March 7, 2013
Michael Keaton, Marilu
Henner, and Joe Piscopo
Okay now we're talking. It took all the restraint
world, it took a near Herculean effort on my part, but I managed to go
all the way until March before I wrote about Johnny
And that is pretty amazing, considering that Johnny
Dangerously is one of the main reasons I created this list in
first place. In fact, Johnny Dangerously is the only movie I
think of that can legitimately challenge Top Secret for the title of
"The Movie That Mario Has Seen More Times Than Any Other Movie."
No more blue balls. The conqueror has arrived.
if there were two movies that played on an endless loop in the Lanza
basement when I was a kid, they were Johnny Dangerously and Top Secret.
My brother and I LOVED these movies. We watched
and over and over. And what was great was that our parents
even care if we watched them over and over and over, because nether one
was rated R. And they weren't as overtly dirty as something
Beverly Hills Cop or Revenge of the Nerds.
course Johnny Dangerously and Top Secret were both
In fact, in Johnny Dangerously's case it was actually one of
first PG-13 movies in movie history. Top Secret would have
been a PG-13 if that rating had actually existed at
the time. But hey, it didn't, and neither movie wound up
being rated R.
they were both allowed in our house.
And my brother and I just rewatched them endlessly.
Quick, turn the channel. Don't let mom see this part.
If you have never seen it before, Johnny Dangerously is a
parody of a 1940's gangster movie. It stars Michael Keaton as
Irish nightclub owner named Johnny Kelly. Who, because his
is ill and because she needs money for an operation, is forced to join
the local mob and become a lawbreaker. And that's how Johnny
Kelly, legitimate nightclub owner by day, becomes Johnny Dangerously,
notorious gangster at night.
Grownup Johnny with teenage Johnny
first off, I will admit that I have always been a big fan of Michael
Keaton. And I have always been a big fan of Michael Keaton
movies. I loved him in Mr. Mom, I loved him in Night Shift, I
loved him in The Dream Team, he is funny in anything that he has ever
done. And yes I will probably write about all three of those
movies later this year on the countdown.
But Johnny Dangerously? Well Johnny Dangerously was his
ONE could have been Johnny Dangerously but Michael Keaton.
the look, to the walk, to the way he raises his eyebrows. To
swagger. Michael Keaton was absolutely PERFECT for this role.
I mean, people forget this, but at one time in the
mid 80's Michael Keaton was considered a bigger comedic star with more
potential than Tom Hanks. It's true, look it up.
and Michael Keaton were nearly always competing for the same types of
roles in the 80's. And Keaton would usually get them because
was the funnier one and was considered the better actor.
people forget this, but you watch Johnny Dangerously and you are
reminded of how freaking funny he was. It is amazing that he
sort of dropped off the earth so fast once we got to the 90's.
here is the thing. A LOT of people who grew up in the 80's
Johnny Dangerously. This is one of those movies that almost
always shows up on lists like "Favorite Guilty Pleasure Movies."
Or "Most Underrated Comedies." In fact it gets
mentioned as underrated so often that I almost feel
calling it underrated. Because there are so many people out
these days who love it and who will stick up for it.
However, I do have to point this next part out. Because it is
important in understanding the legacy of Johnny Dangerously.
Much like this gif, Johnny Dangerously was a huge bomb.
this movie was a flop. It was a huge stinky flop at the box
office. No one went to see it. No one gave a shit
it. Because, seriously, in 1984, who gave a crap about 1940's
gangster movies? What sort of audience did this movie think
was going to attract? I mean, if you are familiar with Johnny
Dangerously at all, just look at it on paper and try to figure out what
audience this movie was trying to go for.
It is a parody of
gangster movies from the 1940's. Uh, strike one.
sure that was the prime demographic for movies in the 80's.
We need to get all the seventy year olds to come out to the
It is a wacky spoof comedy in the tradition of
Airplane! Yeah, again strike two. I'm sure that is
of movie that older people who grew up on gangster movies are going to
love. Please, more movies with sight gags and pun humor and
It is a light innocent PG-ish comedy that isn't particularly edgy and
was marketed towards kids. Yeah, I'm sure when I was 10 this
the exact kind of movie I wanted to watch. Yay, more gangster
movies! More movies about the Irish Mob! Yes I
certainly like to see Johnny Dangerously over something like The
A classic Airplane!-style sight gag. The year "1935" shows up
on screen and then a car runs over it
yes, Johnny Dangerously was a HUGE flop when it originally came out.
