Does anyone remember the 1986 movie Ruthless People? Danny DeVito played a greedy businessman whose wife (played by Bette Midler) is kidnapped by an inept couple from whom he stole a design. The thing is, he was already plotting her murder, so the timing could not be better. Having no desire to free his wife, he does everything the kidnappers cautioned him against; calls the police, calls the media, and goes on camera begging for her life with quite a bit of insincerity.
Meanwhile, the wife is such a royal pain in the arse that after a couple of days the kidnappers are ready to just let her walk. She is rather sarcastic, throwing stinging barbs at the kidnappers, and she whines about the conditions under which she is being held. She refuses to shut up, even talking right through the bandana they put over her mouth. Does this remind you of anyone? Thanks to this movie I have a plan if I ever get kidnapped; be myself.
At first the husband refuses to pay the ransom, and when they still don’t kill her off he starts bargaining for a lower ransom in an effort to get them to kill her. The inexperienced kidnappers negotiate as if they were buying pickles on the lower east side. $500,000 or she’s dead! But, since I’m such a nice guy, $300,000 and I walk and never look back. We’re both from the neighborhood.
The wife gets wind of all this and is super pissed at her husband, so she goes on an exercise regimen in the basement where she is being held captive. She loses 20 pounds and rebuilds both her physical and emotional strength, and then actually joins forces with the kidnappers to rip off her husband.
We’ve certainly covered extreme dieting on this blog before, but I feel like this is a dimension that has not been explored. Dieting at gunpoint is just a jumpstart, followed by being locked in a basement for weeks on end. I can’t imagine this would not be effective for absolutely everyone.
I’m not saying I wouldn’t work my fingers down to bloody nubs trying to get to the box of Oreos on the other side of the door; I’m just saying it wouldn’t work. Plus who knows how much each of my fingers weighs-if that shaves off an extra 5 pounds I’m game. If I did catch a break I would call Dairy Queen before dialing 911.
But the dieting is just part of the fun. What I think I would enjoy most is pretending I was being tortured in an effort to convince Dan to ransom me. Then I remember that when Bette does that in the movie, on the other end of the line Danny DeVito is high fiving his buddies and keeping his fingers crossed that this time they’ll actually kill her. That’s not nice.
If this happened to me Poor Dan would get his hopes up; start making plans for his new peaceful life. He would get in the habit of commanding the remote and watching whatever he wanted without anyone nagging him. He would take out the trash when he damn well pleased. He would fill the house with his most beloved insects. And in a complete collapse of values, he would start listening to…country music. His dream, my nightmare.
When the kidnappers called for ransom, he would flip through his wallet and offer $17.48 (holding back a $20 so he could order a pizza). What is he thinking?? Gotta run, I have a husband in need of theoretical scolding.