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Tommy Boy (1995) - Blu-ray Review

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Tommy Boy (1995) - Blu-ray review

3 starsThe passage of time can be a quiet fox, running unencumbered so deftly that one is caught unawares as it bluntly and unmercifully makes its presence known. When I sat down to review this Blu-ray, the realisation that 21 years have passed since the death of Chris Farley hit home. We’re now on a third decade without the contributions of the big, loveable, goofy lug. How is that possible?

Farley, like so many comedians, had an ineffable quality that transcended into their film work and kept the audience coming back for more, no matter the quality of it. It was just fun to be around him, and it is a testament to that undefinable magic within Chris Farley that makes his passing all the more tragic.

Back in 1995, Farley was a hot property on SNL. Like many of that era of SNL alumni, producer Lorne Michaels tested the waters of his likeable standout with a feature film. The test to see if Farley could hold his own movie would be Tommy Boy.

Tommy Callahan III (Farley) is the sweet but directionless son of auto parts kingpin, Big Tom. In an attempt to bring him some direction, his loving old man (Brian Dennehey) brings him on as an executive in the family company, and also announces he is going to remarry a woman he met at a fat farm (Bo Derek). Life for the Callahans seems to be on the up, until Big Tom suffers a heart attack at his wedding and passes away. In the wake of his father’s death, a change of heart from the bank sees his father’s legacy at risk, added to which Tommy’s new mother in law is not at all what she seems. Tommy is forced to go across the country with an acerbic employee (David Spade) to prove to the bank the viability of his father’s vision. What ensues are the trials of a good hearted buffoon, out of his depth, unaware of anything except his love for what his dad had built and the importance of it to all who work there.

 

"Tommy Boy is not a revelation in film making, comedy, or anything beyond a competently made debut vehicle for a rising star of the time"


 

The story in some form or another has been told many times before and since. But it acts as a serviceable road for Farley to travel and do what he is supposed to be doing: make you laugh. What I believe gets overlooked so often is how effortlessly he takes you through this story, and for all his characters faults, remains likeable and relatable the entire time. That is a true gift. There is real heart to the performance, to the characterisation, and in the story. It is the kind of film that is easy to sit through, enjoyable non-taxing fair that can enjoyably be digested on a lazy movie watching day. For that reason alone, it became a well-deserved cult favourite on the home video market.

Farley and Spade were close in real life and had honed a shtick with each other before their cinematic debut that was pitch-perfect. It was something they knew how to do together in their sleep, and it comes across in Tommy Boy. It has been levelled at the both of them after similar dynamics in Black Sheep that this was laziness, but I challenge you not to snigger when Farley does ‘Fat Guy In A Little Coat’ something that came from their personal lives together.

The supporting cast was strong outside the two leads. Dennehey was likeable and believable as the man who helped form Farley’s character. Rob Lowe played the handsome/lecherous antagonist; something he too had honed in many projects before and since.

The behind the scenes stuff, from director Peter Segal, to the writers Bonnie & Terry Turner and Fred Wolfe, to David Newman’s score present a well-oiled machine, doing what they did best. It isn’t unfair to say they were not testing themselves, but their job was to allow Farley to emerge as a leading man and let him do what he did best. In that, they were completely successful.

Tommy Boy is not a revelation in film making, comedy, or anything beyond a competently made debut vehicle for a rising star of the time. What it does have in spades is likability and the distinction of being the movie that showed the world Chris Farley had the chops to lead one. It enabled him to grow as a performer, and allowed us to share some time with him. That he is still missed, that we now know where his career was headed, is a true and tragic reminder of how special he was. Not a bad legacy for a likeable little movie.

Tommy Boy (1995) - Blu-ray review

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sex-related humor, some drug content and nudity.
Runtime:
97 mins
Director
: Peter Segal
Writer:
Bonnie Turner, Terry Turner
Cast:
Chris Farley, David Spade, Brian Dennehy
Genre
: Comedy
Tagline:
If at first you don't succeed, lower your standards.
Memorable Movie Quote: "We'll pray. We'll pray. We'll pray for the last time. We'll pray."
Theatrical Distributor:
United Artists
Official Site:
Release Date:
November 16, 1976
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 11, 2016
Synopsis: Richard... Who's you're favorite little rascal? Alfalfa? Or is it Spanky?

Tommy Boy (1995) - Blu-ray review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Available on Blu-ray
- February 7, 2017
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish
Audio:
English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 2.0; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Region-free playback

The high def transfer is not a representation of availing oneself of its capabilities. The MPEG-4 AVC encode benefits from sharper contrast and by proxy a better sense of depth in the picture, but it isn’t from any efforts made in the mastering. There are a lot of artefacts and noise in the picture that no effort was made to clean up. Skin tones are bang on, and as previously mentioned at this resolution help define more detail. Certainly a better picture than dvd or the vhs, but that’s not really screaming out its merits.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • While highly recommended, it is sad that there are no commentaries for the film.

Audio:

  • You get a lossless DOLBY TRUEHD 5.1 mix, which is a step up from previously releases. There is more defined clarity, especially in the centre channel, but most of the mix is front channel focused with rarely an opportunity taken to work out the rears. It’s again adequate, but hardly revelatory.

 

Special Features:

Loaded to the gills and spread across two discs, the Collector’s Edition of Carrie is a thing to celebrate.  All the interviews on the second disc are new and provide a lot of information on the making of the movie and its legacy.  With interviews from Lawrence Cohen, Mario Tosi, Paul Hirsch, Harriet B. Helberg, William Katt, Nancy Allen, Betty Buckley, Piper Laurie, Edie McClurg and P.J. Soles, and Pino Donaggio, the filming of the movie is covered from beginning to end and certainly will not disappoint any fan of the movie.  With new cover art, this 2-disc set is a must-own.

Disc One (Feature Film)

It’s basically everything you were given in the 2005 DVD. You get a ho-hum commentary from director Segal, some length deleted scenes and extended scenes, some throw away and outdated featurettes covering aspects of making the film and Farley’s brothers waxing lyrical about growing up in their household. None of this is bad stuff, if you haven’t seen it before, but if you’re springing for a hi def update, some hi-def and new retrospectives would make this an easier purchase. As it is, the only HD entry is the trailer.

Tommy Boy (1995) - Blu-ray review

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