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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 35.9%
Average: 7.69%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 0%

2 reviews, 27 user ratings

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Ruthless People
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by Scott Weinberg

"Grade-A black comedy. A truly hilarious film."
5 stars

Early on in Ruthless People, Danny DeVito's character answers a telephone and says "Debbie? No, Debbie can't come to the phone right now. She's got my dick in her mouth." He then hangs up the phone and says "Heh...I love wrong numbers." Now if that isn't one of the funniest lines in movie history, then I'm a clueless bastard.

Ruthless People is simply a hysterical slapstick farce that moves at a frantic pace, features some brilliant twists and showcases some actors who look like they're really having fun! For those movie freaks who are eternally scanning the "New Release" rack, do both of us a favor (three of us if you're married) and rent this movie, whether you've seen it already or not.

Danny DeVito is perhaps funnier than he's ever been before (and certainly since) as Sam Stone, a joyously greedy clothing tycoon. He is married to the vile Barbara, played by Bette Midler at her shrill and shrieking best. As Sam arrives home (to his delightfully tacky house) he discovers that Barbara has been kidnapped! This doesn't really create a problem for Sam, since he was already planning to murder her! Barbara's abduction comes as a blessing in disguise to Sam, and as the police get involved, he takes great pains to prevent a ransom from being delivered. But when Sam becomes a suspect in Barbara's alleged murder, he'll do anything to get her back. Unfortunately, he's already burned a few bridges with the abductors by constantly refusing to show up at the phony ransom drops.

It turns out that Barbara's kidnappers are not only a sweet young couple (played with affable innocence by Judge Reinhold and Helen Slater), but also that their reasons for abducting her are completely justified! To divulge any more would simply steal a lot of fun, so I'll leave it at that. The colorful screenplay by Dale Launer (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and My Cousin Vinny, both enjoyably plot-heavy comedies) offers more than a handful of plot twists, witty wordplay and dirty double-crosses. It helps to pay close attention, as several minor subplots converge at once, including the fates of a hysterically adulterous police commissioner, a smitten sex-kitten and even a homicidal lunatic! Ruthless People even achieves the near-impossible by coming up with a wonderfully satisfying conclusion.

Ruthless People is a gleefully vulgar and adult-oriented comedy that works for more than a few reasons, most notably the fantastic cast. DeVito and Midler and magnificent, and Reinhold and Slater more than hold their own, but a few of the supporting actors really shine. As Sam's devious mistress, Anita Morris almost steals the whole show and Bill Pullman as her moronic boyfriend is consistently amusing.

It's refreshing to see a comedy that is so dark (ie - dealing with death and kidnapping) that's also light at the same time! It's evident from the first ten minutes that Ruthless People is as broad a farce as they come, so the combination of raunchy dialogue, slapstick violence and morbid humor gels perfectly.

Geared strictly for adults (produced by Touchstone AKA Disney, nonetheless!) and directed by the Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker team best known for Airplane! and The Naked Gun, I can easily rank Ruthless People as one of the great American comedies of the 80's. I envy you if you're a fan of comedies, and you have yet to see this, but put the kids to bed first. It's not pornographic or anything, but it's certainly not meant for the kiddies.

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originally posted: 12/09/00 14:47:12
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User Comments

5/10/18 The Big D. Dnny De Vito's the funny one 3 stars
5/08/17 Anne Selby Worth seeing comedy/farce 4 stars
2/05/13 matthew thompson dalldorf Ruthlessly funny! 5 stars
5/20/12 Dane Youssef One of the greatest, painfully and insanely funny comedies I've ever seen. I hurt laughing. 5 stars
12/03/11 Flipsider One of my favorite 80's comedies! 5 stars
12/21/08 Shaun Wallner Devito is Funny! 5 stars
4/08/08 Jack Sommersby Proof what a good screenplay can bring. 4 stars
5/23/06 lisadlamm A true classic. "I've been kidnapped by Kmart!" 5 stars
7/15/05 Tony Brilliant 5 stars
11/19/04 screb cast never were this good again 4 stars
8/25/04 Agent Sands One truly hilarious farce. And, as a fan of crime movies, I LOVE the ending! 5 stars
10/25/03 Al Baston When Danny says "a little poke in the whiskers" & "no because she has my dick in her mouth" 5 stars
10/02/03 JohnnyXXX Terribly dated now, especially the humor, but still funny. 4 stars
5/10/03 Angelique de la Plata screamingly funny, bawdy, wicked film. Loved every microsecond of it! 5 stars
4/03/03 Kermie the legless frog Adolf - eat Muffy and his poodlebombs 5 stars
3/07/03 Charles Tatum Wicked comedy helped by great cast 4 stars
4/08/02 stoolie-bird danny devito is annoying 3 stars
2/20/02 Andrew Carden I Take Back My Past Remark: This Movie Is Awesome. The Cast Is 1-Of-A-Kind. 5 stars
1/12/02 R.W. Welch Clever retake of an O. Henry yarn, may be too acidic for some. 4 stars
10/26/01 Andrew Carden Pretty Funny Movie, but The Beginning Is Really Gross I Think. 4 stars
10/25/01 Boomshanka A great American comedy, but a little on the nasty side. 4 stars
10/24/01 ||Dani::O|| I'd love to high-five Dale Launer for bringing this to us. Oh, yeah. 5 stars
10/13/01 The Impressed Critic The best 80's comedy out of the bunch 5 stars
9/18/01 Butterbean Bette and DeVito were hilarious here! 5 stars
9/06/01 Judith Latham I rememerb how great and funny this movie was and now I feel like seeing it again. 5 stars
6/15/01 Bada Bing Crosby A riot! Clever screenplay, all the actors fun is contagious 5 stars
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  02-Jun-1986 (R)



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