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Throw Momma From the Train is a 1987 Black Comedy directed by Danny DeVito in which writer Larry Donner, suffering from severe writer's block, meets writing student and simpleton Owen Lift. Larry is wracked with jealous rage over his ex-wife Margaret, who stole his book and with it, became a world-famous author. Owen, after being instructed by Larry to see some Hitchcock films to help him learn how to write murder mysteries, thinks Larry was sending him a message to exchange murders after he chooses Strangers on a Train: Owen is to kill Margaret, and Larry is to kill Owen's monstrous mother. Larry becomes entwined with the idiot "couch potato" as he is on the lam from being a major suspect in Margaret's murder, since Owen failed to tell him of his intent and didn't allow Larry to create an alibi.
Anne Ramsey earned an Academy Award nomination for her role as Momma, and passed away a year later.
- Adaptation Decay: An in-universe example of Owen's new book. A children's pop-up book version of the events of the movie.
- Affectionate Parody
- Arc Words: "Criss cross!"
- Berserk Button: Larry has many of them, including any mention of his wife becoming famous.
- Buffy-Speak / Department of Redundancy Department: Mrs. Hazeltine's bad writing results in a less-than-descriptive short story.
Mrs. Hazeltine: "Dive! Dive!" yelled the Captain through the thing! So the man who makes it dive pressed a button, or a something, and it dove. And, the enemy was foiled again. "Looks like we foiled them again," said Dave. "Yeah," said the Captain. "We foiled those bastards again. Didn't we, Dave." "Yeah," said Dave. The End.
- The Chew Toy: Larry and Owen both.
- Coitus Uninterruptus: Owen interrupts Larry and Beth's lovemaking on a kid's train.
- Comically Missing the Point: And how. Owen gets the wrong message when Larry tells him to go see a Hitchcock movie.
- Determinator: Owen and Momma.
- Did Not Do the Research: In-universe, as one of Larry's students writes a story about a submarine crew, without bothering to learn the name of the device the captain talks through. She just calls it "the thing."
- The Ditz: Owen drifts into this territory several times.
- Evil Old Folks: Momma to the End.
- Femme Fatale: Margaret.
- Frying Pan of Doom: Oh, yes.
- Gosh Darn It to Heck: One of Larry's students who overheard Larry screaming, "That slut, I wish she were dead!" tells the police, "I heard him call her a very bad name, and that he wished she were dead."
- Groin Attack: "She's not a woman. She's The Terminator."
- Hey, It's That Guy!:
- Ho Yay: Owen and Larry.
- It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: All of Larry's attempts to write during his writer's block start "The night was..."
- Jerkass: Momma.
- Karma Houdini: Larry's ex-wife gets away with stealing his book, and all the accolades with it, and at the end is set to make more money with the story of how she survived falling off the ship. Larry's victory is simply that he learns to stop obsessing over her, which lets him write another great book.
- Then again, her success may not continue; it's tough to follow an act that wasn't yours in the first place, after all. However, she seems intent on milking the book for all it's worth, ie. benefiting from the film rights.
- Lawful Stupid: Larry. He is so sensitive about plagiarism, he changes his story from "The night was humid." to "The night was moist." when he discovers Owen started his writing assignment the same way. Probably justified, in that his hateful ex-wife stole his novel, passed it off as her own and it became a bestseller, which would be enough to give anyone a complex about the subject.
- Mood Whiplash: A lot of it. One example has a depressed Owen talking about how evil he is for killing Margaret, then brightly exclaiming "Cows!" when he sees a dairy billboard.
Larry: (listening to the news) Oh, poor, poor, Margaret... that SLUT! SLUT! SHE IS A SLUT SLUT!... I'm gonna fry!
- My Beloved Smother: And HOW.
- No Indoor Voice: Larry yells in this film. A lot.
- Precision F-Strike: Mr. Pinsky's book was titled, "100 Girls I'd Like To Fuck". It was changed to "Pork" in ADR to get the film a PG-13 rating and avoid an R rating.
- Reality Is Unrealistic: Momma's behavior may seem extreme and unrealistic, but many older people do get paranoid and harsh in their later years for the same fears Momma has.
- Recycled in Space: Strangers on a Train AS A SELF-REFERENTIAL COMEDY!
- Rhetorical Request Blunder: Owen overhears Larry saying he wished his wife were dead. Guess what happens.
- Screw Politeness, I'm A Senior: Who else?, Momma.
- Shout-Out: Strangers on a Train.
- A Tale of Two Cities. Larry on the train talks to Owen about the perfect beginning of a novel and mentions A Tale of Two Cities, "It was the best of times it was the worst of times..." Momma late in the film gives Larry a perfect opening for his abortive novel, "The night was sultry". This is a variation of the line, "The night was so very sultry" from A Tale Of Two Cities.
- Stalker with a Crush: Owen, and how.
- Strangers on a Train Plot Murder: The entire plot revolves around Owen being inspired by the film to kill Larry's ex-wife in exchange that Larry kill his mother.
- This Is No Time to Panic: Spoken by Owen after Momma recognizes Larry as the chief suspect in Margaret's murder.
Larry: This is the PERFECT time to panic!
- Title Drop: The name of Larry's novel is "Throw Momma From the Train".
- Tranquil Fury: "Where are you going?" "I'm gonna kill the bitch. You want anything?"
- What You Are in the Dark: Larry's dream about killing Margaret near the end of the film.
- Whole-Plot Reference: Strangers on a Train.
- Why Do You Hate the Dog?: Owen.