Sometimes a movie just needs to be funny in order to work. Ruthless People is one of those movies. It’s just flat-out amusing. It’s aggressively ridiculous, thickly plotted with nearly every story strand getting strong pay-off, and the performances are priceless, especially Danny DeVito as a mean-spirited husband who wants to have his obnoxious wife (Bette Midler) killed. But when she’s kidnapped, he just decides to simply NOT pay the ransom – BOOM! – she’s gone! But not so fast. I won’t say anything more than that, as this is one of those little comedies that many people likely haven’t seen, or even thought of, in many years, and I was totally taken by surprise over how off the wall and nasty much of it is, with the directing team of David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker doing tonally perfect work in conjunction with Dale Launer’s full-bodied and inventive script. And again – there’s SO much pay-off, with all of the peripheral characters getting a chance to shine, and you’ve got Jan De Bont POWER behind the camera and young Helen Slater hotness. Shot for $9 million and grossing over $70 million in 1986, I’m really glad I caught up with this one, as it definitely did the trick.
Review by Nick Clement