What’s your favorite line from Tommy Boy? The most quotable comedy this side of Caddyshack is 25-years-old but this buddy-com starring Chris Farley and David Spade, along with Bo Derek, Rob Lowe, Julie Warner, Brian Dennehy and Dan Aykroyd, hasn’t aged a bit.
This Paramount Home Entertainment release is available from Redbox to rent or buy On Demand in a silver anniversary “Holy Schnike” edition. Director Peter Segal spoke with Redbox about filming with only 66 pages of script to start, how to make a deer at home in a 1967 Plymouth Belvedere GTX before he destroys it, and whether Tommy Boy could ever receive a reboot (spoiler alert: NO!)
Redbox: It’s not like you’re David Spade and passersby yell out lines from Tommy Boy to you. When did you become aware that the movie had this great cult following?
Peter Segal: I was watching an NFL game and after a vicious hit, one of the announcers said, ‘Holy Schnike, that’s gonna leave a mark.’ But it wasn’t until the 10-year anniversary when Paramount was putting together a special edition DVD and they were flying crews around the country and interviewing the cast. I asked, ‘Why are you making such a big deal out of this?’ They said it was one of the top 10 bestselling home videos in Paramount history. I asked, ‘You mean with The Godfather and Raiders of the Lost Ark?’ And they said, ‘Yeah.’ I’m like, ‘Holy crap!’ That’s when I realized it had really gotten around.
RB: Was it always a vehicle for Chris Farley and David Spade?
PS: Yes, and it was a big leap of faith for Saturday Night Live and Paramount. At the time, Lorne Michaels’ company was only making movies based on SNL characters. This was an original story. It also came out at a time when SNL’s ratings were not good in spite of the fact that they had one of the best casts of all time with Adam Sandler and Mike Myers.
RB: What do you consider the essence of what made Chris and David such a great team?
PS: A lot of their magic was keyed by their real life relationship. They were best pals. If David said the things to any other person that he said to Chris, he would probably get a punch in the mouth. But it made Chris laugh. Case in point: one day after we were doing a wardrobe test, Chris came out in his iconic brown tweed jacket and said, ‘Does this suit make me look fat?’ David said, ‘No, your face does.” I said, ‘That’s going in the movie.’
RB: Was there a lot of improvisation?
PS: We didn’t have a script when we started. We couldn’t get the movie together properly during the summer hiatus from SNL so we had to commit to shooting in September with whatever we had, and that was only 66 pages. There was the scene at the gas station where Rob Lowe is hosing the mud off of Chris after they tried cow-tipping. The scene wasn’t working and I called (co-writer) Fred Wolf who was back at SNL. I said I needed something and described the setup. He said, ‘Flashdance.’ And I said, ‘Got it.’ That’s how that scene came to be.
RB: Tommy Boy is one of Redbox’s most popular titles. One of our readers had this question: How could you do that to the car?
PS: (Laughs) Well, the crime is I could’ve purchased that car and I didn’t. There were four made. And one we had to donate to the deer wrangler. Because you can’t train a deer, he said, we had to give him one of the cars to put in the deer corral. We had to build a ramp on the back of the car that the deer could walk up whenever it wanted, put a little food in there and allow him to urinate and poop so he could smell himself. That took about a month when one night in the middle of the night we got the shot of the deer standing on the car and jumping off. By that time, I told him, ‘Keep the car.’ By the way, I just got to work with that deer wrangler again on my latest movie, My Spy. He said he was the deer guy on Tommy Boy. I said, ‘I talk about you all the time.’
RB: I think my favorite scene may be where Chris and David sing the Carpenters’ “Superstar.” Do you have a favorite?
PS: The Carpenters is a great one because it was a big risk. We had built the elaborate driving stunts around that scene, so if that song and moment didn’t work and the audience didn’t laugh, we would have had to cut the scene from the movie.
RB: Here’s another question from our readers. Do you think there could be a Tommy Boy reboot and who would you cast?
PS: That’s a good question. I have no idea. I don’t think anyone had the kind of relationship with Farley that David had. So you have to find two guys who in real life share that kind of friendship and camaraderie. One has to be the vinegar and the other has to be the sugar. Good luck casting that one.
RB: You said guys. What about women?
PS: It could very well be. Someone actually did pitch “Tommy Girl” as a follow-up.
RB: For real?
RB: How far did that get?
PS: That’s where it died. But you never know.