Ruthless People

Year: 1986

Synopsis: To obtain her fortune, psychopathic businessman Sam Stone seeks to kill his wife, who is kidnapped before he could do so, while Stone’s mistress botches a blackmail scheme based on Stone’s intent.

Pros:
• Every character is fun in their own right, with the ironically fun characters just that much more hilarious. They made this madness work.
• The at times wild plot of failed murder schemes, blackmail, and kidnapping — as well as successful revenge — almost implausibly held itself together. It was like watching Hitchcock parody himself, right down to the manipulated cops.
• Though the intensity varied, every scene had laughs.
• Incredibly satisfying, especially in its anti-1980s feel.

Cons:
• The dark humor probably wasn’t for everyone.
• Not everyone would have liked the strong indictment of greed within 1980s society.

Discussion:
Perhaps some of the best films of the 1980s were a direct attack on the very society the spawned them. Ruthless People specifically attacked the greed of the 1980s in the most parodic of ways. Perhaps for even the most likable of characters, greed was the core of all their motivations. Yet, for some, that was a kind of mask society forced the to wear, especially after being on the wrong side of greed or being too stupid to know any other motivation. In the end, perhaps the strongest indictment was on the viewers themselves. They may have deserved it, but we did cheer when the ultimate protagonists fulfilled their own greed.


Rotten Tomatoes — 94%

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