Chronicle Of Disney’s Ruthless People

Laughing Place
Touchstone and Beyond: A History of Disney’s “Ruthless People”
By Bill Gowsell
December 18, 2022

RUTHLESS PEOPLE, Bette Midler, Danny DeVito, 1986
Ruthless people bette midler danny devito 1986

Chronicle Of Disney’s Ruthless People: Danny DeVito and Bette Midler, what more could anyone ask for in a film? With Touchstone Pictures Ruthless People, the two play a married couple facing the test of their lives.

The Plot

Ken and Sandy are not heartless monsters. Past business dealings saw Sam steal Ken and Sandy’s fashion ideas, leaving them poor and making Sam millions of dollars. Thinking they will exact their revenge on Sam by holding Barbara hostage, Ken and Sandy are shocked to learn that Sam has no plans to pay the ransom.

As the story unfolds, Sam’s mistress, Carol, tries to blackmail Sam, while the cops think Sam has killed Barbara and faked the kidnapping story. Now Sam must get Barbara back to save himself. When Barbara learns about Sam’s reluctance to pay the ransom and how he stole Sandy and Ken’s ideas, she has the last laugh on her philandering husband.

The Good

If you have a movie with Danny DeVito and Bette Midler in it, then comedy will ensue. They play the estranged couple so well, and he is hilarious every moment DeVito is on the screen. He projects that rich executive jerk so well that you can’t help but like Sam Stone while at the same time hoping he gets his comeuppance.

Midler and DeVito don’t get much screen time together, which is what elevates the film’s comedy. There are hints of a dark undertone, but because these two very funny people are in different parts of the film, the humor is varied and will make the audience laugh.

Judge Reinhold and Helen Shaver are great in their roles. They are not only funny but sympathetic ‘villains’ of the story.

The Bad and the Ugly

After being kidnapped for a week, Barbara loses 20 pounds. Really? Like is this even possible?

Kidnapping is not the solution to your problems. No matter how much this film seems to say that, it is.

The Streamy Award

The following four categories are based on a Film Reel scale.

1 Reel-Bored and Killing Time,
2 Reels-When You Have Some Time,
3. Reels-Make Some Time,
4 Reels-Big Screen Event}

Ruthless People isn’t the best comedy to stream, but many laughs will make you chuckle, putting this film at a 2 Reels rating. When you have some time, check out this mid 80’s comedy/caper with a great performance by Danny DeVito and Bette Midler.

  • Cast and Crest
  • Danny DeVito as Sam Stone
  • Bette Midler as Barbara Stone
  • Judge Reinhold as Ken Kessler
  • Helen Slater as Sandy Kessler
  • Anita Morris as Carol
  • Bill Pullman as Earl
  • Directed by Jim Abrahams / David Zucker / Jerry Zucker

Produced by Touchstone Pictures / Silver Screen Partners II / Zucker Brothers Productions

Release Date: June 27, 1986
Budget: $13 million

Box Office Gross

Domestic: $71,624,879

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