Throw Momma From The Train

Danny DeVito’s directorial debut (1987) stars himself and Billy Crystal as two writers who become embroiled, through a misunderstanding, in a comic plot of prefigured cross murders patterned after Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train. For all his labors, DeVito can’t entirely transcend the silliness and dogged unpleasantness of Stu Silver’s script, although he intermittently squeezes some genuine laughs out of the material just the same. Perhaps more importantly, he shows a directorial inventiveness that becomes especially apparent in the editing and various flashy transitions, which augurs well for the future. As performers, Crystal gets a bit overheated while DeVito himself is a mite undercooked; but Kim Greist is delightful as Crystal’s tolerant girlfriend, Kate Mulgrew adequate as his scheming ex-wife, and Anne Ramsey suitably grotesque as DeVito’s tyrannical mother. PG-13. 88 min. (JR)

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