Film and Plot Synopsis
Tommy Callahan Jr. is a slow-witted, clumsy guy who graduates from Marquette University after seven years. His father, Big Tom Callahan, owns an auto parts factory in Ohio. When Tommy arrives back home, he finds he has a position at the factory waiting for him. His dad also introduces Tommy to the new brake pad division of the factory and to Tommy’s soon-to-be stepmother, Beverly, and her son Paul. But when Big Tom dies during his wedding reception, the factory threatens to go under unless the new brake pads are to be sold. Therefore, Tommy must go on the road to sell them, along with the assistance of Richard, Big Tom’s right-hand man. Will Tommy save the company, or will the factory, and the town, go under?
‘Tommy Boy’ Movie Summary
The wedding ceremony goes off without a hitch, but during the reception, Big Tom suddenly dies from a heart attack. The loss of his father leaves a gaping hole in Tommy’s heart, but Big Tom’s death is even more catastrophic to Callahan Auto. The bank reneges on promises of a loan to expand the business into brake pad production and seeks immediate repayment of all of Callahan Auto’s debts. Tommy convinces the bank to hold off on the debt collection in exchange for his Callahan Auto shares and his father’s home, a decision that could potentially leave him penniless. Tommy sets out on the road to sell enough of the new brake pads to prove the new division’s viability. If he sells enough brake pads the bank will approve the loan and Tommy will get to keep his shares and home.
Tommy sets out on the cross-country trip with his childhood frenemy, Richard Hayden (David Spade). Richard has risen in the ranks of Callahan Auto, but has always been in the shadow of the pampered Tommy. Richard considers Tommy stupid and lazy and believes that their sales trip is likely to fail. Meanwhile, it is revealed that Beverly and Paul are not, in fact, mother and son, but rather married con artists with criminal records. The two planned to have Beverly marry Big Tom and then divorce him for half of his estate. However, they are forced to alter their plan after Big Tom’s unexpected death and plan to sell Beverly’s shares of the company to Ray Zalinsky (Dan Aykroyd), the owner of a national auto parts chain of stores. The two realize that if Tommy is successful on his sales trip then their shares are worth far less. Paul sets out to sabotage Tommy’s progress, if he makes any.
Back on the road, Tommy and Richard constantly bicker and fight. They are failing to make any sales and Tommy becomes frustrated. Tommy’s awkwardness alienates several potential buyers who do not see Tommy as the heir apparent to his father. Tommy is ready to call it quits when Richard observes his heavy-set companion convince a surly waitress to serve him after the kitchen has closed at a diner. Richard suggests that Tommy uses his skills of reading people to makes sales. With this new insight, Tommy begins to make some sales and turns things around. The two men become friends and eventually make their sales goal. They begin to head back to Sandusky.
Meanwhile, Paul sabotages the orders for brake pads when he accesses the company’s computers in Tommy’s part-time girlfriend Michelle Brock’s (Julie Warner) office. The sabotage causes many of the orders to cancelled or routed to the wrong place. As a result, half of the sales are cancelled. The bank, along with Beverly and Paul, decide to sell Callahan Auto to Zalinsky. Tommy and Richard head back out on the road again to convince Zalinsky to reconsider. In Chicago, they meet with Zalinsky who tells them that he only wants to buy the Callahan name and plans to shut down the Sandusky plant and lay off all the workers.
Meanwhile, Michelle sees Beverly and her “son” Paul kissing romantically at a town carnival. She conducts her own investigation and learns the con artists true identities, including the fact that they are married. She heads to Chicago to tell Tommy of her discovery. Back in Chicago, Tommy and Richard are denied entrance into Zalinsky’s board room for the signing of the deal to transfer ownership of Callahan Auto. Michelle arrives and tells Tommy and Richard about Beverly and Paul. Tommy comes up with a plan to get into the building by posing as suicide bomber. He convinces a news crew to follow him, Richard, and Michelle into the conference room.
Once in the conference room, he convinces Zalinsky to purchase half a million brake pads from Callahan Auto. Zalinksy doesn’t want to look bad on television and agrees to the deal, knowing that after he signs the paperwork he will own Callahan Auto and is essentially buying from himself. After Zalinksy signs the purchase order, Tommy reveals the true identities of Beverly and Paul. Since they are married, Big Tom’s marriage to Beverly is invalid and thus, she is entitled to no inheritance. Beverly’s shares revert back to Tommy, who then refuses to sell to Zalinsky. With the half million brake pad purchase order in hand, Tommy saves the company and secures the loan from the bank. Paul is arrested after he tries to escape. Zalinsky congratulates Tommy on outplaying him and then invites Beverly to dinner. Upon his return to Sandusky, Tommy is appointed president of Callahan Auto to replace his beloved father.