Tommy Boy (1995) — A laugh-a-minute road trip

“You know a lot of people go to college for seven years.” “I know, they’re called doctors.”

Justin’s rating: Lance, man, this buddy comedy’s for YOU!

Justin’s review: When it comes to guy movies, you need to have a few elements to make it a smashing success:

  • Sarcastic repartee
  • A road trip
  • Some animal getting killed or maimed for no reason
  • A guy with a chainsaw attached to one hand, and a minigun to the other.

Although Tommy Boy only fufills three out of these four requirements, it’s easily one of the funniest buddy movies that’s ever been summoned into existence by the Wizard Film Guild. Where Thelma and Louise had women bonding through adversity and Brad Pitt, Tommy Boy has Tommy (Chris Farley) and Richard (David Spade) bonding through brake pads and Rob Lowe.

Tommy, an idiot child (no savant here), graduates after seven years of college and returns home to rich car part manufacturer Daddy, who promptly up and dies. Because every major life problem can be solved by an ol’ fashioned road trip, Tommy teams up with wonderfully caustic Richard to travel cross-country and sell brake pads, which will (for some reason) save the company.

Yes, that’s right: this is the first movie ever to hinge a happy ending on the doldrum of brake pad orders. I might want to interject by saying that this car part company is located in Sandusky, Ohio, which looks about as appealing as most of New Jersey. As a viewer, I was more rooting for the town to be sucked into Hades than be saved, but such is the sacrifice for “plot.”

Tommy and Richard, opposites in every way (from weight to food preference), forge a tight friendship nonetheless, and Chris Farley gets the only onscreen kiss with a girl the man has ever had.

SNL comes through with one of the last great smash comedy hits of the decade. Farley and Spade are a terrific team, although their only other team effort, Black Sheep, didn’t quite live up to expectations. Practically every scene of Tommy Boy is a work of comedic art, from going cow-tipping to imposting as airline stewards (wherein Spade gives the best “pre-flight safety talk” that I’ve ever heard. Busted a gut, I did. Talk like Yoda, I do.).

I don’t know how better to endorse this film than the following true story. My dad viewed Tommy Boy one day in his bedroom. I was walking by and thought I heard a seal being tortured or something (“ART! ART! ART!” was the exact noise). When I knocked down (or perhaps opened) the door, I saw my father on the floor, laughing so hard he couldn’t breathe. It just goes to prove that Tommy Boy has the appeal to cross generations and transcend humor preferences.

Kyle’s rating: La-la-la-la-la-la-la-GOOD MOVIE!

Kyle’s review: There is no question Saturday Night Live has introduced us to a lot of losers and a lot of really funny people through the years. Chris Farley and David Spade are two of the funny ones, and their buddy film Tommy Boy is one of the funniest to feature SNL cast members.

Rather than make a toilet humor comedy that mostly relies on other SNL member cameos to crank the laughter, Tommy Boy actually has a good plot and a lot of solid laughs. You’ll marvel at the uncanny familial resemblance Farley and Brian Dennehy have, you’ll wish you could whip out quips like Spade, and you’ll reminisce about the roadtrips from hell you went on in college.

Spade and Farley hit the road to sell auto parts to save Farley’s family auto parts business, and wackiness ensues. But it’s serious wackiness, and don’t let your preconceptions of Farley and Spade ruin this movie for you. There’s a decent love story, there is double-crossing, the forging of a strong friendship, and a bittersweet marriage with an unhappy ending.

Toilet humor fans, don’t be discouraged either: You’ll find plenty of pee and masturbation jokes, some dead roadkill and one of the worst blows to a man’s testicles I’ve ever seen. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll feel more relaxed in a reclined position, but you won’t regret seeing this fantastically funny movie.

PoolMan’s rating: I live in a van down by the river!

PoolMan’s review: Chris Farley was a damn funny guy. I mean, he could get annoying as all hell with the constant yelling, but you have to give the guy his credit — he could take a character and OWN him, unlike Adam Sandler (whose school of thought is “I’ll just make every character into ME!!! Each will be louder than the last!!! I’m a screaming idiot!!!”).

I had seen a lot of this movie before, but never bothered to sit through the whole thing. Having finally seen it in its entirety with Justin and my brother Chris (who I swear must rent a good 15% of his brain to the deceased Farley on a timeshare program), it’s not only damn funny, it’s got some heart.

You start pulling for the characters in a way that’s usually pretty alien to these kinds of flicks. You actually care whether or not the family auto parts store stays open. You care whether David Spade stops acting like such a hardass. You really care whether Rob Lowe finally gets it in the end for french kissing his mom. You know, emotional stuff like that.

There’s a lot that’s right with Tommy Boy, and if you’re cool with Chris Farley in general, there’s not much wrong with it. It’s got some less than sanitary moments (Spade watching the girl at the pool), but it doesn’t become grossout comedy. It’s got a love interest, but it doesn’t get all sappy. Nah, it’s all Chris Farley and David Spade banter action at its finest. If we’re calling this an SNL movie, it’s probably one of the best I’ve seen.

Canuck Alert! Dan Aykroyd, in all his glory, plays the role of Z (for Zalinsky). That’s “Zed”, by the way, not “Zee.”


  • The pneumatic tube system used in the car part plant. Gotta love pneumatic tubes!
  • Nice segue between Tommy’s dad’s collapse and his funeral
  • Prehistoric forest!
  • In the motel room, on the TV in the background is a preview for Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult, also directed by Peter Segal.
  • Richard claims Tommy is a virgin on the plane, but Tommy says in his last speech that he lost his virginity to RJ’s daughter
  • The kids onshore are apparently threatened by the word “spazoid”. I doubt this holds true to real life.
  • During one sequence, Tommy and Richard are driving and listening to tunes. “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It” comes on, and like all of us, they try to sing along with the song. And since nobody outside of REM can actually sing the lyrics after a point, the duo starts trailing off. A nice touch.
  • When Bo Derek’s character comes out of the pool, Tommy says to Big Tom (Brian Dennehy), “Whoa, dad. She’s a… ten!” Bo Derek and Brian Dennehy both appeared in 10.
  • Tommy graduates Marquette University, which was Chris Farley’s real-life alma mater.

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