“Tommy Boy”

Certain peculiar kinds of genius can transcend genre mediocrity. “Tommy Boy,” a thoroughly mediocre (in concept) idea from Lorne Michaels and the SNL team, gains immortality simply because Chris Farley is in it. He is so damn funny, in practically everything he does, that all the filmmakers need to do is put him in appropriate situations. Give Farley an excuse to go apeshit and he will, hilariously.

Give him a small jacket, and he’ll sing a funny song and snap the jacket in half. Give him a mechanical hook, and he’ll perform karate moves on it until he falls over. His motor never runs out.

The film treads water in convention: bad sexual puns, a glowering villain, and a plot you can see coming a mile away. But Chris Farley lights the screen on fire. He turns countless dull jokes into chuckles. He is an exuberant entertainer. Even his laugh, a giddy cresting yelp, makes me fold in amusement. Hanging out with him in real life must have been impossible.

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