Cinerama: Ruthless People

Posted: September 11, 2009 in Cinerama

Ruthless People

By Mike Derderian

“Let the forfeit be nominated for an equal pound of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken in what part of your body pleaseth me,” disappointingly proclaims Shylock for had he the technology, he would have either planted a scroll of paper rigged with an explosive C4 plasticine in Antonio’s mailbox or called for an air raid using laser-guided missiles. However, that would have damaged the rialto cutting brief the wasted tears and spoiled the fascinating face of bella Venice forever, wouldn’t it?

All I see is images of death; innocent children hurled into the dark pits of an eternal hollow grave; morsels of human flesh and bones splattered on the floor like a unfortunate cat run down by some reckless daddy-got-me-a-new-car-for-my-birthday driver.

Nothing has changed. The monotone headlines are still the same and the tragic long news bulletins about the demise of ancient Babylonia and its people being gnawed to the bone by the merciless beast we call liberty are still being read on our satellite channels. Broadcast along the images of singers and musicians going after a pop culture fed to our teenagers through a spoon tipped in arsenic.

I wonder have we always been “Ruthless People” or are we just mute? Excuse my apocalyptic mood but I am fed up with all the atrocities being committed on the flesh of our lovely Gaya. I am fed up with watching young children and full-grown men roaming the streets, begging for pennies in order to buy a pound of bread whereas they can simply slice off a pound of meat from a fellow man’s torso to feed on.

I see a lot of schmucks riding a fifty-thousand worth of metal heap processed into what we call a “luxury car”; and a lot of festivals held in the name of art, buying the voices of singers for thousands of dinars while some poor families cannot afford a liter of gasoline for a winter heater.

“I mean, what the hell is the point of being a decent person when no one is?” angrily exclaims Ken Kessler (Judge Reinhold) to his soft hearted naïve wife Sandy (Helen Slater), whom by the way are the goof ball couple protagonists turned kidnappers in the 1986 comedy Ruthless People.

Born in the last year of the seventies, I remember growing up during the eighties. When I used to watch rising actors dressed in silly outfits, weird hairdos in offbeat movies with the hip-hop top of the pop break-dance music soundtracks that came with it.

Thank God that the Miami Vice Don Johnson unshaven folded sleeves suit with bright colors look is no longer in fashion!

However, the eighties was also an era of a lot of hits like Revenge of the Nerds, Footloose, Gremlins, Twins, Risky Business, Dirty Dancing, St Elmo’s Fire, not to forget Blade Runner, my all time favorite sci-fi masterpiece by Ridley Scot, that has been lately voted best science fiction film—topping Stanely Kubrick’s Space Odyssey and the Star War trilogy.

Ruthless People is one comedy you don’t want to miss, starring Danny DeVito, Anita Morris, Bill Pulman, William G. Schilling and Bete Midler as the obnoxious Barbara Stone, who was kidnapped by the Kesslers in an attempt to settle their score with her greedy husband “The Mini Spandex Skirt King” Sam Stone (DeVito), whom chiseled them out of a one million dollar deal.

The film artistry, which is limited to the strong palates of red, green and blue used in its filming set like props, furniture, outfits and bad hairdos takes us back to the good ol’ eighties; however, plot-wise the film is an intricate comic delight supported by great acting.

Bette Midler, who is known for her hilarious stage performances—Bette Midler in Concert: Diva Las Vegas (1997)—that showcase a knack for singing mixed with a very explicit sense of humor, practically hogged the entire limelight from her other co-stars.

The musical animated opening credit where you can hear the Ruthless People theme song performed by Mick Jagger is a quite a visual spectacle. Produced using the pop art palates, especially in creating the grim images of ruthless creatures squashed with their entrails and blood splattered all over the screen, will make you laugh. You’ll love the reality.

In addition to the star power of Midler’s dark sense of humor and DeVito’s silly wisecracks at wrong numbers and verbally abusing Ken Kessler—attempting to sound like a vicious bloodthirsty kidnapper threatening to torture dear Barbra at the slightest delay in ransom payment. Helen Slater, whom we all loved as the charming Kara, a.k.a. super girl back in1984, gave quite a performance as the neurotic twitchy goofy wife.

Best example is the sidesplitting scene, when both husband and wife try to unsuccessfully sedate the rampaging Barbara using chloroform.

If you thought Mel Gibson drove a hard bargain with kidnappers in Ransom then you still have to meet with sticky fingers Sam Stone, who doesn’t bear the mere mentioning of his wife’s name, a fact that made this film a real treat for those who are depressed by all what is going on in the world.

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