It's not uncommon to be flipping through channels on a Saturday and seeing lots of movies, especially comedies that have aged well after a decade or two.
Last weekend, Comedy Central was playing a few of them. First, Billy Madison, Sandler's first feature film (when Sandler's style of comedy was liked) and in-between another well-known (and liked) Sandler film, Happy Gilmore, was Tommy Boy.
The 1995 movie, starring Chris Farley and David Spade, is a cult classic. It's one of the few movies I can grab a random quote from, and use in a conversation, usually to make a joke. When that person or persons gets the reference and laughs, it's worth it.
Now, that airing of Tommy Boy was on December 9, which made me think to when Farley died at the age of 33.
Farley's death came on December 18, 1997: 20 years ago today.
The comedian, who once sang "I'm a clown, but I cry" on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, was an incredible comedic and physical talent whose demons led to his accidental overdose in Chicago.
Of all the movies he did in his short life, Tommy Boy remains my favorite and I would imagine many others feel the same way.
I was 12 or 13 when I first saw Tommy Boy. My dad had it on VHS (it was circa 2001 or 2002 so VCR's were still around). But my love of the movie grew as I got a little older.
Every year since the mid 1980s, my dad, his brothers and my grandfather have traveled out to South Bend, Indiana for a Notre Dame football game. My grandfather, who is now 94, owned one of those old Dodge Ram vans that featured the wood paneling, nice roomy seats and a television with the antenna and VCR.
After Tommy Boy came out, the movie joined the catalog of movies they would watch during the long car ride from Pennsylvania.
As I got older, I started going on the trip and a few of my cousins started going, too when the Dodge Ram van was still around. I still remember the first time Tommy Boy was put in the VCR. It felt like a weird right-of-passage.
Also, if you travel from Pittsburgh to South Bend, you pass the exit for Sandusky, Ohio, so everyone got a kick out of that a few hours into the trip.
So why do I like this movie so much and why I am I dwelling on it 20 years to the day its star died far too young?
When I think of Chris Farley, I like to think Tommy Callahan III (along with his "Chris Farley Show' SNL sketch) was the character most like the real Farley: a "people-person" with faults, but would sacrifice everything for others. It's the old cliche of "the lovable loser", but its a character most can relate to, and I want to believe Tommy was a reflection of Farley.
Not to sound sappy, but the family aspect of the movie where Tommy wants to make his dad proud after his death and keep Callahan Auto hits home for me as a guy who comes from a big Irish family on my dad's side.
The old "what if" scenario came to mind when thinking of his death. What if he finally got serious about getting sober for good? (Here's a fan's theory)
We probably see him play Fatty Arbuckle in a biopic, voice Shrek and star in a few of the Sandler movies that have come out in the last 20 years (and maybe make them a little better).
I'm just glad Tommy Boy was a thing and will always be my best memory of Chris Farley.
So here are some of my favorite Tommy Boy moments (in no particular order)
"The Original Brake Pad Pitch"
I learned this whole scene after the watching the movie a few times.
I don't know what's funnier: When he lights the model on fire, or when he goes "here comes the meat wagon" and starts making the alien siren sound. At that point, Richard and the guy they're trying to sell to looked shocked. I would imagine it took a few takes for everyone to keep a straight face.
Honorable Mention: Tommy asking to have parking validated after being kicked out.
I have come upon blown out truck tires while driving, and I always think about how Callahan brake pads would keep me safe.
The only scene with Farley and Rob Lowe together. Also, before they go cow tipping, Tommy said one thing they could do in Sandusky is "go to the livestock auction and cruise the 4-H babes".
I've lived in Oklahoma for the last 16 months, and that joke is funnier now than when I first saw the movie
"Fat Guy in a Little Coat"
A bit originally done by Farley for Spade in their SNL office, this might be the most memorable moment from the film.
The outtake from the blooper is just as funny when Farley cant get the jacket to rip.
"Tommy Want Wingy"
What was the turning point of the film, Richard realizes Tommy is a "people person" type of salesman after convincing a waitress to make chicken wings in a pitch of self-loathing.
"Your sail is limp, like your d***!"
Kids are the worst. Especially in this scene.
We got from Big Tom's funeral and Farley walking alone and sitting on the loading dock at the auto plant, contemplating what will come next.
This scene is a good way to remind you that it's still a comedy. The kids hurl every insult at Tommy until he finally snaps and threatens them, and as kids their age, they don't take him seriously, until Michelle puts the fear of God into them. Definitely unexpected when you watch it the first time.
"Hey! Thanks Dad!"
A nice way for the movie to end. Tommy sitting in his boat, talking to his father having a nice moment. He gets the wind for his sail, and it also happens to hit him right in the back of the head.