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Ruthless People (1986)

Danny DeVito , Bette Midler , Jim Abrahams , David Zucker  |  R |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Danny DeVito, Bette Midler, Judge Reinhold, Helen Slater, Bill Pullman
  • Directors: Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker
  • Writers: Dale Launer
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Surround)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Touchstone Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: April 2, 2002
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005T7I0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,891 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Ruthless People" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

A milestone comedy of the 1980s, Ruthless People delighted critics and audiences alike and set the tone of Hollywood comedies for years to come. Along with that other popular farce about wealthy Californians, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, this ingenious romp revived Bette Midler's career and launched Disney (by way of its subsidiary, Touchstone Pictures) into the lucrative production of R-rated comedies; it also ensured the star power of then-TV star Danny DeVito. Dale Launer became Hollywood's hot screenwriter du jour by cleverly reworking O. Henry's Ransom of Red Chief into a wicked tale of marital malice heightened by a bungled kidnapping. Midler is sublime as the victim of low-rent abductors ("I've been kidnapped by Kmart!"), and DeVito's the gleeful philanderer who refuses to pay ransom for his wife's unwanted return. With Anita Morris, Judge Reinhold, Helen Slater, and Bill Pullman among the plot-twisting schemers, the movie's so much fun that an eventual remake seems almost inevitable. --Jeff Shannon

Product Description

In this fiendishly funny comedy from the creators of AIRPLANE!, loathesome millionaire Sam Stone (Danny DeVito) is ruthless. How ruthless? When his shrill wife Barbara (Bette Midler) is nabbed by inept kidnappers (Judge Reinhold, Helen Slater), Sam cries tears of joy ... and refuses to pay the ransom. And when the abductors threaten to kill the abrasive heiress, Sam takes immediate action -- he celebrates! RUTHLESS PEOPLE. Raucous ... outlandish ... one of the top box office hits of the year!

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An 80's comedy time capsule! November 11, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
I hope everyone didn't forget that Bette Midler was the highest grossing female film star of the 80's! This is the classic that will prove how she got the attention. This was released after Down And Out In Beverly Hills which brought Bette back into popularity at the movies. In fact, Down... is probably considered her funniest movie. I think Ruthless outshines all her comedies. It's sooo 80's, too! Scene after scene, this movie moves along with no time to be bored. Acting is perfect by all. Although Danny and Bette are never seen together until the end, they look so cute together. Danny Devito wants his abrasive wife kidnaped! Judge Reinhold had his multi million dollar idea stolen from Devito. Devito's mistress wants his money. And did I mention the serial killer? Very funny! I hope this will soon be re-released on DVD!
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Ruthless Comedy! September 8, 2002
It's about time that "Ruthless People" is finally out to own on DVD. I remember seeing this movie when I was really little, and I loved every minute. Now, almost 21 years old, I was able to get all of the little jokes that I didn't get when I was little. This is still a favorite, doesn't matter how old the movie is. "Ruthless People" is a laugh-riot that will leave you begging for more!
Millionaire Sam Stone hates his wife. How much? Enough that he is prepared to kill her. But when he gets home and is ready to do the deed, his wife, Barbara, is nowhere to be found. Instead, he gets a phone call from kidnappers who threaten to kill her if he does not pay the ransom. So what does Sam do? He celebrates!!! The movie and plot gets twisted and funnier as the minutes roll by.
The cast is terrific; including Danny DeVito, Judge Reinhold, Helen Slater, and Bette Midler. They are hillarious in this evil and twisting comedy. DeVito really steals the show and is absolutley hillarious.
The DVD, I admit, is quite poor. There is litterally no special features at all. Picture is good, not great. But keep in mind, that this is an old movie. For it being such an old movie, the picture looks pretty good. Even though the DVD isn't the best, I don't care. I just wanted the movie, that's all. And that's what I got. Doesn't matter to me if there are special features or not on this one.
"Ruthless People" is a cult classic and a terrific comedy that abandons the routine boring formula. It takes risks, it's well-written, and it is still one of the funniest movies out on the market today. Check this one out when you can.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Now THAT oughta do it!!!!" December 7, 2002
Right from the start, Ruthless People has several things going for it. First of all, the plot is hilarious.
Sam Stone (Danny De Vito) is the disgruntled husband of heiress Bette Midler. Sam has a nice stack of cash of his own, yet, like the greedy man he is, he wants more. And there is only one way to get it. Kill off his rich wife. He has it all planned out. Yet little does he know that there are two people out there who will inadvertently do him a favor by kidnapping his wife and, if he won't pay off the ransom, they'll kill her for him. So all Sam has to do now is sit back and wait. There is only one problem. These kidnappers, while they claim to be "ruthless people", are really a couple of softies who, when they see a bug in their house, will scoop it up and place it gently outside the door. When they threaten to kill Mrs. Stone, they hardly mean what they say. Half the fun of watching this movie is seeing the scenes where Sam is on the phone with the kidnappers, seething because they are willing to give him chance after chance to get them the money, even after several stubborn refusals.
Bette Midler, as Sam Stone's wife, is very funny in her role as hostage, and Judge Reinhold and Helen Slater do a great job as her captors. The performances are the second thing this movie has going for it. But it is really Danny De Vito who ultimately makes this movie all it is.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly Hilarious Satire August 19, 2004
Ruthless People is the perfect star vehicle for Bette Midler. Colorful, hilarious, and extremely dated, this is a sick, twisted, and enjoyable romp with an all-star cast and truly surprising results. It's masterful how all the characters interweave, creating more and more hilarious subplots. To say any more will ruin the fun; it has to be seen to be believed. This is an overlooked gem that has an intricate plotline supported by sharp jokes. They certainly don't make em like this anymore. This film deserves to be a modern classic.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars After the wait for this to be issued on DVD... May 14, 2002
...where are all the bonus features? At bare minimum, where's the remastering? My two stars obviously do not reflect on how witty, how clever, or how entertaining this film is. Midler especially is at her pinnacle as a privileged and overbearing socialite wife, and Reinhold and Slater are perfectly dimwitted--but not as perfect as Pullman. The sole criticism I might have for the film's content is DeVito's typical performance, but it fits so snuggly into the plot his predictability is excused. My low rating is merely for the extremely poor quailty of the picture this DVD has to offer. It is no better--no clearer, no more pristine--than the VHS cassette I've had for 10+ years and has been viewed and rewound countless times. I thought for sure that such a terrific film would lend itself so exactly to star commentary, remastering, and perhaps a few minutes of deleted scenes. This is the equivalent of an old and scratchy LP being directly burned to CD and issued as is.
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