Monday, May 2, 2016

Throw Momma from the Train (1987)

Director: Danny DeVito

Writer: Stu Silver

Composer: David Newman

Starring: Danny DeVito, Billy Crystal, Kim Greist, Anne Ramsey, Kate Mulgrew, Branford Marsalis, Rob Reiner, Bruce Kirby, Joey DePinto, Annie Ross, Raye Birk, Oprah Winfrey

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Owen asked his friend, Larry, for a small favor...

Plot: Larry Donner is an author and writing professor who tutors people that want to write books. Larry's life has become a misery when his ex-wife Margaret has published a book he wrote under her name and has gotten rich over it. Owen Lift, one of Larry's students, offers Larry to kill Margaret, and in return Owen, wants Larry to kill his horrible mother. Larry thinks it's a joke, until he learns Owen killed his ex-wife. And Larry has now become the prime suspect.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

It's been nearly thirty years since I saw this and it's held up nicely.   The casting is perfect, especially with Anne Ramsey as Mama.  She was born for the role.  DeVito hits the right beats of a simple man, straddling that line of being sympathetic and sad.  And Crystal is the wisecracker that's forced to deal with a serious predicament.  If you don't laugh as much as you'd expect (or want), it's probably because the expectations are high considering the cast but it's still an often funny movie.  David Newman's score has some great Hitchcockian moments that bring some cool from an unexpected source.  The MGM Contemporary Classics DVD serves up the film with a nice anamorphic widescreen print.  The extras are lean but you get four deleted scenes and the theatrical trailer (anamorphic widescreen).  I'm surprised DeVito didn't do a commentary track on this one as he's done with his other pictures.  Love that guy's work and his commentaries are enthusiastic, informative and entertaining.

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