Larry Donner is an author and writing professor who tutors people that want to write books. Larry's life has become a misery when his ex-wife Margaret has published a book he wrote under her name and has gotten rich over it. Owen Lift, one of Larry's students, offers Larry to kill Margaret, and in return Owen, wants Larry to kill his horrible mother. Larry thinks it's a joke, until he learns Owen killed his ex-wife. And Larry has now become the prime suspect.Written by
The title comes from the Patti Page song "Throw Mama From the Train, a kiss, a kiss, Wave Mama from the train a goodbye..." It is written in Pennsylvania Deutsch dialect which is essentially English with German syntax, so "throw momma from the train a kiss" means "throw momma a kiss from the train." See more »
When Owen sneaks into Margaret's house, he's barefoot. Then when her gardener shows up and he hides behind the couch, it's obvious that he has shoes on. See more »
[She changing the channel to news]
The ex-husband of missing novelist Margaret Donner is wanted for questioning, but has now himself disappeared... If you have any information regarding his whereabouts of Mr. Donner, please contact your local police department.
[turns to Owen]
OWEN! There's a murderer in the house!
[gets up and calls the police]
Hello, police? I found him! The wife murderer! He's here!
Give me the phone! Give me the phone!
[plugs the phone out]
I found him, the wife murderer!
See more »
The credit for Assistant Sound Editor Robert Martel has a gap in the vertical stroke of the L. See more »
When aired on Comedy Central, the following alterations were made:
The title of the book Larry announces to the class is now called "100 Girls I'd like to Boing" instead of 'pork'
Whenever Larry would call his wife a 'slut' it was changed to 'sleaze'.
A scene, right after Larry dismisses class because he has a headache in his eye, that was deleted from the video but is present now is where Owen meets up with Larry in the parking lot and asks why he didn't read the book.
A scene where Owen and Larry meet right after Owen calls and asks why Larry didn't like his book. They were talking under a street lamp before they were sitting outside the grocery store.
A scene with Larry at the club he said he was at while Margaret's "murder" took place.
A scene of Larry and Beth camping out after Larry was talking to Rob Reiner where Beth had a copy of Margaret's book, which Larry took a strong dislike to.
Black comedy isn't always an easy sell. Every now and then you get a black comedy that is hugely successful, like Fargo, for example. But usually they don't often find big audiences. People seem to either set their minds for intellectual comedy, or for serious mayhem. There doesn't seem to be a big market for a good mixture of both. Throw Momma From the Train was a fairly decent hit, yet few people seem to remember much about it in this day and age. Danny DeVito just about hit this one all the way out of the park back in 1987.
DeVito plays an odd mamma's boy named Owen looking to rid himself of his outrageously overbearing and unpleasant mother whom he still lives with. The mother is played by Anne Ramsey, who passed away shortly after this was released, and she is quite a caricature. She is loud, ugly, rude, and overbearing. Though Owen hardly seems like he could take care of himself, he wants desperately to have his mother offed. He fantasizes about it in some truly weird scenes, but he clearly doesn't have the guts to actually do it himself. That's where Billy Crystal comes in. Crystal plays Larry Donner, Owen's creative writing teacher at a nearby community college. Larry is a paranoid would-be intellectual novelist who claims his ex-wife stole his novel and made millions off it. He is currently trying to write a new one, but cannot even come up with a decent first sentence. "The night was...." Owen hears Larry wish his ex-wife were dead during an outburst at the school cafeteria. And borrowing the idea from Strangers on a Train, Owen decides to travel to Hawai'i and murder Larry's ex-wife. Once it appears he has done so, he expects Larry to return the favor and kill his mother. The resulting action is often quite funny, and even poignant. It's certainly never dull and often full of surprises.
The acting is exceptional, even if Ramsey was a bit over the top. Crystal is as good as he can be, and DeVito has always been undervalued as a performer. The film relies on quite a bit of physical comedy which usually works, often painfully so. The film makes use of some truly innovative editing techniques in some scenes, and the off-beat tone is truly refreshing. I have often been critical of the late 1980s as being a time of artistic malaise and down right lazy film-making. Throw Momma From the Train takes chances. Both in how its characters are drawn as well as its general plot. How many comedies revolve around a son having his mother murdered? The film isn't too long, and it is chock full of laughs. Writers are apt to find it more interesting than the general public, but it can still be enjoyed by just about anyone. 9 of 10 stars.
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