20 Years Later: Were We Dumb For Loving ‘Tommy Boy?’

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Tommy Boy is one of those movies I watched roughly 1200 times growing up, and its mention always puts a dumb smile on my face while I remember my stupid childhood. I want to believe I love it because it’s objectively good, but let’s face it, for all the heated arguments over which SNL cast was the best, yours is virtually guaranteed to be whoever was on when you were 12 or 13 (provided that wasn’t the Joe Piscopo year, you poor son of a bitch). Farley? Awesome. Dan Aykroyd? Eh. That’s what I believe, along with 90 percent of Gen Y.

Tommy Boy, in addition to being Chris Farley’s coming out party, also had the benefit endless airplay on cable, repeat viewings that make a film seem more memorable and allow you to sort of check in and out on your own time and focus on your favorite parts, without holding anything that doesn’t work against it too much like you might if you were watching it in a theater. The Shawshank Redemption accounted for 151 hours of basic cable in 2013, and it’s the highest rated movie on IMDB. Coincidence? Doubtful. It’s a great movie, but it’s Ted Turner who kept reminding us.

I’ll always love Tommy Boy, but I also want to believe I’m more than just a gullible demographic, a slave to circumstance. I know what the haters had to say, and I want to be honest with myself – whether that means sticking to my guns or putting childish things away. So, on the 20th anniversary of Tommy Boy‘s release (which was yesterday, I couldn’t quite finish this in time), I gave it a rewatch to see if I could separate quality from nostalgia, virtue from repeatability.

Arguments Against Tommy Boy Being Great

That score. Oh God, that score. Remember in the 90s, when every comedy movie had to have horrible, cheesy, overbearing music in every scene? The music in Tommy Boy is even more aggressive than in Liar Liar (another movie I love, incidentally), a benchmark in over-scored comedies. For just a small taste, check out how it switches to sexy sax music during the Bo Derek pool scene, just to make sure that the audience knows that the woman emerging from the pool in slow motion is meant to be sexy.

Now, I call this an argument against, but it’s just as much an explanation – there’s a lot of Tommy Boy that probably would’ve come off less cheesy to critics at the time if the scene in question didn’t have the 90s equivalent of Yakety Sax blaring through the whole thing.