Sunday, November 24, 2013

Throw Momma From the Train (1987)

Throw Momma From the TrainReally, how can you go wrong? Billy Crystal and Danny Devito in their primes. I still hear the old lady's voice in my head whenever I hear the name Owen. This movie is hysterical, both in situational and physical comedy. Devito and Crystal made a good team, it would have been nice to see them work on another film together. Owen's mother is played by the same woman who played Mama Fratelli in the Goonies. A great character actress, she makes you hate her as soon as she makes her entrance. Devito is wonderful in his portrayal of an immature man who stills lives with his mother and can't seem to stand up on his own. Crystal plays one of his classic type roles, similar to the Albert Brooks characters, the whiny and frustrated average Joe. A very fun dark comedy, one that every comedy fan should own.

Despite the dark story that lurks behind the comedy in this film it is entirely entertaining from beginning to end.

Larry (Billy Crystal) is a creative writing teacher with a class full of inept writers. He is divorced from a woman (Kate Mulgrew) who has taken his novel and "written" it herself and is now receiving all the glory. Larry is stewing. One of Larry's students, Owen (Danny DeVito), becomes obsessed with a murder mystery he is working on and he follows Larry around hoping for a moment of his attention. Owen has issues....his Momma (Anne Ramsey). The fun begins with a mistaken clue being taken by Owen to mean that he and Larry should criss-cross their anger and murder one another's nemesis and it all leads to a completely amusing journey into the dark part of a suffering mind.

Danny DeVito is the king of black comedy and here he stars and directs with a talented ability to find humor in the darkest desires. Along with Billy Crystal they complete a madcap comedy duo in search of some relief from those who taunt their insecurities. The stand out talent in this film is of course Anne Ramsey, who as Momma, will make you roar with stupid poop! For you writers out there this movie takes a great look at the inevitable block that stares us in the face every now and then. Get ready to laugh and store this classic close at hand to re-watch time and again when your own heart feels a little heavy and you need a dose of Momma to ease the pain.

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Absolutely hilarious from the beginning to the end! Billy Crystal plays a creative writing instructor who has writer's block. He also has an ex-wife who has just published a best seller. His best seller. He is frustrated with the writer's block, furious with his ex-wife for stealing his book and being driven insane by the pathetic stories coming through his creative writers class (i.e. 40 yards of Nawgahide and a Dream the story of an upholsterer).

Danny DeVitto is a slow witted man in about his late thirties or early forties living with his mother who is always yelling at him and being generally disgusting. He is aspiring to be a writer and is taking Crystal's college class. When Crystal tries to explain motive to DeVitto by sending him to see a Hitchcock Film, he sets loose an imaginative and resourceful streak in DeVitto, who gets from the Hitchcock film (Strangers on a Train) that Crystal has offered to set up a reciprocal killing Crystal would kill his mother if DeVitto killed his wife.

Without realizing what DeVitto is thinking and without having an opportunity to explain the concept of an alibi, Crystal's life is turned upside down as he is put on the run from the law and the only one he can turn to is DeVitto who expects him to kill his mother.

Read Best Reviews of Throw Momma From the Train (1987) Here

I didn't expect to really like this movie all that much. At times I find DeVito to be rather over-the-top, and not in a good way. I also am not a biggest fan of Billy Crystal either. I actually find him rather dull a lot of the times (aside from his stellar work in `When Harry Met Sally'). Really, I'm not sure why I truly wanted to see this movie. Knowing that it was inspired by the Hitchcock film `Strangers on a Train' was incentive I guess, but since my personal opinion of that movie has lowered since seeing it I guess really the only reason I sat down to watch this comedy was that it has been lauded as truly worth the time.

Yes, `Throw Momma from the Train' is supposed to be really funny.

So, it's safe to say I wasn't expecting much. I think at times that is the best way to walk into a film; without high expectations. That way, when the film bombs at your feet you're not left disappointed. It also works the other way, because when the film excels you are truly surprised and very appreciative.

I think you can tell by the five-star review that this movie excelled, at least for me.

Larry is a Writing Teacher who is tormented by his ex-wife who has stolen his novel and published it as her own. She is ruining his life, his career, his name and he cannot take it anymore, despite pleas from his current girlfriend to just let it go. One of his students, the not so bright Owen, has a similar problem; his mother. She is overbearing, condescending and just plain gross. She is ruining his life and he cannot take it anymore. That's when Owen proposes a solution, an absurd solution, that Larry wants nothing to do with.

But Owen takes it upon himself to set his plan in motion.

Believe it or not, DeVito and Crystal make a dynamic team, hilarious from beginning to end. They feed off one another wonderfully, playing to each others strengths in order to create a great comedic duo. DeVito is a surprisingly adept director. Between this achievement and his stellar work on `The War of the Roses' I must say that I am impressed with his comedic technique. He knows how to develop a strong emotion core to secrete his comedic focus and engage the audience in more than just a string of gags. Both films are strong examples of how to make an engaging and intelligent dramedy.

Stealing the show here is Anne Ramsey, who just delivers one of the funniest performances in recent memory. She is hard to look at, hard to listen to; she's even hard to stomach but the fact remains that she's impossible to forget.

In the end I highly recommend this film. It is a surprisingly effective reimagining of the prose originally written by Patricia Highsmith and serves as a very entertaining comedy that will bring loads of laughs and smiles.

Want Throw Momma From the Train (1987) Discount?

We all have certain movies that we inexplicably never tire of watching. That's not to say that we consider these films to be among the best ever made, but that they're just one of our favorite movies. THROW MOMMA FROM THE TRAIN is one of those for me, and I can't quite pinpoint why.

The story focuses on two men: there's Larry (Billy Crystal, at his neurotic best), a novelist who is having severe writer's block (he's been on "The night was..." on the 1st page since July) after his ex-wife Margaret (Kate Mulgrew) stole his masterpiece and made a fortune off of it; and Owen (director Danny DeVito), a 40-year-old man trapped in a child's body (not a short joke, by the way) who lives with his monstrous mother (Anne Ramsey, nominated for an Oscar for her outlandish performance) and daydreams about doing her in. Owen takes a writing class, taught by Larry, at the local community college, and soon the two strike up a friendship of sorts (that is to say, Owen asks Larry for writing advice by constantly following him everywhere). Larry tells Owen that the story he wrote for class, "Murder at My Friend Harry's," fails because it has 2 characters, one killing the other, with neither having a motive nor an alibi (which are key to a murder). He tells Owen to look to Hitchcock, and Owen does just that, watching STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (which this of course takes plot points from) and concocting a scheme that he thinks Larry was hinting towards: Owen will kill Margaret, and in turn, Larry will kill Owen's mother; that way, both men have killed a total stranger (no motive) and will each have been elsewhere when the murder of the person they hate happens (alibi). Owen, being not too bright, does his part before telling Larry, and now Larry has no alibi and must stay low with Owen, being told he must kill Owen's mother (and then Owen will turn himself in, I think) or else go to jail for a long, long time.

If you think I gave it all away, don't worry. Most of that is in the synopsis, and besides, you probably already know how it will all end up (this is a comedy; a dark one, sure, but nowhere near as dark as DeVito's later efforts). There's also a tepid romance with Larry and fellow teacher Beth (Kim Greist), but the film sparkles when DeVito and Crystal are together. This may not be CITIZEN KANE, but I could watch this movie everyday. Why, I don't know. But if you haven't seen this movie, please do so, and maybe it'll have the same effect.

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