Danny DeVito is one of the most iconic actors in Hollywood history. Thanks to his extensive acting range and star power, DeVito has made waves in the film industry since gaining prominence as Louie De Palma in the television series Taxi (1978–1983 — which won him both a Golden Globe Award and an Emmy Award. One of DeVito’s longest-running roles is Frank Reynolds on the FX and FXX sitcom It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Aside from live-action, DeVito is also known for voicing characters in Hercules (1997), The Lorax (2012), and Smallfoot (2018). From action to comedy, there is nothing that Danny DeVito can’t do.
Here are the five best Danny DeVito movies, ranked.
10. The Rainmaker (1997)
Danny DeVito and a young Matt Damon star as two lawyers trying to figure it out. DeVito is a former paralegal who cannot pass the bar exam after having tried six different times. Damon and DeVito are hired together and end up forming their own legal team when their boss leaves amidst an FBI raid.
Damon looks for new clients after their first case is drawn out and is a failure due to their client dying. Damon meets a woman who wants to leave her husband, however, it becomes unsafe and she kills him. After the family of the first victim sues the insurance agency, the insurance agency decides to file bankruptcy in order to avoid paying anyone.
9. Twins (1988)
Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger star in the classic that had scientists attempting to make the perfect child from the DNA of six different fathers. After twins unexpectedly arrive, the children are raised separately and live totally different lives. DeVito is raised in an orphanage while Schwarzenegger is raised by one of the fathers who had their DNA used.
Schwarzenegger is told about DeVito and finds him after 35 years apart. DeVito is in jail and owes three separate loan sharks money. Later on, DeVito tells Schwarzenegger about how their mother might be alive still and the two go searching for her. After a tough journey, that finds Schwarzenegger having to save DeVito, the two find their mother and open up a consulting firm together.
8. The War of the Roses (1989)
Danny DeVito stars alongside Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. DeVito plays a lawyer who is working with a couple planning to divorce until DeVito tells the story of another experience. Doulas and Turner play a couple who is married and grow together and have a beautiful family and seemingly the dream life. However, the couple decides to get a divorce which leads to an extremely messy and dangerous divorce that seems to revolve around all material things.
Towards the end, the two fall from a chandelier, and while Douglas tries to tell his ex-wife that he always loved her, Turner rejects him and shows her true hatred towards him. Both characters die and DeVito tells his then clients that they can either go about their divorce in two ways, either a terrible court battle where nobody ends up on top or work it out themselves at home.
7. Tin Men (1987)
Danny DeVito and Richard Dreyfuss are salesmen in Baltimore who sell aluminum siding and are bitter rivals. Both men are willing to do anything and everything to close a sale and a feud gets going as the two men are competing with each other. Things get so bad that Dreyfuss has an affair with DeVito’s wife.
After both men start to hit rock bottom, the men try to end their feud together with a game of pool to see who ends up with DeVito’s wife. DeVito wins the match, but his wife still ends up going with Dreyfuss, as the two had a much better relationship than DeVito and her. The two men end up losing their sales licenses and after both see each other with nothing, they go into business together and work together.
6. Romancing the Stone (1984)
Another time we see Danny DeVito share the screen with Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner is here where DeVito kidnaps Turner’s sister for ransom. DeVito holds Turner’s sister in Colombia. Douglas is there and assists Turner in the search to find her sister, and DeVito soon finds himself following Turner but ends up in a car accident, that allows Douglas and Turner to meet. After trying to stay away from corrupt cops, Douglas and Turner decide to look for an emerald.
They find the emerald but are still being chased by both the corrupt cops as well as DeVito. After all three groups come together, a huge fight ensues that sees the corrupt cops and DeVito’s gang fighting each other. During the madness, a crocodile steals the emerald and starts to try to escape. Turner’s sister is found and the crocodile runs off with the emerald, Douglas jumps in after it. He then follows Turner to New York City and they live life planning to sail around the world together.
5. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
Both fans and critics alike were able to agree that this film was not only one of DeVito’s best films but also one of the best films ever made. While DeVito did not have a huge role in the film, he was already in character as Martini, a psychiatric patient who is away for his childish delusions, as he was formerly in the off-Broadway production as the same character. The film crushed it at the box office as well as winning six Golden Globe Awards in 1975.
4. Ruthless People (1986)
Going from a serious role to a comedy is one of the abilities that DeVito has as an actor. His talents were showcased as he plots to kill his wife in order to get her money. However, as he is about to kill her, his wife happens to be kidnapped and held for a ransom. DeVito’s character is perfectly okay with this, as it would make him look innocent and he would still get the money.
His wife befriends the kidnappers and plots to get back at DeVito after learning about his plans to have her killed and his affair. DeVito ends up being thrown into the water while his wife celebrates with the kidnappers that they have gained Sam’s fortune. The film got DeVito a Golden Globe Nomination and showcased DeVito’s talents again.
3. Throw Momma From the Train (1987)
DeVito was able to show his talents both as an actor and a director in this film and he once again proved that he was a force to be reckoned with. Danny DeVito and Billy Crystal star as DeVito wants to kill his mother, whom he still lives with, and Crystal wants to kill his wife for taking credit for his success. DeVito’s character takes it a little too far and kills Crystal’s ex-wife with the hopes that Crystal will kill his wife in return.
When Crystal is about to kill DeVito’s mom, DeVito has second thoughts and saves her. Crystal then learns about the fact that his ex-wife survived the attack. First annoyed, Crystal is told that he should instead write a book about his experience. DeVito also writes a book, and both become best sellers. Fans loved the film as did the Golden Globes, as DeVito earned himself yet another nomination.
2. Batman Returns (1992)
Becoming one of the most memorable and iconic villains from a superhero movie is not an easy thing to accomplish, yet, DeVito’s performance as the Penguin is still talked about today as one of the best villain performances of all time. Penguin is also unlike most villains as fans were wanting to rally around him due to the sad nature of his backstory. Penguin is given away by his parents at a young age due to his unnatural appearance, so Penguin takes matters into his own hands and starts to terrorize the city that made him feel shameful and abandoned him. Regardless, DeVito was perfect for the role and did not disappoint.
1. Matilda (1996)
Another example of DeVito’s skills in acting and directing takes place in his most memorable film. DeVito was able to properly show what Roald Dahl had in mind when writing this story. DeVito and his wife are the parents of a gifted child, who they do not like. DeVito sees his daughter reading a book, which infuriates him and makes him force her to watch game shows.
DeVito also sells a car to a school principal in order to admit his daughter and make her life miserable. DeVito becomes under investigation by the FBI for illegal car dealings, which forces him and his family to flee the country. This movie has become a sort of cult classic, and with the announcement that the movie is being remade again, fans are excited and cannot wait to see the film.