Peter Segal’s Tommy Boy is one of those films where you either hate it, or you love it. The movie uses countless clichés like to help move the comedic movie along. This is expected in just about any other comedic film like, Denis Dugan’s Happy Gilmore, or Jeremiah S. Chechik’s National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, with the main focus of laughter. The story or plot of the movie is not the main focus of the film though. These films are created with the purpose of comedy and the enjoyment of the viewer, like the in the scene where Tommy and Richard get gas and ask for directions. Tommy accidentally rips the door off of Richards prized antique car. Segal’s effort in making this movie did not go into the plot, but rather, he focused on how the plot could bring up comedic events. The perfectly timed sequence of unfortunate events of the movie’s star, Chris Farley, along with his co-star and buddy/critic/enemy, David Spade (Richard), creates hysterical scenes of dumb laughter.
Tommy Callahan (Chris Farley) is the son of a company owner of a brake pad manufacturing company. Tommy barely skates through college after seven years. The large, energetic, Neanderthal-like, idiot is offered a job at his dad’s company with a very comfortable office. His dad surprises Tommy with a new soon-to-be step mom (Bo Derek) and step brother (Rob Lowe). Little to Tommy’s or anyone else’s knowledge, the step mom/step brother duo are conspiring to take over the Callahan business and sell it. Tommy’s dad, Big Tom (Brian Dennehy), dies on the night of his wedding and now the jobs of all the employees at Callahan Auto are in jeopardy.
The film goes on with Tommy and Richard’s (against his will) efforts to sell half a million brake pads to other companies to pay off the bank and save the company from being bought out, and catch his illegitimate step mom and brother from selling the company. This is director Peter Segal’s trademark of movie-making, as you may call it. Segal shows the similar theme of a making a character who had taken their acclaimed wealth and power for granted, and now try to redeem their reputation by saving the day just like in his other movies like The Longest Yard and My Fellow Americans. I am a fan of Segal’s strategy of film making to create a comedic sense that provides many laughs of those who watch.
The downside, or what others may consider to be the downside, of Segal’s movies is that he uses countless movie clichés to create his storyline. Tommy Boy has many: Rich boy gets cushy job at dads business, evil step mom, two man/friend quest, the “on the side” romantic relationship, road trip story, only one man can save the day, clueless to genius, love-hate relationship with partner in crime, fear of company going under and everyone becoming unemployed, etc.… Segal accompanies his sub-par storyline with hilarious, popular actors like Chris Farley (Tommy Boy), Adam Sandler (The Longest Yard), Dan Aykroyd (My Fellow Americans), and Steve Carell (Get Smart). It is the actors and their ingenious ways of “dumb humor” that makes it irresistible to laugh.