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Blast from the Past Movie Review – “Throw Momma from the Train” (1987)

August 1, 2011

This summer when I saw “Horrible Bosses”, the dark-comedy where Jason Bateman, Jason Sudekis, and Charlie Day all plan to kill each others bosses, there was a reference made in the movie about this 1987 comedy classic that left me in stiches, yet others didn’t seem to laugh, so naturally I felt like this movie deserves a Blast from the Past review. “Throw Momma From The Train” is the feature directoral debut from Danny DeVito, which pairs him with the audience favorite, Billy Crystal.

The plot, similar to, borrows, & pays a homage, to Alfred Hitchcock’s “Strangers on a Train”, revolves around two schmucks who are stuck in the position of killing one anothers persons they want to see dead. While this sounds morbid, dark, & disturbing, and believe me it does, the comedy is magically brought to life in such sore subject matter.

When bitter ex-husband & novelist, Larry (Crystal) discovers that his bitch of a wife stole his novel, claimed it as her own, and made it into a mega success, Larry has one thing on his mind…how much he would love to see her drop dead. A momma’s boy named Owen (DeVito) still lives with is grouchy mother (Anne Ramsey), she humilates Owen to the upmost extent, what does he want to do? Kill her. Both want their respective spouse and mother dead, but who will pull it off? There paths cross, as Larry teaches a fictional writing class which Owen, attends. There Owen learns about how murder stories are written, how motives are created, and he sees “Strangers on a Train”, the idea of killing one anothers persons inspires Owen to approach Larry about doing the deed.

I love a good dark comedy, especially when it’s done by Danny DeVito, even though this his first film, his track record is pretty solid; “War of the Roses”“Matilda”“Death to Smoochy”. I love them all, and the same dark feel is seen in this movie. The writing is solid, by making an ‘already done’ plot fresh and original should be an inspiration for writers everywhere. Barry Sonnfeild’s cinematography is strange and bizarre, but what he brings to the audience attention plays as another character for the film.

Billy & Danny’s chemistry is an odd, but perfect pairing, and will leave a smile on your face. Danny plays Owen in a sort of sweet innocence, yet still finds a way to creep the viewer out. Billy is classic Billy, nothing to it for him. But, the real scene stealer is Anne Ramsey as Momma. She is a scream, I can’t think of anyone as grouchy as she is. It’s pure comedy gold. The climax itself maybe a little anti-climactic, but it works in the movies favor.

If you haven’t seen “Throw Momma from the Train”, see it now. It’s just one of those great comedy classics you don’t want to miss out on. Plus, if it gets an honorable mention in“Horrible Bosses”, then it must be doing something right.


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