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The Danny DeVito Bio

The Danny DeVito Review –

by Nate Lee


Get Shorty (You can't see it too many times)

No, he's actually not the title character, but he's vital to its success, as the movie star who John Travolta charms. "Big Fish," with his brilliantly realized ringmaster is as good a film, certainly, though not as big a role. You could argue "L.A. Confidential," too. Of his major performances, you have to love "Matilda" and especially the insanely funny "Ruthless People."

Great Performances You May Not Have Seen:
The Rainmaker (Matt Damon's teacher about real-world law)
The War of the Roses (the narrator, again giving real-world legal advice)
Other People's Money (Larry the Liquidator)
Jewel of the Nile (sequel to Romancing the Stone)
Tin Men (an aluminum-siding salesman)
The Virgin Suicides
The Big Kahuna
L.A. Confidential (a smaller but pivotal role)
Big Fish (a smaller role in a brilliant Tim Burton film)
Ruthless People (early De Vito comic villain)
Matilda (brilliantly realized secondary comic villain)
Throw Momma from the Train (borrowing from Hitchcock, out to rid the world of his mother)
Batman Returns
Romancing the Stone
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
De Real DeVito:
Get Shorty - No, he's not the shorty in the title, but everything else about his playing an unlikely movie star is very much Danny.
Acting Style:
A five-foot bad-ass, Danny loves going over the top and we gladly follow. Whether he's an outright slimeball, sleazy or just mildly corrupt, he's one of the best villains in comedy – or comic villains in other genres. Lawyers, salesmen, and con men (or all three at once) are his choice roles.

A smart Jersey boy, he's added directing and producing to his credits. Likewise, he doesn't shy away from what others would consider a pigeonhole. He brings a dark tinge and a complexity to a wide variety of roles.
Bits and Quirks:
Danny has a hunch that practically makes him round, then he springs out of it, with arms wide. With that sometimes is the forward thrust where he is on his tiptoes, leaning forward. Or just bending over at the waist, to lean into the other guy. Then there are the clenched teeth, furrowed brow or the scrunched-up quizzical face. Watch him in reruns of "Taxi," for his full barrage of bits.
Great Scenes:
Get Shorty

> He imitates John Travolta's "cool" look.
> The lunch scene where he orders off the menu.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's est

> Playing blackjack with the gang and constantly saying "Hit Me."

Batman Returns

> Taking over Gotham as the Penguin.

L.A. Confidential

> Taking illicit photos as the sleazy tabloid editor.

War of the Roses

> The opening scene in which he starts his narration to his client about the dangers of divorce.

Big Fish

> Werewolf circus master who has a hold on Ewan McGregor.

Other People's Money

> His speech to the stockholders of a dying company surpasses the "Greed" speech of his pal Michael Douglas.
If you like Danny DeVito You probably didn't like:
Mars Attacks (not Tim Burton's best)
Hoffa (too serious, but reasonably good early directing)
Renaissance Man (too good-hearted)
Go to the... Danny DeVito Bio