Viking Night: Tommy Boy
By Bruce Hall
January 5, 2016
2015 was not a pleasant year. Oh sure, maybe it's over for you, but I still have a bone to pick. 2015 can eat it, because I've found someone new. She's called 2016,and she's wonderful. Not that there aren't problems. I could still use more money; that AMC Gremlin in my driveway isn't going to replace itself. But hey, it's a new year full of new possibilities. Screw you Bono, everything DOES change on New Year’s Day! It HAS to be better, right?
Yes. Yes, it does. I've convinced myself that although literally nothing about anything has changed except for the numerical designation we use to distinguish one day from another, that it will all magically be better. Starting now. So, in order to make my dream a reality, I decided to start the new year with a Chris Farley movie. What better way to remind me of better times than to revisit the work of a beloved comic...who...um...died a gruesome and ignominious death long before his time?
Look, this is a finely crafted delusion that I spent a lot of time on, so I'd appreciate your support.
In case you’re too young to remember, Chris Farley was a legitimate phenomenon back in the early '90s. Think of him as the second coming of John Belushi, who you are probably also too young to remember. I would compare him to someone a little more contemporary, but there is no one. Everything funny in the world died with Chris Farley, so you’ll have to take my word for it. It might be easier to remember David Spade, who played the Snarky Guy in Just Shoot Me and the Snarky Guy in Rules of Engagement. You might also remember him from the Joe Dirt movies, if you’d seen them, but since you probably haven’t, let’s move on.
Farley and Spade were best pals in real life. Farley was like a cuddly, yet irrepressible shelter dog, with Spade as his long suffering yet loving master. Their relationship was comedy gold back in their SNL days, and at some point it was decided to turn them into the next great screen comedy duo. As with most SNL movies, this involved scribbling a few basic plot points onto the back of a postage stamp and stretching them out into a ninety minute film. Hand the script to a handful of comedy professionals, let the cameras roll and watch the magic happen.
That’s what happened with Tommy Boy, and while it’s hardly the classic a lot of people think it is, what you have here is a moderately amusing buddy comedy with some great performances, and a few culturally dated jokes about mental disability and terrorism. It’s a standard issue zero-to-hero yarn about a sad sack named Tommy Callahan (Farley). He’s a lovable loser, a chronic underachiever, a portly slob with a heart of gold. And, he's one of those guys who's chronically 15 minutes late for everything. But he's got a sweet disposition, and managed to squeeze through college as the only 300 pound guy on campus who can bust a cartwheel.