Tommy Boy appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Much of the picture looked very good, but enough minor problems manifested themselves to create a few distractions.
Sharpness mainly worked well. A smidgen of softness crept into some wider shots, but those remained minor. The majority of the flick looked concise and accurate. No shimmering or jaggies showed up, and only a little edge enhancement became apparent. As for source flaws, I noticed a occasional examples of specks and marks, but these weren’t too prominent.
Colors were acceptable but not better than that. At times, they took on nice signs of brightness and definition. However, they also could be a bit flat and drab. Some of that stemmed from the production design, as Midwestern factories don’t lend themselves to vivid tones. Too many daytime outdoors shots looked a little bland for me to chalk it all up to photographic choices, though. Black levels appeared deep and rich, while shadow detail was decent. A few shots seemed somewhat dense, but mostly the low-light images were appropriately delineated. This transfer worked pretty well as a whole.
As for the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Tommy Boy, it seemed fine but it didn’t excel because of a lack of ambition. Like most comedies, the movie featured a limited soundfield that strongly favored the forward channels. It showed very nice stereo spread to the music as well as some general ambience from the sides.
Panning was decent, and the surrounds usually kicked in basic reinforcement. A few scenes opened up better, though, especially in the factory. Heck, a couple of sequences even offered some pretty solid split surround material. These were the exceptions to the rule, however, as most of the movie stayed with limited imaging.
Audio quality appeared good for the most part. Speech was natural and distinct, with no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Effects sounded clean and accurate, with good fidelity and no signs of distortion. Music was the weakest link, as the score and songs lacked much heft. They were perfectly clear, but the absence of notable bass response made them sound a bit tepid. This track was good enough for a “B-“ but didn’t particularly impress.
Paramount previously released Tommy Boy as a barebones DVD in 1999 that included only a trailer. Six years later, they’ve finally given the flick a full special edition. Called the “Holy Schnike Edition”, this one offers a mix of extras across its two platters.
On DVD One, we find an audio commentary from director Peter Segal. He offers a running, screen-specific chat. Segal discusses locations and shooting in Toronto, script and title changes, working with Farley and Spade, the influences for various gags, the score, crafting the conclusion, and general production notes. Segal presents a reasonable amount of good information about the film and gives us a pretty nice overview of things. However, he goes silent too much of the time. There’s a moderate level of dead air, and that makes things drag. There’s enough quality material to make this worth a listen, though.
The first disc also opens with some ads. We find promos for Airplane, “The John Wayne Collection”, MacGyver, George Lopez: Why You Crying?, The Warriors and the 1974 version of The Longest Yard.
Heading to DVD Two, we start with Tommy Boy: Behind the Laughter. This 29-minute and six-second featurette includes a mix of movie clips, shots from the set, and interviews. We hear from Segal, associate producer Michael Ewing, producer Lorne Michaels, executive producer Robert K. Weiss, editor William Kerr, writer Fred Wolf, actors David Spade, Rob Lowe, Bo Derek, Julie Warner and Brian Dennehy. We learn about the roots of the project and the connection between Spade and Chris Farley, the inexperience of many on the shoot, development of the script, scheduling complications related to Saturday Night Live, Segal’s style, Farley’s impact on the production and his character, and casting and the work of other actors, and the movie’s impact.
Inevitably, some fluffiness emerges during the show. However, it includes a pretty good collection of stories and notes about making the flick. We also get a surfeit of nice behind the scenes footage that presents plenty of outtakes and other fun moments. “Laughter” is a solid program.
In Stories from the Side of the Road, we get a 13-minute and 30-second piece. It includes remarks from Segal, Spade, Lowe, Wolf, Kerr, Weiss, and cinematographer Victor J. Kemper. Anecdotal in nature, this show covers the development and shooting of many of the movie’s most memorable bits. Among others, we learn how they came up with gags like the Flashdance spoof and “Fat Guy In a Little Coat” as well as the issues connected with shooting the deer and cow-tipping scenes. Some of this repeats from the commentary, but we get a lively and informative look at the flick’s creative moments.
Another featurette called Just the Two of Us appears next. It goes nine minutes, 46 seconds and presents comments from Spade, Segal, Derek, Warner, Lowe, Wolf, brothers Kevin and John Farley and actor Dan Aykroyd. As implied by the title, this one covers the Spade/Farley relationship. We hear about their connection and get stories about their work together. These include some fun tales like their spat over Rob Lowe. “Two” fits in well with the other programs and provides a nice glimpse of the Farley/Spade dynamic.
For the final featurette, we find Growing Up Farley. It fills seven minutes, 29 seconds with notes from Kevin and John Farley as well as Michaels, Segal, Wolf and Spade. We mostly hear about Farley’s childhood behavior, though we also get some information about his start in show business. The remarks from the Farley brothers are surprisingly unsentimental – they may Chris sound like a really obnoxious kid – and this program lacks the goopiness I expect from retrospectives about the deceased. That’s a good thing, and the tone helps make the piece reasonably useful.
Scads of cut footage appears on this DVD. We find five Deleted Scenes (six minutes, 52 seconds), six Alternate Takes (4:27), and 15 Extended Scenes (22:33). Peter Segal offers introductions for all the “Deleted Scenes” that tell us why he cut the sequences. Those segments are the most interesting of the bunch since they don’t have any siblings in the final cut. The “Extended” clips have some good moments, though they mostly show footage we’ve already seen. Similarly, the “Alternate” stuff resembles material in the finished film, but they’re enjoyable since they provide fairly raw shots. Plus, we get a couple more seconds of full nudity from the pool skinny-dipper; that alone is worth the price of admission.
Seven Storyboard Comparisons run 14 minutes and two seconds. These offer the drawings in the top half of the frame and the final film footage in the bottom. I’m not a huge fan of this kind of material, but this section is well-executed and fairly fun to see, partially because the storyboards include a lot of stage directions and other information.
Plenty of ads show up as well. In addition to the film’s trailer, we discover 19 TV Spots. A Gag Reel lasts four minutes, 16 seconds. It’s better than usual since it includes some improvised bits and other wacky moments. Finally, a Photo Gallery features 49 shots from the film and the set. Few of them seem interesting.
One of the stronger movies to come from former Saturday Night Live performers, Tommy Boy gives us an entertaining piece. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel to do anything unexpected or remarkable, but it also avoids the traps that often make SNL alumni flicks feel like little more than collections of skits. Tommy exists as a full, integrated movie, and a fun one at that. The DVD presents pretty positive picture and audio along with a very nice collection of supplements. Top all that off with a very reasonable list price of under $20 and I definitely recommend this fine DVD.