It was one of the biggest flops of the 80's. In
this day you will still hear people say things like "Ha, lol at Joe
Piscopo's movie career!" When they say that they are usually
talking about Johnny Dangerously.
would love to say that I was one of the few brave people who actually
saw Johnny Dangerously in a movie theater. I would love to
that but, alas, I can't. I was like everyone else
thought it looked dumb and who ignored it when it originally came out.
I didn't see it at all until a couple of months later when it
came out on video.
And that was when my transition into being a Johnny Dangerously devotee
first time I ever saw Johnny Dangerously was in Port Angeles,
Washington, of all places. I was spending the night at my
grandfather's house one weekend, and there was a kid who lived next
door to my grandfather who watched a lot of movies. And one
he invited me over to his house to show me this new video that he had
just rented. He said it was called Johnny Dangerously.
Oh please. I don't want to see Johnny Dangerously, I said.
It looks stupid.
No, you gotta see it, Tim promised me. I swear, it will make
Tim invited me over and he showed me the "Your Testicles And
part. Then he showed me Joe Piscopo as Danny Vermin.
he showed me the nightclub robbery and the "no more nodding" gag.
Then he saved the best for last, he showed me the gangster
lacks the basic English ability to swear, Roman Troy Moronie.
remember seeing Roman Moronie for the first time and I just about died.
I had Tim rewind it so I could watch it again. Then
back and told my mom that when we got home we needed to rent a movie
called Johnny Dangerously.
"Is it PG?" she asked.
"Well there's a guy in it who tries to swear but he can't. So
it is basically PG."
And that's how Johnny Dangerously became one of the first VHS tapes I
is NO way to talk about Johnny Dangerously without talking about the
man above, Roman Troy Moronie. Hands down, one of
funniest movie characters ever. In fact even people who have
never seen Johnny Dangerously tend to know about Roman Moronie.
You mention this movie to anyone and that is usually the
thing they say.
"Oh, the movie with the guy who can't pronounce swear words?"
Roman Moronie is the foul mouthed leader of the rival Moronie
Gang. He is the sworn enemy of Johnny Dangerously.
has a temper. He swears a lot. In fact, practically
every other word he says in the movie is a swear word.
But since Moronie is foreign... and since he has a thick accent...
well... the words generally don't come out right. So they
technically -aren't- swear words.
And that is what makes him such a memorable character.
It is also what allowed Johnny Dangerously to keep that PG-13 rating.
Say your prayers, corksoaker
You and the rest of your bastages can gamble. But don't try
no funny stuff, or I rip you bells off and I put em in a sling
It's funny enough that Moronie can't pronounce basic swear words.
But what makes it even funnier is that he is always so pissed
off all the time. Half the movie is Moronie screaming and
cursing and ranting around like a mad man, and he always has
the angriest look on his face. But every other word that
comes out of his mouth is something ridiculous like "bastage" or "ice
hole" or "corksoaker."
Like I said, hands down, one of the ten funniest movie characters of
all time. Even if you don't like movies like Johnny
Dangerously, you gotta see it at least once just to experience Roman
Moronie. I guarantee it will be worth it.
I gonna crush your boils in a meat grinder! I gonna rip you
arms off, I gonna shove em up you ice hole!
Okay, so right there, Johnny Dangerously already has one of the best
secondary characters in movie history. It has Roman Moronie.
And that is on top of the fact that the movie already stars
one of the best comedic actors of the 80's, Michael Keaton.
Oh and then, hey, why don't we just throw in ANOTHER one of the best
secondary characters in movie history.
That's right. Not only does this movie have Roman Moronie.
It also has Joe Piscopo as Danny Vermin.
And this is the magic of Johnny Dangerously.
If Danny Vermin had been in ANY other movie, he is the only character
that you would have remembered. Seriously, put Danny Vermin
in Airplane and he would have been the character that you remember.
Put Danny Vermin in The Naked Gun and he would have been the
standout. Put Danny Vermin in ANY other 80's comedy and he
would have gone down in history as one of the best comedy characters of
But in Johnny Dangerously you only half remember him.
Because he gets overshadowed by Roman Moronie.
You shouldn't hang me on a hook, Johnny.
You know, I have to admit this. The fact that Joe Piscopo has
sort of become a punchline in recent years is something that has always
bothered me. Because he fricking kills in Johnny Dangerously.
