Ruthless People

Watch Ruthless People

"Sam Stone's wife has just been kidnapped... And he doesn't want her back!"
  • R
  • 1986
  • 1 hr 34 min
  • 6.9  (30,051)
  • 78

It's 1986 and Los Angeles business mogul Sam Stone (Danny DeVito) is living the dream - living in an extravagant mansion, driving a luxury car, and running a successful clothing business. However, behind his wealthy facade is a man in debt, and in need of a big payday. That's where his wife Barbara (Bette Midler) comes in - she's the heiress to her father's fortune and Sam plans on kidnapping her to get his hands on the money.

Unfortunately for Sam, Barbara has been kidnapped before and has no intention of being a victim again. She's always found her husband annoying, but now she sees him as truly pathetic. So, she decides not to pay the ransom and instead, plots her sweet revenge.

Barbara, who is being held captive in the desert by dim-witted, but muscled Ken (played by Bill Pullman in his debut role), convinces him to let her go under the guise of being kin of "The Butcher" (J.E. Freeman), a notorious gangster. She tells Ken that Butcher plans to come for her and he will kill anyone who has laid a hand on her.

Meanwhile, Sam and his mistress Carol (Anita Morris) are waiting for a call from the kidnappers, but instead of receiving one, they get a call from Barbara. She informs them that she's been kidnapped and demands $500,000 for her return, with a warning that if they go to the police, she will be killed.

Thinking it's a scam, Sam and Carol call the police anyways. That's when Detective Jeffrey K. Maier (Judge Reinhold) shows up. Despite the fact that no one else believes Barbara has actually been kidnapped, Maier takes her case seriously and starts to investigate.

As the plot unfolds, we see the twisted and comical ways in which Barbara executes her revenge on her foolish husband, using every trick in the book to humiliate and discredit him. Though Sam is initially devastated by Barbara's “death,” he moves on with Carol, who then cheats on him with the man she believes is a hitman sent by Sam. He's then unable to pay off the hitman, who is actually Barbara's new lover, Earl (played by a relatively unknown Bruno Kirby).

Through the hilarious plot twists and turns, the film offers some subtle commentary on the excesses of wealth and the entitlement that often goes along with it. The movie also features a killer soundtrack that further emphasizes its '80s aesthetic.

Ruthless People is an entertaining crime-comedy that offers delightful performances from its all-star cast, especially Bette Midler, as well as a clever and surprising plot. The film's enduring popularity speaks to its enduring appeal and the enduring quality of its wry humor.

Ruthless People is a 1986 comedy with a runtime of 1 hour and 34 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.9 and a MetaScore of 78.

Ruthless People
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Where to Watch Ruthless People
Ruthless People is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Ruthless People for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
    1986
  • MPAA Rating
    R
  • Runtime
    1 hr 34 min
  • Language
    English
  • IMDB Rating
    6.9  (30,051)
  • Metascore
    78