Tommy Boy: Holy Schnike Edition (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 10 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Tommy Boy essentially marked the coming of age of actor Chris Farley. He’d had supporting roles in a few earlier movies (namely “Wayne’s World”, “Billy Madison” and “Airheads” which were all headlined by his SNL buddies), but this is where the duo between Chris Farley and David Spade began. Chris Farley, who died of an apparent drug overdose late in 1997, had a huge career ahead of him. But his life, like John Belushi (whom Farley idolized), was in the fast lane and his candle was snuffed way too early. The movie was directed by Peter Segal, who’s come into his own in the last few years. His latest trio of movie includes “The Longest Yard”, “Anger Management” and “50 First Dates” interestingly enough they all star Adam Sandler. But this is where Segal found his direction (we won’t count “Naked Gun 331/3: The Final Insult”). As evidenced in the supplements to Tommy Boy, Segal had a vision for what he wanted the movie to be. When supplied with the right talent (Farley and Spade), sparks flew and the rest, as they say, is history. Now don’t get me wrong, Tommy Boy certainly isn’t the funniest movie ever made and it didn’t exactly break new ground as far as movies go. But it was a defining movie that will always be looked back upon.

For the record, the plot goes a bit like thisTommy Callahan (Chris Farley) has just graduated from college. Yes, it took him seven years but it took me seven years as well so I hold this character in very high regard. His father (Brian Dennehey) is the owner of Callahan auto parts and Tommy has a sweet job lined up for him as he’s being groomed to take over the family business. Tom Callahan Sr. (Dennehey) is also set to marry the stunning Beverly Barish (Bo Derek) whom he met at a “fat farm”. What he doesn’t know is that she is only marrying him for his money as she stands to inherit his fortune. As fate would have it, Tom Callahan drops dead at the wedding, leaving Tommy alone and confused. The plant is set to close unless Tommy can raise enough money so the bank won’t close on the loan. Richard (David Spade), an accountant and semi-close friend of Tommy from childhood, is sent alongside to help him with the job. This is where the “buddy” in buddy movie takes hold. As the two try, at first unsuccessfully, to sell the Callahan name an unlikely friendship starts to take hold. By the end of the trip, the two are still at each other’s throats but there’s something more to it.

At the time the movie was made, late 1994, Farley and Spade were still regular cast members on “Saturday Night Live” and though trying, they did manage to make this movie and perform their roles on television as well. The movie was somewhat of a hit at the time but has since grown into “cult classics” status. It inspired somewhat of a spin-off the next year with “Black Sheep”, which wasn’t quite as good or nearly as inspired. If you look below the surface, you’ll see that Tommy Boy actually has some good qualities to it. Yes, the good guys win at the end and the bad guy (Rob Lowe) gets what’s coming to him but friendship, teamwork and perseverance are certainly evident in this comedy. It’s been a while since my tenure in college but I’m willing to bet that this movie is being watched in dorm rooms and fraternity houses all across the country and it will be for some time to come. For those out there who haven’t seen it or thought that Chris Farley was just another “big fat guy comic”, Tommy Boy will prove them wrong.

Video: How does it look?

I had high hopes when I popped in Tommy Boy as it’s a personal favorite of mine. Thankfully Paramount’s 1.85:1 AVC HD transfer didn’t really disappoint. I noticed a clarity that I hadn’t seen in the previous standard DVD offerings and that’s not to say that they were bad, but this Blu-ray does look pretty darn good. It can be hit and miss with some films (even those from the 90’s), but thankfully Tommy Boy has come up with the long end of the stick. Colors are generally strong and detail is better than I’ve seen it look on this film. There’s a tad bit of grain in some of the earlier scenes, but those are few and far between. Contrast has been improved as well and what we’re left with is a generally good-looking transfer; much better than I expected.

Audio: How does it sound?

Tommy Boy isn’t the most audio-heavy movie out there, but it does have a few moments namely when the deer is stuck in the car. The soundtrack is full of songs from the 70’s and 80’s and they all sound better than ever in a Dolby TrueHD track. Surround effects are pretty few and far between, though dialogue is generally strong and well-centered. This is a notch above the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that was present on the standard DVD and as mentioned, Tommy Boy wasn’t really made to blow the roof off the place but what we have here is a better than average soundtrack and it shows.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This Blu-ray disc has the same supplements found on the standard “Holy Schnike” edition, though nothing new has been included. The first incarnation of Tommy Boy had the basics, as do most of Paramount’s catalog titles. Well, this “Holy Schnike” edition has that plus a commentary, plus deleted and alternate scenes plus a whole lot more. First off, movie and the commentary track by Peter Segal are housed on the first disc. Segal obviously has a high regard for this film and his comments are reflected in his commentary track. After listening to this and the featurettes, there is a lot of redundant information but better too much than not enough.

The second disc houses the remainder of the supplements which begin with four featurettes. “Tommy Boy: Behind the Laughter” is a look at the film, how it came to fruition and the names and faces behind it. To learn more about the characters we must watch “Stories From the Side of the Road” in which the characters are described in more detail as well as a lot of behind the scenes footage with Farley and Spade. Next up is “Just the Two of Us” which is, obviously a look at Chris Farley and David Spade’s on and off camera relationship. The two played off of each other like a modern day Laurel and Hardy and their bond is shown in detail here. Lastly we have “Growing up Farley” in which Chris Farley’s two brothers tell some stories of him, how crazy he was growing up and how happy he was while acting. The deleted/alternate scenes gets a bit crazy and you can imagine with Chris Farley in the cast that pretty much every take of a certain scene will be entirely different. 6 Deleted scenes are shown with a Director’s introduction and why the scene was cut. These are shown in varying degrees of quality, but Segal’s comments at least tell us why things ended up the way they were I mean did we really need a scene of Rob Lowe using his hairspray to light a dog on fire? There are also half a dozen alternate takes for key scenes: “Fat Guy in a Little Coat” comes to mind. These kind of show the road that a scene takes from script to screen and the progress in between. Lastly there are some 15 extended scenes already in the movie. While I think some of them should have been left in the longer version the old excuse of “pacing, pacing, pacing” was the reason they were shortened. There are no fewer than 19 TV spots and a theatrical trailer as well as the old “Gag Reel” and a photo gallery to round out the supplements.

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