Ruthless People

Dirs: Jim Abrahams and David Zucker
1986
I got the urge to see “Ruthless People” again after Jessica’s last business trip,
where she caught it (for the first time) on her hotel TV.
Things I had forgotten about the film: Bill Pullman plays the dumb guy, sporting a seriously bad dye-job; the parade of awful awful awful ’80s furniture and fashion (Helen Slater’s character Sandy’s fashions looks like a selection of clown suits); it has a collection of similarly foul songs, including career nadirs from both Mick Jagger (the title track) and Billy Joel (the deluded and patronizing “Modern Woman”).
Things still the same: Danny DeVito’s gleefully evil performance. Yes, I know he plays this character in nearly every film, but this is probably the best incarnation, from hoping his new Doberman will eat his wife’s poodle to his casual and offensive dismissal of a wrong number.
Tightly written plot, courtesy of Dale Launer, by way of O. Henry. And a nice performance by Judge Reinhold, who talks about being bloodthirsty and ruthless while carefully scooping up a spider and placing it outside.
The film should be taught in economics course as an example of perceived vs. absolute value, with the rich man’s wife as the commodity.

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