Watch This: Zucker, Abrahams, and Zucker trade parody for farce

Every day, Watch This offers staff recommendations inspired by a new movie coming out that week. This week: Noah Baumbach’s new film, Mistress America, is a modern farce. Gear up for it with five days of classic ones.

Ruthless People (1986)

The Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker team (brothers David and Jerry Zucker plus collaborator Jim Abrahams) is known for their gag-a-minute style of genre spoofs, perfected early with Airplane! and imitated (sometimes successfully, sometimes not) many times since. But Ruthless People, the last of only four movies directed by the full trio and the only one credited to an outside screenwriter, isn’t a spoof at all, but a 1986 Touchstone Pictures comedy featuring studio mainstay Bette Midler.

Midler plays Barbara Stone, wife of “spandex miniskirt king” and millionaire Sam Stone (Danny DeVito), who is plotting to murder her in classic Danny DeVito fashion—unsubtly, gleefully, and motivated by money. (For many …

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