Review: ‘Throw Momma from the Train’

"Throw Momma from the Train" is a fun and delightfully venal comedy. Very clever and engaging from beginning to end, pic builds on the notion that nearly everyone - at least once in life - has the desire to snuff out a relative or nemesis, even if 99.9% of us let the urge pass without ever acting on it.

“Throw Momma from the Train” is a fun and delightfully venal comedy. Very clever and engaging from beginning to end, pic builds on the notion that nearly everyone – at least once in life – has the desire to snuff out a relative or nemesis, even if 99.9% of us let the urge pass without ever acting on it.

Here, it’s the idle death threats of a frustrated writer and flunky junior college professor (Billy Crystal) against his ex-wife that are overheard by one of his dimwitted and very impressionable students (Danny DeVito).

DeVito’s limited creative abilities are further stifled by his crazy, overbearing momma (Anne Ramsey), a nasty, jealous old bag whom he loathes and fears. He seeks out Crystal for help on his writing and instead is told to go see Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train, which he does – coming away with a ridiculous scheme on the film’s plot to kill Crystal’s wife and then ask for a like favor in return.

Crystal’s talent as a standup comic comes through as it appears he got away with a fair amount of ad-libbing. His tirades on his ex-wife, a routine he does several times, get funnier with each delivery and are a good counterbalance for DeVito’s equally comical dumb-impish schtick.

If there were to be a first place prize for scene stealing, however, it would to to Ramsey, whose horrible looks and surly demeanor are sick and humorous at the same time.

1987: Nomination: Best Supp. Actress (Anne Ramsey)

Throw Momma from the Train

Production

Orion. Director Danny DeVito; Producer Larry Brezner; Screenplay Stu Silver; Camera Barry Sonnenfeld; Editor Michael Jablow; Music David Newman; Art Director Ida Random

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1987. Running time: 88 MIN.

With

Danny DeVito Billy Crystal Anne Ramsey Kim Greist Kate Mulgrew Annie Ross
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