Flashback Friday: Tommy Boy

I’ve already written about a movie based on a Saturday Night Live skit of shwingalicious proportions. To be honest, it’s one of the only SNL-based movies that I can tolerate, let alone love.

[Loba Tangent: Dear Mr. Michaels, Creating a character that is funny for five minutes does not automatically translate to said character being funny for 90 whole minutes. Tangentially, having a cast member who can be funny for five minutes does not a movie star make. I won’t name names, but I suspect you already know about whom I speak.]

Then there is Tommy Boy, SNL alum Chris Farley’s first starring foray into movies.


I’m sure it was a scary prospect, moving from the safety of Rockefeller Plaza to Hollywood, so Farley took along his woobie…er, friend and fellow cast mate, David Spade.

[Loba Tangent 2: This was Spade and Farley’s first movie together, but they appeared in a lot of SNL skits with each other and they went on to make another movie, which was a blatant attempt to capitalize off the popularity of this one. Riding the coattails, so to speak. Kind of like how Spade rode Farley’s coattails, even after Farley died. Oh, you thought I had forgotten that awful DirecTV commercial you did, Davey? Not cool, man. Not cool.]

Enough tangents. I love Tommy Boy. It’s not Shakespeare. It’s not deep. It’s not Oscar-worthy. It belittles stupid people and fat people and skinny people and balding people and short people and Midwesterners and city slickers and deer and bees and cows and cops and working-class people and white-collar people, and I think it implies a little bit of non-incestuous incest for a couple of characters.

But…it’s funny. It’s damned funny. Whatever his hangups, proclivities, problems, or demons, Chris Farley was an incredibly funny guy. He channeled Belushi’s energy in so many ways during his SNL days, to both great and awful ends. He was the eponymous bull in SNL’s china shop, body-slamming and careening his way through some of the most hilarious skits to come from that show’s time period…hell, to come from the entirety of the show’s run.

And he brought that same untamed energy to Tommy Boy, this paint-by-numbers buddy movie about a bumbling oaf and a snippy little pencil pusher, one who is clueless about everything and the other who is bitter to his core about said cluelessness.

This time? Hilarity absolutely ensues.

This could have been a nothing movie like so many other cinematic flops from SNL cast mates (even though Tommy Boy wasn’t an actual SNL character, the truth is that most every character Farley ever played was actually just Farley being Farley…and that was perfectly fine). And, to be fair, the “holy shnikey” shtick threatens to wear thin (but only threatens; it somehow holds in there until the end). There was something about Farley in this movie…something that he was never able to recapture, not even by pairing up with Spade for the lesser Black Sheep, which was really just a different iteration on this movie.

Tommy Boy came out in 1995, and sadly, it was Farley’s highest career point. He remained on SNL a bit long and did a few more movies that never came close to the popularity of this film. And then his demons finally found him and he overdosed on December 18, 1997. He was only 33 years old. I remember that it was close to Christmas when he died because my mom told me while we were out Christmas shopping. I even remember where we were: standing in the classical music section of the Waves Music, looking for something for my dad. Crazy, right? Most people remember where they were when Elvis died or JFK or John Lennon. I’ll always remember where I was when I learned that Chris Farley died.

Talk about a downer. Just call me Debbie. Oh, but please don’t try to make a whole movie based on Debbie Downer. Here, let’s forget I even mentioned the name. Let’s watch the trailer for Tommy Boy instead. And after we’re finished, we can go cow tipping. I heard that Sandusky has their own league (I should know; I used to have the T-shirt)…