Shake the Scene: Johnny Dangerously


Johnny Dangerously (1984)

Johnny_Dangerously_movie_posterThe Scene: Roman Moronie butchers the English language

Why I Love This Scene: I’m hoping that in a few short weeks the great Michael Keaton wins his first best actor Oscar (not that I care for the fargin Oscars but it’s nice when the right actor wins). Johnny Dangerously was my first real exposure to the acclaimed actor and is still till this day a guilty pleasure of mine. It’s a 1930s gangster spoof directed by Amy Heckerling and stars a slew of great comedic actors like Peter Boyle, Griffin Dunne, Maureen Stapleton, Danny DeVito and Dom DeLuise. And surprisingly Joe Piscopo is hilarious in this as well. Marilu Henner is also great and somehow Dick Butkus has a role too. Back in the early days of cable this was one of those “PG-13” comedies that me and my folks can enjoy together. I missed most of the jokes of course and appreciated it more when I grew up. But it’s still very quotable in my circle of friends. I actually tried to show this gem to my college buds one day because they never seen it and they actually made me turn it off because they just weren’t laughing! I was so heartbroken that I immediately stopped hanging out with them and paid a computer science major to change their grades so they flunked out of school. That may have been an over-reaction I can see that now. Maybe this is one of those flicks that you had to see and ingrain into your brain at an early age to appreciate for the future perhaps? I don’t know. It has been a long time since I’ve seen the whole thing so maybe we’ll watch it for a What Were We Thinking one day. But I still love it despite it’s nostalgia factor.

But back to the scene. Yes, probably the best character in the film, Roman Troy Moronie played by a Richard Dimitri who is an ambiguous immigrant gangster boss and speaks in broken English—only when he uses dirty language and cuss words. I always found this hilarious, well basically because I could actually use these words since they aren’t actually swear words. Even as a young kid I knew what he really meant so that made it funnier. I also have a fond memory of my folks finding this dumb recurring joke funny. When the film found a resurgence on cable in the 90s, I had a friend who loved to talk just like Moronie after he watched the film. He loved the character that much. Probably another reason why this movie is a gem in my personal opinion despite what people think. I just looked up Richard Dimitri on imdb and sadly he hasn’t done much film work. This is the only movie I ever seen him in—which is shocking since I think his Moronie is hysterical. I may have to check out a lesser-known Richard Dreyfuss movie called Let It Ride since Dimitri plays a fella named Tony Cheeseburger! 

7 thoughts on “Shake the Scene: Johnny Dangerously

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