He steals every single scene he is in. He manages
to somehow overshadow Michael Keaton, and that is nearly impossible to
do. NOBODY can steal a scene out from under Michael Keaton.
But Roman Moronie does it in Johnny Dangerously, and Joe
Piscopo does it a ton in Johnny Dangerously.
I should also point out that Joe Piscopo was fantastic on Saturday
Night Live, and that Eddie Murphy wasn't the only great SNL castmember
of the early 80's. Joe Piscopo was always right there beside
I mean, come on, people. Let's give the guy a little credit.
He has never been the joke that people think he is.
Joe Piscopo is awesome
Okay I have rambled on enough. Let's just say that I love
Johnny Dangerously, and that I have loved it and quoted it for years.
It was a Mario favorite in the 80's, it was a Mario favorite
in the 90's, and even today I still try to rewatch it every year or so.
Even thirty years later, it is still one of my top ten
favorite comedies. I mean, you want to talk about quirky and
bizarre and quotable, good luck beating this one. Even the
throwaway lines in Johnny Dangerously are memorable.
Thirty years later, I can say "no more nodding!" or "180 hats,
that's a lotta hats" to my brother and it will still make him laugh.
And I know it's not the most politically correct joke in the
world, but the line that follows "But Ma, it's Prohibition!" has always
killed me. And The McCoy Act of 1909 still makes me laugh to
this day. Seriously, all I have to do is see old newsreel
footage of immigrants in America walking around in the 1900s and I will
always think of The McCoy Act. Whoever wrote that joke into
the movie was genius.
And I am not even mentioning the dozens of other things that always
make me laugh in Johnny Dangerously. Like the angry Irish
cleaning woman, the Latin gag when Johnny is walking down
death row, Tommy coloring Oliver Wendell Holmes purple, the Skipper
from Gilligan's Island. Or Ma Kelly. We can't
forget about Ma Kelly. I mean, my goodness, she is nearly as
much of a scene stealer as Roman Moronie or Danny Vermin.
This one's Tommy. He's got his father's eyes. Hand
me a pen.
All in all, Johnny Dangerously has long been one of my favorite movies
and there is a good reason it became a cult favorite. This is
one hilarious quirky little comedy. Yes, it was a bomb when
it originally came out, but a lot of the most popular comedies ever
were bombs when they originally came out. I mean,
nobody watched The Big Lebowski when it originally came out either.
And that is pretty good company to be in.
Johnny Dangerously was never the best comedy of the 80's. And
it was definitely never the biggest hit. But it is a movie
that developed a solid little fan base over the years, and it is easy
to see why. Because the key to any great comedy is its
replayability. To me, a comedy movie's legacy should be
determined based on how many times you can watch it before you finally
get tired of it.
Well here is the thing. I have seen Johnny Dangerously
literally hundreds of times in my life. Hundreds.
And I have yet to get tired of it. I watch
it every time, even thirty years later, and I still laugh at it.
And what is funny is that as good as Michael Keaton is, as
funny as he is, he is actually THE STRAIGHT MAN IN IT. Here
you have one of the funniest actors of the 80's, here you have
the scene stealer to end all scene stealers, and most of the movie he
plays second banana to a bunch of secondary characters who are even
funnier than he is.
Johnny Dangerously is one of those comedies that needs to be treasured.
Did you read the note? It says "Dear Bastages..."
favorite IMDB user reviews about Johnny Dangerously:
Roman Troy Moronie - 22
"Roman Troy Moronie" is my comment on the movie. What else is there to
character really brings out the moron in Moronie. A tough gangster with
an inability to pronounce profane words, well, it seems that it would
have been frustrating to be tough and yet not be able to express
Roman Moronie will go down in the annals of movie history as one of the
greatest of all morons.
There is of course great comedy among the other characters. Michael
Keaton is F.A.H. and so is Joe Piscopo.
I just like the fact that Moronie kept the movie from an "R" rating
because he could not pronounce profanity.
johnny dangerously quote
- 6 January 2007
Even though this movie is quite old, no matter how many times I watch
it, it still makes me laugh.
One particular quote in the movie stands out.
Danny (Joe Piscopo) pulls up to the d.a's office & parks in a
disabled spot, Danny's partner says, "you can't park here, it's for the
Danny replies "I am handicapped, I'm psychotic."
That is one of the many lines in the movie that no matter how many
times you watch, it'll make you chuckle.
Johnny Dangerously stands in my top 5 comedy/spoof movies of all time.
