Thursday, July 20, 2017

Ruthless People (1986) [R]

Director:  Jim Abrahams, David Zucker & Jerry Zucker
Writer:  Dale Launer
Danny DeVito  as Sam Stone
Bette Midler as Barbara Stone
Judge Reinhold as Ken Kessler
Helen Slater as Sandy Kessler
Anita Morris as Carol Dodsworth
Bill Pullman as Earl Mott

Synopsis: A greedy husband who is planning on killing his wife, thinks his prayers are answered when his wife is kidnapped and held for ransom. However, things don't go quite as planned.

Acting:  20/20

Writing:  30/40
Directing/Editing/Production/Etc:  38/40

Overall:  88/100 B+

Review: Danny DeVito and Bette Midler really get a chance to showcase their talents in this film. Whenever either one is on the screen, they immediately grab your attention with the way that they completely give themselves over to these roles.  The delivery of their lines are perfect, and the nuances of facial expression and body language from both actors are exemplary examples of how to take comedy to a higher level.

Judge Reinhold and Helen Slater, as the kidnappers. also perform true to their characters and provide solid performances. In addition, Anita Morris and Bill Pullman add great entertainment values with their own characters. Bill Pullman, particularly, does a phenomenal job with his character.

As far as the comedic part of this script goes, I have to give it an A+. This film is so clever and the jokes never stop hitting the mark. From the abundance of witty lines to the comical situations and the many scenes that intertwine the two, this film is well worth the watch. Some of the jokes were so direct and biting - but hilarious - I doubt they'd be used in a similar comedy in today's time.

That being said, there were some choices in the script that took away from the film.

Spoiler Alert! 
The biggest plot hole was the fact that the kidnappers were able to pull off their intelligent and elaborate scheme at the end of the film, yet had been so easily deceived by DeVito's character which "triggered" the kidnapping in the first place. This took away from the ending of the film.

In addition, the ending scene of Bette Midler's character joining the couple on the beach with the 3 of them "going off into the sunset", after pushing DeVito's character off of the Santa Monica pier, was a very odd choice. Barbara was established as a very nasty character and while it can be said that her husband used her and maybe she gained weight from being so unhappy, she didn't get any nicer at the end of the film; There was no change in heart for her. So it was a bit odd that she lost 20 pounds, took her husband's money and walked off into the sunset without having to pay for her "ruthless" character, as others did in the film, but getting rewarded for it instead. Not sure if it was saying women can/do/should get away with that stuff or what the message there was?

Furthermore, another plot hole was the fact that Anita Morris' character had her picture with Sam published in the newspaper (after the photos were found by the police) yet she wasn't contacted by the police, nor did she make any note of her picture being in the newspaper and even went on to keep "blackmailing" the police chief. This was odd, though the situation and lines used here were hilarious.
End of Spoiler Alert!

The beginning of the film starts with an animation sequence that lasts for about 2:35. It's not exactly the most enticing introduction and in modern times, could be seen as kind of cheesy. Aside from that, the flow and pace of the film were flawless and the editing and production etc. warrant no complaints.

Overall this film is a really great comedy that delivered laughs throughout the entire film. A very fun watch!

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