A dark comedy that seems to be a hidden gem.
PLOT:Larry Donner (Billy Crystal) is an author and the teacher of an adult's creative writing class. He hasn't written a good novel ever since his ex-wife left him, stole his masterwork, and labeled it as her own making millions. One of his students, Owen Lift (Danny DeVito) is having his own problems with his mom (Anne Ramsey) always bullying him. One night when Owen finds Larry seeking advice for a murder mystery he is writing, Larry unknowingly tells Owen how they can get rid of their problems with their relatives: eliminate the motive and criss-cross murders. When it appears that Owen has murdered Larry's ex-wife, Larry is pushed to murder Owen's mother so he won't get caught by the police. Will he do it? Will they be found out? I'll leave you there. It's a pretty well thought-out plot inspired by a similar Hitchcock mystery, that's executed like an ordinary dark comedy.
ACTING:The acting is more than decent in this movie. Crystal does a delightful job as Larry Donner. I love how he can be so calm one minute and then blow up the next. He is so neurotic. I didn't really care much for DeVito in here. I don't like it when DeVito is stuck with the role of an idiot; he does much better as a smarter man (such as in Batman Begins or The War of the Roses). He did a good job, but it wasn't his best by far. Anne Ramsey was just a filler character that did the job she was supposed to be dreadfully. She was the comic relief, and I believe she kind of disrupted the movie's flow. Though it wouldn't work if the mom was nice, she overdid the simple slapstick humor just a tad. Everyone else did a decent job, especially Kim Greist as Beth.
SCORE:The score was either mainly played for comical effect or emotional impact, so it wasn't anything really special. It worked, but it was just there to evoke the right emotion.
CAMERAWORK:I actually was quite fond of the cinematography here. DeVito did the directing for this flick, and I can tell he had a vision to catch certain shots at certain points with a creative and steady hand. The shots are just made so smooth for such a rough film.
OTHER CONTENT:This movie is really nothing more than a simply-made dark buddy comedy with a tender amount of slapstick. I like slapstick comedy, but not if it just grows dreadful and unnecessary. In here, it is necessary to make the movie feel as fun as the idea is. It was silly, but that's the whole point of the movie is to be a mock-up of a mystery. I liked the chemistry in here among Crystal and DeVito as well; it really clicked into making a funny film. Some say it was ridiculous, but I think it made the film more unique. This is somewhat of a hidden gem because though silly, it is well-inspired and well-made. It reminds me of odd charmers such as Matilda (of course) and Death Becomes Her. This movie is nothing more than a simple dark comedy though. Not special, but a fun little trip.
OVERALL,a good dark comedy with a well thought-out plot, more than decent acting, generic score, creative and steady camerawork, decent slapstick comedy, a well inspiration and a great maker.