Larry Donner (Billy Crystal) is an aspiring writer who also teaches a class on writing. But he has writer's block as his ex-wife Margaret (Kate Mulgrew) has become a rich celebrity having had a book published, well a book which Larry wrote in her name. Larry is not the only one who is troubled by a woman as Owen Lift (Danny DeVito), one of Larry's students, is troubled by his mean spirited Momma (Anne Ramsey) who makes his life a misery. But when Larry tells Owen to go and watch a Hitchcock movie he comes up with the idea that he should kill Margaret and Larry should kill momma, taking it upon himself to track down Margaret and kill her. Now Larry finds himself the prime suspect in his wife's murder.
Firstly you have Billy Crystal talking 100 words a minute and acting neurotic, secondly you have Danny DeVito doing quirky and harassed, and thirdly you have Anne Ramsey being a shrew. All are very great at doing these things but despite 80s comedy "Throw Momma from the Train" only lasting 88 minutes you have to be a major fan of these stars doing what they do best to enjoy the movie from start to finish. Unfortunately for me listening to Billy Crystal drone on and on with his neurosis is okay in small doses but not some thing I can endure for getting on for 90 minutes. It is the same with Danny DeVito as for me in small doses the quirky character he played so well in the 80s was one of those which worked in smaller doses.
Of course there is a storyline to all this and "Throw Momma from the Train" is a comedy take on "Strangers on a Train" with the character of Owen actually getting the idea to do the same after watching it in the cinema. The trouble is that all the potential to be really funny is undone because it relies too heavily of Crystal and DeVito delivering their brand of humour rather than exploring all the potential that the set up has to do some thing clever.
What this all boils down to is that "Throw Momma from the Train" is a fun movie but it is a movie which is very much about the brand of comedy which Danny DeVito and Billy Crystal were all about back in the 80s which is okay up to a point but can end up getting on your nerves.