Maybe it’s just me, but there was a time where it felt like this film lived on RTE. Or maybe I just gave up on trying to find things to watch and repeatedly popped in our VHS copy. Either way, we’re onto an absolute childhood favourite of mine here and one which I probably shouldn’t have even been watching as a child (like most of them!)
The plot is simple – this is a meta-remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers On A Strain, meta in the sense that Owen (Danny DeVito) is inspired by watching said film. He needs rid of his cruel and over bearing mother and he misinterprets that Larry (Billy Crystal) wants the same done to his ex-wife. What follows is the blackest of comedy as Larry, under the impression Owen has fulfilled his role, moves in to Owen’s house and works up the nerve to kill “Momma”.
If you feel like nothing I have said so far screams comedy gold, don’t be alarmed. Like I said, this is the blackest comedy to be found. What absolutely makes it however is that both male leads were at their peak in this late eighties/early nineties period. DeVito as the somewhat dunce-like Owen and Crystal as the neurotic Larry. It all comes down to the late, great Anne Ramsey though who plays the titular “Momma”. In one of her finals roles before her untimely passing, she pulls off her character in a crucial fashion that no other could. Yes she’s a mother, and yes she’s the devil. It doesn’t hurt that she’s also hilarious.
To go any further into the plot than I have would be a disservice to a film, one which is put together brilliantly. The timing is spot on, the look perfect and the score brings a brilliant tone to it that further evokes the spirit of Hitchcock. Watch it, love it.