Never has something so
corny been so entertaining! - 12 February 2003
jokes are obvious, the gags are corny, and the characters are walking
caricatures - but I couldn't stop from laughing at his highly
entertaining movie. No matter how many times I see it, I still get a
kick out of this one, and I recommend it highly for all lovers of
mindless entertainment. It contains many quotable moments, and some of
the best sight-gags I've seen to this day. If you've had a bad week and
you need a chuckle, rent this one on your way home Friday night to give
your weekend a good start.
"Hmm... Johnny's getting
laid!" - 28 April 2004
underrated gangster spoof about an essentially good hearted boy who
grows up to be Johnny Dangerously (Michael Keaton), AKA: Johnny Kelly
who uses his ill gotten gains to support his family - his ailing mom
and send his little brother to law school, of all places. Things get
sticky though when an old foe (Joe Piscopo) comes after Johnny and his
girlfriend (Marilu Henner) and Johnny's own brother tries to come after
him as part of his mission to clean up the city.
Lots of great
gags, like Johnny advising kids to chew gum instead of smoking,
Johnny's jail house striped suit, the running gag of Joe Piscopo's
character saying that certain members of his family did something to
him "once... ONCE.", the running gag of Johnny's brother being unable
to resist the temptation of sex, and of course, the fireworks that go
off whenever Johnny gets laid.
I Never Get Tired of This
film! - 24 September 2003
have watched Johnny Dangerously more times than I can count. Aside from
loving Michael Keaton's work, this film stands out as one of the
funniest I have ever seen. "Johnny's" personality and swagger are
delightful to begin with, and the comedy lines produce laughter with
tears in the eyes. My kids told me about this picture first, and I am
indebted to them. Whether he's doing comedy or drama, Michael Keaton
has my heart.
Hey, How about me
getting' knocked out? - 18 May 2008
far as parody films go, there are few that are worth time and energy.
but with a recent resurgence of horrid parodies such as Date Movie and
The Comebacks, it is a breath of fresh air to come back and rediscover
a truly funny farce like Johnny Dangerously.
After his mother
has no end of medical problems, little Johnny goes to work for the mob.
What fallows is a series of gags, most of which work, there are,
however, the occasional flops. But a foreign gangster who can't master
the American language (profanity wise, at least), a rival gangster with
a penchant for shooting his mouth off (...once!), a younger brother
with the D.A. who is out to get Johhny Dangerously, and a hot young
starlet hot for his affections have Johnny busy.
And the viewer
will be busy laughing, for the most part, as every gangster-movie
cliché is skewered by a talented cast and decent writing.
Not perfect by a long shot, but definitely good for a smile on a bad
One of the funniest
movies I've ever seen - 13 March 2006
critically maligned, Johnny Dangerously is one of the funniest movies
I've ever seen. It's a movie that should be watched closely; some of
the funny bits are done in passing and do not have the usual amount of
attention drawn to them. For instance, keep an eye on Michael Keaton's
use of the pricing gun at the pet store...and also on the
documentary-style years that appear at the beginning of scenes. It's
one of those rare movies where the humor hits you unexpectedly, even
though you know it's a comedy. Amy Heckerling, the director, is really
sharp here--If you enjoyed her better known films (Fast Times at
Ridgemont High, Clueless, European Vacation, etc.,) you should give
this one a look.
Michael Keaton is extremely likable in the
title role and the supporting cast (Griffin Dunne, Maureen Stapleton,
Joe Piscopo, Peter Boyle) is excellent. Highly recommended.
C'mon, this is cute AND
funny. - 9 October 2001
of those who voted less than 5 are obviously not fans of clean,
tongue-in-cheek humor. Keaton is brilliant in this - as in most of his
work. This is not a blockbuster, bigger-than-life affair. This is
campy, slapstick humor played out by some of Hollywood's best (and very
versatile) actors. Piscopo was equally on the mark as the top dog
If you want to see the funniest attempt at not really cussing ever
filmed, you gotta see Dimitri do his piece as Moronie.
favorite quotes from Johnny Dangerously:
(get ready, I got a ton of 'em)
The Lower East Side. This really sucks.
The name's Dangerously. Johnny Dangerously.
Lil: Did you
know your last name's an adverb?
I would like to direct this to the distinguished members of the panel:
You lousy cork-soakers. You have violated my farging rights. Dis
somanumbatching country was founded so that the liberties of common
patriotic citizens like me could not be taken away by a bunch of fargin
iceholes... like yourselves.
