A classic buddy picture that has turned into a staple on Comedy Central (and has gained a remarkable following since its theatrical release), "Tommy Boy" remains one of the most beloved comedies of the 90's. The picture stars the late Chris Farley as Tommy Callahan, Jr., the rather dim-witted son of the head (Brian Dennehy) of a major auto parts company. When the father passes away shortly after getting married to a new flame (Bo Derek), it's up to Tommy, Jr. - accompanied by a very reluctant accountant, Richard (David Spade) to go out on the road to make the yearly sales trip.
Meanwhile, Tommy, Sr.'s wife and her "son" (Rob Lowe) are planning to take the business from Tommy and sell it to another manufacturer (Dan Ackroyd playing the head of the company), who plans to stamp his name on Callahan parts. When Richard and Tommy aren't on the road, the picture becomes a little bit too predictable and unoriginal for its own good, but there are more than enough scenes where the two hit the road that are nothing short of hilarious.
In fact, it's the middle of the movie that stands out as its finest hour. The scenes where Richard and Tommy have to sell to suppliers are downright brilliant, including one where Tommy, frustrated at not being able to make the deal, manages to set a toy car on the supplier's desk on fire. There's also Spade's wealth of memorable lines. Some of my favorites are the more brief zingers, such as Spade's "Are ya sure?" response to Tommy stating that his tie's a clip-on. Another scene has Richard helping Tommy read the map, going, "Ok, where's moron? Moron's here (pointing to Tommy)."
The film does take from "Planes, Trains and Automobiles", and while "Tommy Boy" doesn't reach the heights of that film, the dialogue and situations still seem fresh and funny here. Also, although it's a little more slapstick-driven, "Tommy Boy" also has a lot of heart amidst the laughs. Although they weren't able to re-create their chemistry with the horrible follow-up for the pairing, "Black Sheep", Spade and Farley stand out as a classic team here, playing off one another marvelously. While a minor success when it came out, "Tommy Boy" has quickly grown to be a classic with a massive following. It's definitely one of those movies that can be watched over and over.
VIDEO: "Tommy Boy" is presented by Paramount in 1.85:1 (1080p/AVC) and the results are rather good - if mildly inconsistent at times. Sharpness and detail look improved overall, but still vary: while some scenes look as crisp as they did when the film hit theaters, a few stretches look noticeably softer by comparison.
The print used also looks a bit patchy at times, as well - while most of the film looked clean and crisp, some scenes looked grainy and showed a few specks, marks and scratches. While nothing too out of the ordinary for a comedy that's not far from its 15th birthday, the print issues were still a bit of a distraction when they appeared. On a positive note, the presentation remained free of edge enhancement and pixelation.
While the film has never appeared particularly colorful, colors do have more pop than on previous editions, looking a tad richer and more vibrant. Flesh tones looked accurate and natural, while black level remained solid. While fans shouldn't expect a crystal clear presentation for the film's Blu debut, the presentation is a step up.
SOUND: The film is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1, and remains a pure and simple "comedy mix". The music sounds clear, rich and enveloping throughout. Although this isn't terribly aggressive or intense in terms of sound, the music is impressively strong sounding. Dialogue is also natural and clear throughout. Not too terribly much to it, but it certainly gets the job done. The Dolby TrueHD presentation sounds a tad cleaner and fuller than the DVD's Dolby Digital 5.1 option, but the differences aren't major.
EXTRAS: Director Peter Segal offers an audio commentary for the movie on the first disc. Segal's commentary is quite enjoyable, as he provides a fun discussion of how a lot of the comedy came about - inspirations for jokes, how bits were played and replayed to get the most milage out of the material, etc. We also hear about budget issues, changes that went on during filming and shooting on location in Canada.
The remainder of the supplements are on the second disc, starting with a series of featurettes. "Tommy Boy: Behind the Laughter" is a nearly 30-minute documentary that takes a look at the making of the picture. Director Peter Segal, Spade, Lorne Michaels, Rob Lowe, writer Fred Wolf and others recall the conception of the movie at Paramount, the pairing of Spade and Farley and the production of the fairly low-budget feature. This is a very well done piece, and provides a great recap both the making of the film and how popular the film has become over the years.
"Stories From the Side of the Road" is a shorter piece that taes a look at some of the most famous bits in the movie, and some of the stories about not only how they were filmed, but their inspirations. "Just the Two of Us" looks at the Spade/Farley pairing and finally, "Growing up Farley" has Chris's brothers John and Kevin offering hilarious stories from growing up with Chris.
The deleted scenes section offers deleted scenes, extended scenes and alternate takes. The five deleted scenes are pretty funny, and come with an introduction from director Peter Segal. There are also 15 extended sequences, including a slightly extended (but still not showing anything) pool sequence, more Chicken Wings and a bit more to the Farley dance at the gas station. Finally, we get 6 alternate takes.
Also included are 7 storyboard-to-film comparisons, a pretty funny gag reel, TV spots, the film's theatrical trailer (presented in HD) and a photo gallery.
Final Thoughts: "Tommy Boy" remains a classic comedy, with a lot of heart and a lot of big laughs. The Blu-Ray edition offers moderately improved video quality, as well as slightly better audio quality and the extras from the DVD edition. Recommended.
The Film B+