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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 6/1/00

Tommy Boy
1995 (1999) - Paramount

review by Greg Suarez of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Tommy Boy Film Rating: C+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B+/D-

Specs and Features

97 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, theatrical trailer, film-themed menu screens, scene access (24 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1) and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned

Sweet, boisterous Tommy Callahan (Chris Farley) is not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but he finally manages to graduate from college with a D+. His father, Tom, Sr. (Brian Dennehy), owns Callahan Automotive - a company that makes mechanical accessories for cars. Tommy's happiness about his recent graduation is boosted when he learns that his dad has arranged a cushy job for him at Callahan, and that he will soon have a step-brother (Rob Lowe) when his father marries the voluptuous Beverly (Bo Derek). Tom, Sr.'s cynical, everyone-hating right-hand man Richard (David Spade) is begrudgingly assigned to watch out for Tommy Boy until he gets his feet wet in the family business.

Life is like a dream for Tommy Boy, until his world comes crashing down around him. First, his father dies unexpectedly, leaving Tommy as the president of debt-riddled Callahan Automotive. Then the banks get nervous and start calling in the debt, which triggers a possible buy-out by Zalinsky (Dan Aykroyd), the owner of a large, competing auto parts chain. Not wanting to let down his friends and co-workers, Tommy decides to go out on the road on a frenzied, last minute sales trip to save the company. And as this is a buddy movie, it goes without saying that Richard gets tangled up in this trip as well. Will Tommy Boy save the company? Are his new mother and stepbrother all they seem to be? Buckle up and find out...

Tommy Boy is a fun movie, but Farley's physical comedy schtick gets a little old after a while. The saving grace of this film is David Spade and his cynicism. While it would be a miserable experience to live life as such a smug, hateful little man, it is gobs of fun to watch. The chemistry between Farley and Spade works very well and thankfully Tommy Boy does not turn into a long Saturday Night Live sketch. The story moves along at a pretty quick pace, which helps to keep the audience interested.

The anamorphic widescreen picture on this Paramount DVD (framed at 1.85:1) is pleasing overall, but has several faults. Some of the close-up shots seem "digital" in appearance, and there is a noticeable amount of compression artifacting. Color rendition is nice, but the picture looks a little grainy in areas. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is uneventful, as with most comedies. However the music is nicely integrated into the track, dialog sounds natural, and there are a few neat directional sound effects.

Not to get off track too much, I feel compelled to provide a great example of the quality DVD offers over VHS. In chapter 7, Tommy and his girlfriend are discussing his father's recent death. On the DVD edition, it is obvious that he has a tear welled up in his eye, but on the VHS edition, I never was able to notice. This might not seem like a big deal in print, but on viewing it actually gives the tender scene a much more emotional feel, which heightened the experience.

The extras on this disc are limited to the theatrical trailer. A few years ago on cable, I saw a making-of featurette for Tommy Boy with footage of Farley interacting with some college students on the campus they use in the movie. It was entertaining and would have been welcomed on this DVD. Paramount could have also included a tribute to the late Chris Farley. Missed opportunities.

Tommy Boy is a fun movie, and is sure to provide your buddies with many memorable lines that can be recited ad nauseum. The audio and video quality of the DVD edition is passable, and the lack of extras might keep some from making the purchase. Still, it's definitely worth a rent. Not convinced? Well... let me just say that you can get a good look at a butcher's ass by sticking your head up there, but wouldn't you rather take his word for it? No... I mean you can get a good look at a T-bone by sticking your head up a butcher's ass… uhh… just take my word for it, okay!

Greg Suarez
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