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Throw Momma From the Train


In 1987, between "Running Scared" and "When Harry Met Sally", Billy Crystal delivered big laughs in the very dark comedy, THROW MOMMA FROM THE TRAIN.

A frustrated writer, furious at his ex-wife for stealing his book and becoming a best selling author, Larry fills his days (Crystal) teaching a creative writing class at a local college.

One of his students is Owen, (Danny DeVito) a simple man living with his loud and overbearing Momma, perfectly played by Anne Ramsey (The Goonies).

Owen is dying for Larry to read his new murder mystery. Larry suggests that Owen see Hitchcock's 'Strangers on a Train" for inspiration.

After seeing the film, Owen is convinced that Larry will kill Momma if he kills Larry's despised ex-wife, Margaret (Kate Mulgrew).

This tees up a very funny film that rises above the concept, mostly thanks to DeVito's strong work in the Director's chair and his portrayal of Owen as an innocent man-child. DeVito creates many more layers to Owen than I expected and remembered, creating a sympathetic character that may also be a calculated murderer. The quiet scene where he shares his coin collection with Larry is really well acted by DeVito.

80's stalwart Kim Griest (Manhunter, Brazil) has fun as Larry's fellow teacher & current girlfriend and Rob Reiner is a blast as Larry's literary agent.

Crystal is at his 80's best, delivering every punch line with style while showing off his physical comedy skills as well.

Ramsey is fearless and earned an Oscar nomination as Momma, one of the nastiest Moms since Joan Crawford wielded those wire hangers.

DeVito would go on to brilliantly direct an even darker comedy two years later, "The War of the Roses".

Fast, funny and twisted, THROW MOMMA FROM THE TRAIN gets an appreciative B.


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