Danny DeVito and Billy Crystal as Owen Lift and Larry Donner in 'Throw Momma from the Train'
Photo via Orion Pictures

The 10 best Danny DeVito movies, ranked

Here are the 10 best Danny DeVito movies you should watch, like, yesterday.

Danny DeVito is, was, and always will be, one of the most iconic actors in Hollywood. Thanks to his extensive acting range and prolific star power, he has made waves in the film industry as far back as the ’70s. He gained prominence as Louie De Palma in the television series Taxi (1978–1983), which won him both a Golden Globe and an Emmy Award. One of DeVito’s longest-running roles was as the character Frank Reynolds on the FX and FXX sitcom It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia; and while we’d love nothing more to include that iconic show on this list, we’re here to talk about movies. From action to comedy, there is truly nothing that he can’t do, as proven by the following list of eclectic films. With an actor as prolific as DeVito, it was hard to narrow it down, but we tried our best.

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Here are the 10 best Danny DeVito movies, ranked (by how much we love them — phooey to the critics).

10. Twins (1988)

This film doesn’t often make the top 10 best Danny DeVito movies list, and I personally think that is a shame. Is it the best thing you’ll ever see? No. But is it so wildly hysterical that it’ll have you in stitches? Yes, yes it will. Arnold Schwarzenegger and DeVito star as — you guessed it — twins, each born of the same scientific experiment. They are separated at birth, and live their entire lives apart from one another until one day Schwarzenegger’s character, Julius, seeks out his twin, who just so happens to be in jail, to team up and find their long-lost mother. The film didn’t go over well with the critics, but who cares what they say anyway? It’s the fans that matter, and this film was a hit with this particular fan.

9. The War of the Roses (1989)

Danny DeVito stars alongside Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner in this darkly rich comedy. DeVito plays Gavin D’Amato, a lawyer who is working with a young couple planning on getting a divorce. As he begins sharing the story of one of his previous clients, things start to get out of hand and before we know it, everything devolves into pure and utter chaos. It’s not your go-to romantic comedy for Valentine’s Day, so be warned. But it is the perfect film for any pessimist wondering if there truly is such a thing as true love. As a matter of fact, go ahead and watch this on Valentine’s Day. I have a feeling it’ll be that much funnier. Oh, and DeVito directed this one, so you know it’s good.

8. Tin Men (1987)

Danny DeVito and Richard Dreyfuss are bitter rivals salesmen in Baltimore who sell aluminum siding. Both are willing to do anything and everything to close a sale, and both couldn’t care less if they cross the moral (or legal) line with one another. The film is Dreyfuss at his funniest and DeVito at his finest. Best of all, it has that kind of ending that gives you faith in humanity. After you fall into the well of cynicism from The War of the Roses, come watch this. You’ll feel a ton better, trust me.

7. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

Let me preface this by saying the only reason this movie is not higher up on the list is that this is a Danny DeVito article and not a Jack Nicholson one. Still, it takes a legend to steal a scene from Nicholson and DeVito did just that as the psychiatric patient Martini (a character DeVito also happened to play in the 1971 off-Broadway production of the novel adaptation). Both fans and critics alike were wowed by the film, which went on to win six Golden Globe Awards and crushed it at the box office.

6. Romancing the Stone (1984)

Here is another film in which Danny DeVito shares the screen with Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner, although this one technically came first. DeVito shines as the morally shady antique smuggler who will stop at nothing to get his hands on a treasure map, even if that means kidnapping an innocent lady. The movie became a box office sensation, raking in over $86 million at the box office (in 1984, mind you), and a personal favorite of mine I like to turn back to when I need a good film to get me out of a movie slump.

5. Matilda (1996)

A classic, I tell you! Another example of DeVito’s skills in acting and directing on full display here. DeVito and Rhea Perlman play husband and wife duo Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood. They are the parents of the telekinetically-gifted child, Matilda, played by the adorable Mara Wilson. DeVito’s character hates his daughter, to put it plainly, and we, as a result, do not like him. There’s not much to say about this film that hasn’t already been said, but we’ll just say this instead: DeVito was born for this role.

4. Ruthless People (1986)

There’s a lot to love about this film. Is it perfect? No. Does it make you laugh? Is it twisted? 100%. Going from a serious role to a comedy is one of DeVito’s most underrated abilities as an actor. His talents were fully showcased here as his character plots to kill his wife in order to get her money, but right as he’s about to go through with it, she is kidnapped and held for a ransom. Money in exchange for the very thing you don’t have to dirty your hands with doing anymore? A win-win wouldn’t you say? Not so much… The film nabbed DeVito another Golden Globe Nomination for Best Actor although he unfortunately walked away (unfairly!) empty-handed again.

3. Hercules (1997)

Personally, I don’t see this movie on enough Top Danny DeVito Movie lists. The misconception that animation isn’t cinema sadly prevails. Just take a gander at this work of art, specifically DeVito’s portrayal of the half-man, half-goat Philoctetes, or as we like to call him, Phil. Few animated characters have shot off the screen as vividly as DeVito’s Phil. Without a doubt, his movie will (and should) go down as one of his greatest achievements — if it hasn’t already — just as Robin Williams did with the Genie in Aladdin.

2. Throw Momma From the Train (1987)

I will admit, this film doesn’t always fly this high on most other Top Danny DeVito Movie lists, but it’s a personal favorite of my father’s, and as such I’m obligated to rank it near the top lest I get an angry phone call from the pops for not recognizing peak cinema if it slapped me in the face.

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. Billy Crystal and Danny DeVito shine as respective student and teacher determined to carry out a murderous deed that would normally be nonsensical if it wasn’t so hysterical (spoiler: the title gives it away). The film earned DeVito a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor and the title of my father’s favorite DeVito film to date. Well, except for the following entry.

1. Batman Returns (1992)

Anyone who doesn’t have this movie at the top of their Danny DeVito list is just plain wrong. Respectfully, of course. Becoming one of the most memorable and iconic villains from a superhero movie is not an easy thing to accomplish (just ask Jared Leto, who just couldn’t quite pull off what Heath Ledger managed to do with the Joker). Yet DeVito’s performance as the Penguin is still talked about to this very day, and there’s no question as to why. DeVito walked the fine line of drama, comedy, and horror and did so with immaculate precision to such an extent that at some points he managed to exude all three in a given scene. Without a doubt, Batman Returns is one of his best films ever, if not the best. Argue with me, I dare you.


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Andrew Dupont
Andrew Dupont is a college graduate who enjoys writing about anything comic book and anime related.
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Cody Raschella
Cody Raschella is a Staff Writer and occasional Editor who has been with WGTC since 2021. He is a closeted Swiftie (shh), a proud ‘Drag Race’ fan (yas), and a hopeless optimist (he still has faith in the MCU). His passion for writing has carried him across various mediums including journalism, copywriting, and creative writing, the latter of which has been recognized by Writer’s Digest. He received his bachelor's degree from California State University, Northridge.