I got something to stop him.
made it for him special. It's an eighty-eight Magnum.
It shoots through schools.
Johnny Dangerously: Commissioner,
there's all the evidence against me, just like I promised you. Use it.
I'm ready to pay my debt.
[No response from Commissioner]
Hey, how about a thank you?
[Johnny notices that the Commissioner is dead]
Hey, how about me getting out of here?
[Johnny turns to leave but is hit on the head]
Johnny Dangerously: Hey,
how about me getting knocked out?
Bless the saints, it's an ashtray! I've been thinking of taking up
smoking. This clinches it!
Ma Kelly: You've
gotten to be like a daughter to me and I wanna share somethin' with ya.
what's that Mom Kelley?
Ma Kelly: I
go both ways.
This is fargin war!
Open up! It's Ma Kelly!
Dineen: [opens her door] What do you want? Get out of
Ma Kelly: I
got to talk to you.
Dineen: We don't have nothing to say to each other.
Ma Kelly: We
got plenty to say to each other. We got a lot in common.
Dineen: Yeah, what?
Ma Kelly: We
both scrub floors. We're both swell lookers. And neither one of us is
The years hadn't softened Moronie. He continued to murder the English
language, and anyone who got in his way.
this to Johnny on the grapevine. Vermin is going to kill Johnny's
brother at the savoy theater tomorrow night. Got it?
Polly the parrot:
Polly the parrot:
[arrives at prison mess hall and lands on the shoulder of a prisoner]
Vermin is going to kill Johnny's brother at the Savoy theater. Pass it
Prisoner: [to the next
prisoner sitting next to him] Vermin is going to kill
Johnny's brother at the Savoy theater tonight. Pass it on.
Prisoner: [to the next
prisoner, "telephone" style] Vermin is going to kill
Johnny's mother at the Savoy theater tonight. Pass it on.
Prisoner: [to the next
prisoner] Vermin's mother is going to kill Johnny tonight
at the Savoy theater. Pass it on.
[to the next prisoner] [unintelligible] ... at the Savoy.
Pass it on.
a message through the grapevine, Johnny.
Yeah? What is it?
Johnny and the Mothers are playing "Stompin' at the Savoy" in Vermont
Vermin's going to kill my brother at the Savoy theater tonight?!
didn't say that.
No, but I know this grapevine.
[Ma Kelly is pouring drinks for everybody]
Tommy Kelly: Mom,
Ma Kelly: Oh,
shut up! Stop acting like some fag choir boy!
I'm not wearing a bra, Johnny.
Johnny Dangerously: Yeah?
Well that makes two of us.
With a father like "Killer" Kelly, it's a wonder neither of you turned
out to be a piece 'o shit criminal!
[Johnny sees a steaming pot on the stove]
Whatcha cookin' here ma?
With noodles! Great idea!
[In the middle of a trial]
Roman Troy Moronie was responsible for: the Mother's Day Massacre, The
Christmas Day Slaughter, The Lincoln's Birthday Mutilations, and The
Groundhog Day Beheadings!
You shouldn't hang me on a hook, Johnny. My father hung me on a hook
[Leaving a crime scene with his sidekick, Dutch]
Hey doll, how'd you like to make some money?
Dineen: One at a time, or both of you together?
Oh God! How do you get laid in 1930?
How's tricks, Moronie?
What are you doing here, icehole?
Hey, can't a fellow enjoy a night out gambling with some of his pals?
Don't bullshtein me.
[to one of his men]
Search this somanabatch.
Johnny Dangerously: Alright
here it is. Johnny Dangerously is goin' legit.
Member of Dundee's gang:
Johnny Dangerously: Legit.
I'll tell you le-why. Because Johnny Dangerously is really Johnny
Kelly, brother of the D.A., Tommy Kelly.
[narrating in a flashback] Times were good in America.
There was plenty of everything: jobs, security, laughs. America was in
great shape, except for the President, William Howard Taft. Was *he* a
porker. At 310 lbs. he weighed as much as Teddy Roosevelt and half of
William McKinley. Immigrants poured into the country from all over the
world looking for a better life for their children. And over 97% of
them settled into a 2-block area of New York City.
favorite scene in Johnny Dangerously:
Oh don't ask me this. Picking my favorite scene in
Johnny Dangerously is like asking me to pick my favorite child.
at the IMDB
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