Stupid is apparently in, so Paramount stands a good chance of attracting a solid share of the low-I.Q. demographic with this latest “Saturday Night Live”-derived comedy, which, plotwise, is practically an instant sequel to “Billy Madison.” Chris Farley’s first star turn is loaded with fat jokes, excrement gags and other banality, but also offers more goofy charm than most of its recent brethren — which is to say, not much.
Using many of the same ingredients found in “Wayne’s World”– including writers Bonnie and Terry Turner, as well as an uncredited villainous turn by Rob Lowe — producer Lorne Michaels goes back to the “Saturday Night Live” trough, with reasonably predictable results.
As in “Billy Madison,” the title character is a perennial screw-up and borderline moron who must find himself, at least to a degree, in order to salvage a claim to his rich father’s business.
In this case, however, toss in a “Planes, Trains & Automobiles” riff, as the dad (Brian Dennehy) — an auto parts magnate — soon drops out of the picture, leaving Tommy (Farley) and an officious assistant (David Spade) to hit the road together trying to generate enough sales to prevent Dad’s widow (Bo Derek) from selling the business out from under them. The stakes, in fact, are actually higher, since the plant closing will ruin the town.
Farley’s Tommy, who took seven years to graduate from college with a D average, and
Spade’s Richard generate some amusing moments as they trash the latter’s car, croon Carpenters tunes together and, in what’s actually one of the funnier scenes, interrupt at least one effort at, well, self-gratification.
Some of that junior high school humor and energy makes “Tommy Boy” almost bearable, although the unimaginative script and Peter Segal’s inconsistent direction — trying to mix some rather tender moments with decidedly lowbrow comedy — never quite approach the higher regions of the dumb-guy genre.
For starters, there must be 200 fat jokes — to the point where one has to wonder what else, if anything, Farley is perceived to offer. His dialogue doesn’t help much — his responses of “Cool!” and “Awesome!” to most any event grow tiresome.
Most of the movie centers on Farley and Spade’s mismatched travelogue, with what amount to cameos by Dennehy, Derek, Lowe and Dan Aykroyd, the latter playing a smarmy chain store owner seeking to buy Tommy’s company. Julie Warner proves properly spunky as Farley’s potential love interest, a woman obviously not plagued by unreasonable standards.
Tech credits get better grades than the protagonist, other than some choppy editing and David Newman’s overbearing score. As in “Wayne’s World,” pic is at its head-bobbing best when it turns the soundtrack over to an eclectic song list , ranging from “Come on Eileen” to “Eres Tu.”