Tommy Boy is a 1995 American road comedy film directed by Peter Segal, written by Bonnie and Terry Turner, produced by Lorne Michaels, and starring former Saturday Night Live castmates and close friends Chris Farley and David Spade . The working title for the film was originally "Rocky Road". The film tells the story of a socially and emotionally immature man (Farley) who learns lessons about friendship and self-worth following the sudden death of his industrialist father. The film did well commercially but received mixed reviews from critics. The film was shot primarily in Toronto and Los Angeles.
After seven years at college, Thomas R. "Tommy" Callahan III (Chris Farley) barely graduates from Marquette University and returns to his hometown of Sandusky, Ohio. His father, industrialist, and widower, Thomas R. "Big Tom" Callahan, Jr. (Brian Dennehy), gives him an executive job at the family's auto parts plant, Callahan Auto. In addition to the new job and office, Big Tom reveals that he plans to marry Beverly Barrish-Burns (Bo Derek), a woman he had met at a fat farm, and that her son, Paul (Rob Lowe), will become Tommy's new stepbrother. Tommy is overjoyed at having a new family, and takes a reluctant Paul around town in an attempt to show him a good time. At the wedding, Big Tom suddenly dies of a heart attack. After the funeral, doubting the future of the company without Big Tom, the bank reneges on promises of a loan for a new brake pad division and seeks immediate payment of Callahan Auto's debts. Ray Zalinsky (Dan Aykroyd), owner and operator of another automotive, Zalinsky Auto Parts, offers to buy them out while the company's shares are high, but Tommy suggests a deal: he will let the bank hold his inherited shares and house in exchange for helping the sales of brake pads going. The bank agrees, but they also want the company to prove it still has viability by selling 500,000 brake pads. If they succeed, the bank will grant the loan. Tommy volunteers to go on a cross-country sales trip with his father's sycophantic assistant, Richard Hayden (David Spade), a childhood acquaintance who is annoyed over Tommy's ability to be lazy and yet be rewarded.
Meanwhile, Beverly and Paul are shown kissing romantically. They are not mother and son, but rather married con artisits with criminal records. Instead of eventually getting a divorce and taking half of Big Tom's estate, Beverly has inherited half of the controlling interest in the company. To turn that into cash, she seeks a quick sale to Zalinsky. On the road, Tommy's social anxiety and hyperactivity alienate several potential buyers. The lack of any progress leads to tension between Tommy and Richard. In addition, the duo encounter a variety of incidents that lead to the near destruction of Richard's car. When all seems lost, Tommy persuades a surly waitress to serve him chicken wings after the friers are turned off. Seeing this, Richard realizes that Tommy has the ability to read people, just like his father, and suggests this is how he should sell all the time. The two mend their friendship and start to sell effectively to various automotive plants, eventually putting them over the half million mark. However, Paul sabotages the company's computers, causing sales posted by sales manager Michelle Brock (Julie Warner) to be lost or misrouted. With half of the sales now canceled, the bank, backed by Beverly and Paul, decides to sell Callahan Auto to Zalinsky. Hoping that they can persuade Zalinsky to reconsider, Tommy and Richard travel to Chicago boarding a plane as flight attendants. In Chicago, they get a brief meeting with Zalinsky, but he tells them he only wants Callahan for the reputation, not the employees, and that after sale he will dissolve the company and absorb the production line into his company, leaving Callahan workers unemployed.
Tommy and Richard are denied entrance to the Zalinsky board room since Tommy has no standing. After briefly wallowing on the curb in self-pity, Michelle arrives with Paul and Beverly's police records. Tommy devises 'a plan': dressed as a suicide bomber by using road flares, he attracts the attention of a live television news crew and then, along with Michelle and Richard, forces his way back into the board room. Back in Sandusky, Callahan workers watch the drama on a television In a final move of pure persuasion, Tommy quotes Zalinsky's own advertising slogan, that he is on the side of the "American working man." As the TV audience watches, Zalinsky signs Tommy's purchase order for 500,000 brake pads. Although Zalinsky says that the purchase order is meaningless as he will soon own Callahan Auto, Michelle shows her police records, which includes Paul's outstanding warrants for fraud. Since Beverly is still married to Paul, her marriage to Big Tom was bigamous and therefore never legal. Thus, all of Big Tom's controlling shares actually belong to Tommy, the rightful heir. Since Tommy does not want to sell the shares, the deal with Zalinsky is off and since Tommy still holds Zalinsky's purchase order, the company is saved. Paul attempts to escape, but is arrested. Zalinsky admits that Tommy outplayed him and honors the large sales order. The film ends when Tommy starts his romance with Michelle and is made the president of Callahan Auto.
- Chris Farley as Thomas Tommy Callahan III
- David Spade as Richard Hayden
- Rob Lowe as Paul Barish
- Bo Derek as Beverly Barish-Burns Callahan
- Dan Aykroyd as Ray Zalinsky
- Juile Warner as Michelle Brock
- Brian Dennehy as Thomas Big Thomas Callahan Jr.
- William Patterson Dunlop as R.T.
- Sean McCann as Frank Rittenhauer
- Zach Grenier as Ted Reilly
- James Blendick as Ron Gilmore
- David Hemblen as Archer
- Clinton Turnbull as Young Tommy
- Ryder Britton as Young Richard
- Maria Vacratsis as Helen
- Colin Fox as Ted Nelson
- Jonathan Wilson as Marty
- David Huband as Gas Attendant
Tommy Boy opened as the No. 1 movie in the United States on March 31, 1995, eventually falling out of the Top 20 within seven weeks. Total U.S. box office gross was $32,648,673. Despite being popular with audiences, the film received mixed reviews from critics upon its initial release.
Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Daily News gave "Tommy Boy" a positive review, calling it "sweet natured..." and a "good belly laugh of a movie". Brian Webster of the Online Film Critics Society also received the film positively saying that the film would please Farley fans. Dan Marcucci and Nancy Serougi of Broomfield Enterprise said the film was "Farley at his best", and Scott Weinberg of DVDTalk.com said that it was "pretty damn funny".
Among the negative reviews, Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert wrote: "'Tommy Boy' is one of those movies that plays like an explosion down at the screenplay factory. You can almost picture a bewildered office boy, his face smudged with soot, wandering through the ruins and rescuing pages at random. Too bad they didn't mail them to the insurance company instead of filming them." The film is on Ebert's "Most Hated" list. Caryn James of The New York Times wrote that the film was "the very poor cousin of a dopey Jim Carrey movie. Owen Gleiberman graded the film a "C" on an "A+ to F" scale, and Ken Hanke of Mountain Xpress said that it was "nothing great." Bo Derek was nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress. Rotten Tomatoes rates the film at 44%.
Since its release, some critics have suggested the film is a "cult classic"."Tommy Boy" has also become a very successful video/DVD rental since its release.