Sunday, June 01, 2008

Movie review: Throw Momma from the Train

A comedic reworking of Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train, with Crystal as Larry, a writing professor at a college whose one good book was stolen by his ex-wife (Mulgrew). Now she makes millions and goes on book tours while Larry toils in obscurity, struggling with writer's block and an obsessive hatred of his ex.

Danny DeVito is Owen, the meek, secretly seething son of a harsh and domineering mother (Ramsey), who constantly abuses and belittles him. Owen is a student in Larry's class. One of very little talent or brain.

Owen is constantly hounding Larry for writing advice. Finally Larry sends him to see a Hitchcock movie in an effort to help him to understand plot, pacing and depth. The movie happens to be Strangers on a Train, a story of two men who meet on a train. Each has a murder they would like to commit, but they'd surely be caught, so they decide to trade murders. With an alibi for their own murder, and no motive for the other murder, surely neither will ever be suspected.

Owen takes this as a hidden message from Larry that he'd like to do the same thing: trade killing Owen's mother for Owen killing his ex-wife. When Owen decides to accept the deal, things get a little out-of-hand.

Ramsey is perfect as the crotchety, slightly paranoid old lady. DeVito is terrific as the not-too-bright Owen. Crystal is a little too frantic, although the movie comes together into a mismatched buddy comedy that's pretty good.

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