1995, PG-13, 97 min. Directed by Peter Segal. Starring Chris Farley, David Spade, Bo Derek, Brian Dennehy, Rob Lowe, Julie Warner.
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., April 7, 1995
This Tommy Boy is no pinball wizard, but you may leave the theatre wishing that the character were at least deaf, dumb, and blind. If so, the movie would have been a lot quieter and a lot less frenetic. As it is, this latest Saturday Night Live movie spin-off is a whole lot better than it has to be, but consider the past standards Tommy Boy has to live up to. (For example, one recent SNL venture, It's Pat ,was deemed so unreleasable that it went straight to video after a few trial screenings.) Tommy Boy is a feature-length vehicle for the odd-couple pairing of Chris Farley and David Spade. Farley is Tommy Boy, a lame-brained college graduate who inherits his father's auto part business when Dad (pleasurably played by Brian Dennehy, who is believably cast as Chris Farley's dad) keels over and dies while dancing at his own wedding to Bo Derek. David Spade plays the supercilious organization man who is assigned to babysit Tommy Boy on a far-fetched road trip meant to save the company. As a mismatched pair, Farley and Spade do have their comic moments with the big galoot playing off the little jerk. But Tommy Boy has a maudlin streak that internally vies with its comic aims. Various scenes are played for pathos and heart-tugging emotions, which simply goes against everything these invented characters are about. And what's with this theme we're seeing a lot of lately: that of a young doofus who must prove himself worthy before inheriting the family fortune? Maybe it's because the other most recent SNL spin-off, Billy Madison , also used this story line that it seems like a trend when, more accurately, it might be defined as a conceptual rut. There is one other odd-couple pairing in Tommy Boy that I must mention: Bo Derek and Rob Lowe as villainous lovers. It's Lowe's most ill-conceived coupling since his tasteless duet with Snow White. The sight of him together with the original Ms. 10 elicits a spine-shuddering eeeuuu and the feeling that you've just witnessed something unnecessarily unsavory.