84 From ’84: Johnny Dangerously

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Johnny Dangerously

Johnny Dangerously Poster

Set in the 1930s, an honest, good-hearted man is forced to turn to a life of crime to finance his neurotic mother’s sky-rocketing medical bills.


  • Michael Keaton as Johnny Kelly (a.k.a. Johnny Dangerously)
  • Byron Thames as young Johnny
  • Joe Piscopo as Danny Vermin
  • Georg Olden as young Danny
  • Marilu Henner as Lil Sheridan
  • Maureen Stapleton as Ma Kelly
  • Peter Boyle as Jocko Dundee

1984 viewing

I saw this movie once… ONCE.

It had some funny parts but the comedy wasn’t for me. I only saw Micheal Keaton in one movie before this, Mr. Mom and loved it. Keaton was fine and showed the same flair for acting and comedy, I just didn’t like the movie in general.

Let’s see if watching it forty years later changes my mind…

40th Anniversary Re-watch


Still couldn’t get into the movie. It reminds me of a Saturday Night Live skit turned into a movie; it works as a 5-10 minute skit but it’s not 90 minutes worth of material.

Keaton plays the title character, Johnny Dangerously, who ends up working for the local gangster Jocko Dundee. Johnny needs money to pay for his mom’s medical bills and Dundee is the best and quickest option.

It’s a parody of 1930s gangster movies. The parody if OK, it could have been better. They added some 80s elements, like break dancing, that took away from the 30s vibe they were going for.

As a parody it isn’t one of the better ones. By 1984 Mel Brooks already released five parody movies including Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein; ZAZ productions released Airplane! and Top Secret!. Those movies did a masterful job in the parody genre.

Johnny Dangerously Cast

Johnny Dangerously did a good job for about 30 minutes, then it seemed to rinse and repeat. I’ll go back to my SNL analogy, works great for a skit but not a full-length movie.

The acting is good. Micheal Keaton, Joe Piscopo and Marilu Henner all do a great job. The established character actors are good too. There are also a lot of cameos and bit parts for recognizable faces; Dom DeLuise, Dick Butkus Alan Hale, Jr. and Ray Walston to name a few.

Overall, the movie isn’t inherently bad. The acting is solid and it’s amusing, though not hilariously funny. It’s a typical comedy that unfortunately doesn’t quite hit the mark.

Favorite Line:

 Take it easy? I’m standing here with my dork in my hand!

Johnny Dangerously is directed by Amy Heckerling. Two years prior to Johnny Dangerously she made her directorial debut with one of the best teen coming of age movies ever with Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Heckerling would go on to direct movies like National Lampoon’s European Vacation, Look Who’s Talking and Clueless.

Weird Al Yankovic wrote the theme song, “This is the Life” for Johnny Dangerously. Check it out, it might be better than the movie 🤣

Johnny Dangerously was released on 21 December 1984. It made over $17 million on a $9 million budget.

Did you watch Johnny Dangerously? If so let me know your thoughts in the comments below or on X(Twitter). The main Geekster channel is @TRNSocial and I’m @MileHighSamurai You can also find me on Bluesky @MileHighSamurai

5/10 stars

Check out the entire 84 From ’84 movie series

About Pitfall Gary 147 Articles
Just your average Gen X'er. Born in the 70s and raised in the Decade of Decadence! I rode my bike without a helmet and was home when the street lights came on. I love to reminisce about the good ol' days; Movies, TV, music, if it happened in my childhood I'll share it with you.

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