Tommy Boy - 1995
Tommy Boy is the movie that launched David Spade and the late great Chris Farley into movie stardom. Produced by SNL creator Lorne Michaels, it marks the first 1990s movies he produced that featured an SNL alumnus but not an SNL original character. The story centers around Tommy, a man child who must save the family business after the untimely death of his father.
The script was written by the husband and wife writing team Bonnie and Terry Turner. They were staff writers for SNL and were responsible for six films including Coneheads, The Brady Bunch Movie and Wayne’s World 1&2. Side note: along with the movies I mentioned above, they also created the sitcoms 3rd Rock from the Sun and That 70’s Show. They are the creators of so many of my laughs. They had a distinct writing style of always giving their characters grounded motivations despite having the comedy being mainly slapstick.
So, let’s talk the perfect comedy duo that was and is Chris and David.
Chris Farley’s career was mostly centered around him being of big size, being loud and running into stuff, but he was so much more. Yes, he was extremely funny yelling every single line for emphasis. Yes, it’s extremely funny to see a “fat guy in a little coat”. And yes, it’s extremely funny seeing a big guy break everything in sight with his body, and knowing Farley did almost all his stunts adds to the humor. But what made Farley such a memorable performer was his ability to make you care for him and root for him. He had such a genuine love for his characters that it oozed from the screen and you saw the love and care he put into his performance. Tommy Boy is no exception. While he is a bumbling fool, Tommy is one of the most caring and loving people ever put to screen, never seeing the bad in people and always happy even in the darkest moments. You want him to save the business and get the girl. Side note: his line delivery is drastically overlooked due to his physical comedy prowess.
Having such a beautifully over-the-top performance from Farley, you desperately need something or someone to balance him out. Enter David Spade. Spade has made a career of being a quick-witted sarcasm machine. If we were talking boxing or MMA he would be known as the best counter puncher in the business. He always had a low tone, almost whispered comeback joke to anything and everything Farley said to him. Spade also had a great ability of selling the crazy of Farley, acting shocked or appalled at the stupid things his counterpart did. Farley also gave Spade his moments in the light, innocently laughing at his quips despite them being about Farley.
Having years under their belts from their work in SNL together, they shined in both of their top billed comedies. Sadly, Farley passed away and the world was deprived from seeing this duo deliver another movie after 1996’s Black Sheep.
Tommy Boy wasn’t a huge hit with the critics, due to the familiar comedic elements, but gained a huge cult following thanks to the charm of its leads. While it is a comedy much of its time, there are many elements that hold up to this day and still deliver on many laughs. Farley is a comedic wrecking machine that I honestly miss today and he is why I love movies.
Tommy Boy is currently streaming on Amazon Prime. You should watch it or you will end up living in a van DOWN BY THE RIVER!
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