that stemmed from the production design, as Midwestern factories don’t lend themselves to vivid tones. Too many daytime outdoors shots looked a little bland for me to chalk it all up to photographic choices, though. Black levels appeared deep and rich, while shadow detail was decent. A few shots seemed somewhat dense, but mostly the low-light images were appropriately delineated. This transfer worked pretty well as a whole.

As for the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Tommy Boy, it seemed fine but it didn’t excel because of a lack of ambition. Like most comedies, the movie featured a limited soundfield that strongly favored the forward channels. It showed very nice stereo spread to the music as well as some general ambience from the sides.

Panning was decent, and the surrounds usually kicked in basic reinforcement. A few scenes opened up better, though, especially in the factory. Heck, a couple of sequences even offered some pretty solid split surround material. These were the exceptions to the rule, however, as most of the movie stayed with limited imaging.

Audio quality appeared good for the most part. Speech was natural and distinct, with no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Effects sounded clean and accurate, with good fidelity and no signs of distortion. Music was the weakest link, as the score and songs lacked much heft. They were perfectly clear, but the absence of notable bass response made them sound a bit tepid. This track was good enough for a “B-“ but didn’t particularly impress.

Paramount previously released Tommy Boy as a barebones DVD in 1999 that included only a trailer. Six years later, they’ve finally given the flick a full special edition. Called the “Holy Schnike Edition”, this one offers a mix of extras across its two platters.

On DVD One, we find an audio commentary from director Peter Segal. He offers a running, screen-specific chat. Segal discusses locations and shooting in Toronto, script and title changes, working with Farley and Spade, the influences for various gags, the score, crafting the conclusion, and general production notes. Segal presents a reasonable amount of good information about the film and gives us a pretty nice overview of things. However, he goes silent too much of the time. There’s a moderate level of dead air, and that makes things drag. There’s enough quality material to make this worth a listen, though.

The first disc also opens with some ads. We find promos for Airplane, “The John Wayne Collection”, MacGyver, George Lopez: Why You Crying?, The Warriors and the 1974 version of The Longest Yard.

Heading to DVD Two, we start with Tommy Boy: Behind the Laughter. This 29-minute and six-second featurette includes a mix of movie clips, shots from the set, and interviews. We hear from Segal, associate producer Michael Ewing, producer Lorne Michaels, executive producer Robert K. Weiss, editor William Kerr, writer Fred Wolf, actors David Spade, Rob Lowe, Bo Derek, Julie Warner and Brian Dennehy. We learn about the roots of the project and the connection between Spade and Chris Farley, the inexperience of many on the shoot, development of the script, scheduling complications related to Saturday Night Live, Segal’s style, Farley’s impact on the production and his character, and casting and the work of other actors, and the movie’s impact.

Inevitably, some fluffiness emerges during the show. However, it includes a pretty good collection of stories and notes about making the flick. We also get a surfeit of nice behind the scenes footage that presents plenty of outtakes and other fun moments. “Laughter” is a solid program.

In Stories from the Side of the Road, we get a 13-minute and 30-second piece. It includes remarks from Segal, Spade, Lowe, Wolf, Kerr, Weiss, and cinematographer Victor J. Kemper. Anecdotal in nature, this show covers the development and shooting of many of the movie’s most memorable bits. Among others, we learn how they came up with gags like the Flashdance spoof and “Fat Guy In a Little Coat” as well as the issues connected with shooting the deer and cow-tipping scenes. Some of this repeats from the commentary, but we get a lively and informative look at the flick’s creative moments.

Another featurette called Just the Two of Us appears next. It goes nine minutes, 46 seconds and presents comments from Spade, Segal, Derek, Warner, Lowe, Wolf, brothers Kevin and John Farley and actor Dan Aykroyd. As implied by the title, this one covers the Spade/Farley relationship. We hear about their connection and get stories about their work together. These include some fun tales like their spat over Rob Lowe. “Two” fits in well with the other programs and provides a nice glimpse of the Farley/Spade dynamic.

For the final featurette, we find Growing Up Farley. It fills seven minutes, 29 seconds with notes from Kevin and John Farley as well as Michaels, Segal, Wolf and Spade. We mostly hear about Farley’s childhood behavior, though we also get some information about his start in show business. The remarks from the Farley brothers are surprisingly unsentimental – they may Chris sound like a really obnoxious kid – and this program lacks the goopiness I expect from retrospectives about the deceased. That’s a good thing, and the tone helps make the piece reasonably useful.

Scads of cut footage appears on this DVD. We find five Deleted Scenes (six minutes, 52 seconds), six Alternate Takes (4:27), and 15 Extended Scenes (22:33). Peter Segal offers introductions for all the “Deleted Scenes” that tell us why he cut the sequences. Those segments are the most interesting of the bunch since they don’t have any siblings in the final cut. The “Extended” clips have some good moments, though they mostly show footage we’ve already seen. Similarly, the “Alternate” stuff resembles material in the finished film, but they’re enjoyable since they provide fairly raw shots. Plus, we get a couple more seconds of full nudity from the pool skinny-dipper; that alone is worth the price of admission.

Seven Storyboard Comparisons run 14 minutes and two seconds. These offer the drawings in the top half of the frame and the final film footage in the bottom. I’m not a huge fan of this kind of material, but this section is well-executed and fairly fun to see, partially because the storyboards include a lot of stage directions and other information.

Plenty of ads show up as well. In addition to the film’s trailer, we discover 19 TV Spots. A Gag Reel lasts four minutes, 16 seconds. It’s better than usual since it includes some improvised bits and other wacky moments. Finally, a Photo Gallery features 49 shots from the film and the set. Few of them seem interesting.

One of the stronger movies to come from former Saturday Night Live performers, Tommy Boy gives us an entertaining piece. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel to do anything unexpected or remarkable, but it also avoids the traps that often make SNL alumni flicks feel like little more than collections of skits. Tommy exists as a full, integrated movie, and a fun one at that. The DVD presents pretty positive picture and audio along with a very nice collection of supplements. Top all that off with a very reasonable list price of under $20 and I definitely recommend this fine DVD.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.4102 Stars Number of Votes: 39
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