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It's sometimes crude and tasteless, but Ruthless People wrings acid-soaked laughs out of its dark premise and gleefully misanthropic characters. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

Sam Stone (Danny DeVito) hates his wife, Barbara (Bette Midler), so much that he wants her dead. He's ecstatic when she's taken by a duo of kidnappers who want $500,000 ransom in exchange for her life. Fully intending to ignore every one of the kidnappers' demands in the hopes that they do him a favor and murder her for him, the two confused kidnappers (Judge Reinhold, Helen Slater) have to figure out how they're going get their money, and what they're going to do with the overbearing Barbara.

Cast & Crew

Bette Midler
Barbara Stone
Helen Slater
Sandy Kessler
Anita Morris
Carol Dodsworth
Art Evans
Lt. Bender
Joanna Lancaster
Executive Producer
Richard Wagner
Executive Producer
Walter Yetnikoff
Executive Producer
Michel Colombier
Original Music
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News & Interviews for Ruthless People

Critic Reviews for Ruthless People

All Critics (35) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (33) | Rotten (2)

  • The characters here aren't just bad; most of them are truly vile -- human slime. And the film makers chew them up (especially two nefarious bonbons played by Danny DeVito and Bette Midler) with the toothsome glee of jolly cannibals.

    July 31, 2013 | Full Review…
  • Much of the fun of this comedy is in watching what happens as virtually everyone in the movie tries to double-cross or otherwise take advantage of everyone else.

    July 31, 2013 | Full Review…
  • An undemanding but well-executed entertainment.

    July 31, 2013 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Ruthless People contains some of the biggest laughs of 1986.

    July 31, 2013 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • It's a rare kind of craftsmanship, and it produces a rare kind of pleasure.

    July 31, 2013 | Full Review…
  • Ruthless People is a hilariously venal comedy about a kidnapped harridan whose rich husband won't pay for her return.

    March 26, 2009 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Ruthless People

  • Dec 10, 2012
    Ruthless People is a fun, entertaining comedy film that has good gags going for it. I enjoyed the film, but it did lack in some areas, and it could have been a bit better. However this is a good little comedy that was directed by the guys who made Airplane! However this isn't their best work. Bette Midler is very good here, and she makes the film worth seeing. I, on the other hand, never did enjoy Devitto's work, but I like him here, and he is pretty funny in his part. The film manages to be good enough to be a worthwhile comedy to watch, and if you're looking for a pleasant time waster, then give this one a shot. Although not the greatest comedy, there are enough effective elements to make this one a memorable flick to watch. I even if at times the film's material lacks, the cast do affine job to elevate this film into very humorous moments that works throughout. Everything you'd expect from the directors is present and there's enough zany humor to make this one worth seeing despite its flaws. I liked the film, and it's smartly constructed and it manages to rely more on its great cast, which are just funny on-screen to really make it standout above its flaws. Enjoy this crazy ride. Middler is great here, and she is one of the film's biggest strengths with a well written script that has more good things going for it than bad, directors, Jim Abrahams, David and Jerry Zucker craft a fine little comedy that is sure to please comedy lovers.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Jul 06, 2012
    Without all the madness of Airplane, The Naked Gun or Top Secret, the trio: Jim Abrahams and David and Jerry Zucker made a terrific intelligent comedy, with the misunderstandings between the characters, the complex plot, a funny cast (with the best of Danny DeVito) make Ruthless People one of the greatest comedy film of the 80's and of the Touchstone Pictures. Fresh.
    Lucas M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 22, 2012
    This is THE ultimate film of misunderstandings. Every plan in this film goes wrong, and in an absolutely spectacular fashion. The plot for this one is dark and hilarious, making Danny DeVito one of the most loathsome (but funny) characters in film history. What makes this so surprising is that it's a Touchstone film, which means it was funded by Disney. What's unsurprising is why it's funny. It was made by the "Airplane" team, Jim Abraham, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker, which means it's going to be decently funny no matter what. This is absolutely awesome instead of just decently funny. It's very crude at certain points, but I was too busy laughing to care. One of the best con comedies of the 80s.
    Jacob E Super Reviewer
  • Jul 21, 2011
    Lighthearted 80's romp about the small mean places in some versus the great wide open of others, and how each side secretly, insanely envies the other. Zany fun.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer

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