Throw Momma from the Train (1987)

God, I even wanted to throw that momma from the train!

When struggling mystery writer Owen (Danny DeVito) realizes that he and his teacher, Larry (Billy Crystal), are both slowly going crazy thanks to the women in their lives, he gets a great idea: He’ll kill Larry’s devious ex-wife if Larry offs Owen’s domineering, overbearing mother. Expect classic black comedy after Owen fulfills his end of the bargain — and Larry’s stuck without an alibi!

The film takes inspiration from the Hitchcock classic film Strangers On A Train, where the perfect murder is where 2 complete strangers exchange murder victims.

The film acts like a black comedy, but isn’t all that dark at points. Yeah, it talks about murder and death, which is a dark subject, but many of the other things that happen or joked about aren’t very dark.

With this film you would expect to have been hilarious, when really its only slightly funny. Some jokes seem forced, and some are just too obvious and not very funny after all. It doesn’t have that hilarious satirical look, and feel you would expect from a film of this nature.

Instead, we get a lot of these little whimsical tales, which I thought were the best parts of the film. DeVito does a great job at directing showing himself as this pathetic young kid, who still cannot seem to get any respect from his mama. At times, the film played as it was more cute than it was more dark.

The cast does an OK job as playing their respective parts. Crystal, who I admire, is all around the place screamin, yelling, and just going insane over nothing and doesn’t make any sense in this performance. DeVito does a great job at playing this child-like man who you actually do feel pity for. But the best here is Anne Ramsey who plays Momma. She is so ruthless, and cranky that it is actually where a lot of the comedic element for this film comes from.

Consensus: DeVito’s directorial debut is impressive with some funny moments and OK performances from the cast, but doesn’t have enough humor, and has Crystal acting as a madman for no reason.


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