Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Movie Review: "Johnny Dangerously"

Directed by: Amy Heckerling
Year Released: 1984
Running Time: 90 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG-13
Annette's Star Rating: **** (4 out of 5)'s Quick Summary:
"Set in the 1930's, an honest, goodhearted man is forced to turn to a life of crime to finance his neurotic mother's skyrocketing medical bills."
Funny story how I found out about this movie: A few days, maybe a week ago, I was going through a sort of "Weird" Al Yankovic phase, looking for music videos on YouTube and telling my sibs about how funny his songs are. Anyway, one day, I find a music video called "This is the Life", which I later found out is a song that plays during the opening credits of a movie I've never heard about called "Johnny Dangerously".
Here's the music video I saw:
After watching this music video, I immediately put "Johnny Dangerously" on my "to-watch" list, and now that I've seen it, I can write my review for it. So here it goes...

First of all, let me start by saying I really, really enjoyed watching this movie. There are so many different kinds of jokes scattered throughout the story that it's a little like going on an Easter egg hunt. You never know where you'll run into a subtle visual gag, or a well-placed pratfall, or a sly gangster-movie reference, or just those moments that make you go, "Wait a minute, what just happened?" There were some parts where my brother, sister and I had to rewind the movie just to get another laugh at a funny part. Whenever this happens, I know that we've got a new favorite film.

The movie starts off with Michael Keaton's character, Johnny Kelly (a.k.a. Johnny Dangerously), a pet-shop keeper who prevents a young boy from stealing a kitten and proceeds to tell him his entire life-story. Cue the ripple-y memory-lane effect and harp-strumming that comes when one reminisces. The boy goes, "Hey, what's going on?" and Johnny says, "Oh don't worry, it always goes like that when I start thinking about the past."

The rest of the film is pretty much a flash-back of Johnny Dangerously's life as the boss of a big gangster-mob, but that doesn't stop the jokes from coming, no sir. The writing in this movie is clever and fast-paced; the one-liners are well set up and hilariously delivered, and the actors looked like they were having a great time being in this movie. The tone for the movie is light and irreverent, in the same sort of vein as films like "Airplane", "Mafia", and the "Naked Gun" movies. Like the films I've just described, "Johnny Dangerously" is fueled mainly by running gags, visual gags, and jokes that rely more on the setting than the story. One running gag is a line from a character called Danny Vermin, which goes something like, "You shouldn't [kick me/hang me on a hook/kick me in the balls] like that. My [insert family member] did that to me once. Once..." The line is so funny that it has the potential to become a new in-joke to bug people with. "Oh yeah, I did something like that once. Once..."

Another running gag that I liked was whenever this character, a rival mob-boss named Roman Moronie, found occasion to use curse-words: instead of using conventional dirty swears, he uses replacements like "icehole", "cork-soaker", and "fargin som-an-a-batch". Thinly disguised? Yes. Is it funny? Oh yeah. Oddly enough, other characters in the movie use real swear-words, so it's just this Moronie character who uses curses in this way.

Anyway, this movie is great. It might be a bit cliche at times, but other times it turns cliches on their heads and shows you something you never see coming. For example, in the beginning of the movie, after the opening credits are done, you see a busy street and the year appears: 1935.

After a few moments, a car crashes right into 1935 and the year crumbles into pieces! As if it was just a sign made of wood that was just there in the middle of the road!

I feel bad giving some of the best gags in the movie away, but don't worry, there's plenty more where that came from that I haven't even mentioned yet. I recommend this movie to everyone, especially those people who love parody films.

Have a great day now!


  1. Great job reviewing this movie Annette!

  2. Ah-ha I have to see it. That is so hilarious. Great review by the way.

    Weird Al is hilarious, so the connection would make sense.


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