Johnny Dangerously (1984)

Well here’s something you don’t really see anymore: a period movie set in the depression era that’s a parody of old 30s gangster films, and atop of everything else, the theme song “This is the life” is performed by none other than Weird Al Yankovic himself! A true trifecta of things you really don’t see happening in today’s film market, though to be fair Weird Al apparently has had a bit of a re-emergence to popularity recently, so I suppose Al might do a comeback to the big screen theme songs in the near future. Speaking of the theme song and Weird Al himself, it’s astounding how much disservice the movie does to its own theme song. The opening credits sequence is frankly, abysmal. All you have are these incredibly bland and simple static background images changing every twenty or so seconds, sucking all the energy from the song. I had to go back and listen only the song again with my eyes closed to make sure, and true enough, it’s pretty catchy and funny when you hear it, but when combine with the lame credits sequence, the presentation just about ruins the song completely. What makes it even more depressing is seeing Weird Al’s own music video for the song, which is brilliant, funny, and everything the credits scene could and should have done in the first place.

But I digress. As it stands, Johnny Dangerously is pretty funny little picture. It’s not particularly hilarious and you won’t be have stomach pain from too much laughing, like you do when watching something like Airplane!, but it is still a delightful little movie with a ton of charm to it. The humor is very old school and thus rather droll, and features a lot of deadpan running gags, clever wordplay  and visual gags that you can easily miss if you don’t pay attention, etc. Everything you would expect from an 80s parody film. Personally I love this strain of comedy, the absurdity mixed with deadpan delivery is a goldmine for laughs in my book. My favorite running gag is probably the doctor telling Johnny how his mother has yet another chronic disease that he just happens to have a great deal for, if Johnny has the cash. The cast is entirely OK, nobody really pops in any memorable way in their roles but the acting is entirely solid all around.  Michael Keaton is young and energetic as Johnny, which works well with his lead role, but he has not yet reached that point in his career where he starts to leave a lasting impression on you, though you do kinda get to see a hint of it in a couple of scenes. Dom DeLuise makes a funny but very brief cameo as the pope and honestly I wish he would have had more to do, or at least become a running gag similar to the door man who was always milking money. We also get Danny DeVito, with real hair on his head, as the corrupt D.A who has couple of good scenes, including one where he presents the perks of being a corrupt city official as if he was in a game show and he was introducing the potential prizes. While not a barrel of laughs that leaves you out of breath, Johnny Dangerously does leave you entirely satisfied by the time the ending credits start.


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