There’s nothing quite like a well-written road trip movie to bring out the best in an actor. And when that actor is already one of the best in the business, it transforms the movie into something special. Perhaps the best example of this is Midnight Run, a road trip comedy classic starring Robert De Niro that you can stream on Netflix today.
What is Midnight Run about, though? The plot involves Robert De Niro playing a bounty hunter who is hired to simply locate a mob accountant and bring him back to Los Angeles. The job is supposed to be an easy “midnight run,” but it isn’t long before everyone from the mob to the FBI is out to make the bounty hunter’s life a living hell.
Robert De Niro stars in Midnight Run, now streaming on Netflix.
It’s a setup in the fine tradition of late ‘80s/early ‘90s entertainment…think Blues Brothers meets Goodfellas, and add just a pinch of Cannonball Run. In short, it’s the kind of madcap comedy that’s perfect to put on when you need a good laugh or want to feel like you’re riding shotgun with some of your favorite actors. And speaking of favorite actors, this movie is an early example of Robert De Niro being surprisingly great in comedic roles.
Besides Robert de Niro (and that’s one hell of a besides), Midnight Run has a number of other major stars that are sure to keep you entertained. Chief among them is Charles Grodin: he plays the accountant that De Niro is sent to retrieve, and their hilarious scenes form the cornerstone of this road trip comedy. There are also some big names filling out the supporting cast, including the always-excellent Yaphet Kotto and Joe Pantoliano.
Thanks to this financial success, the film got three different direct-to-TV sequels, and a theatrical sequel was announced as recently as 2021.
If you’re already a big fan of Robert De Niro, you may want to watch Midnight Run because it’s a pivotal film in the actor’s history. After perfecting the Hollywood badass in The Untouchables, De Niro decided that he wanted a change of pace and would like to try his hand at a comedy.
To this end, he actually tried to snag the lead role in Big (a role that eventually went to Tom Hanks), and may we say, that movie would have been insanely different with someone as intense as De Niro as its lead.
Obviously, Robert De Niro didn’t land the role in Big, but the fact that he wanted it so bad effectively signaled to Hollywood producers that De Niro was ready to be a comedic lead. As fate would have it, Martin Brest (best known for directing Beverly Hills Cop) had developed the script for Midnight Run. This story was designed with a mixture of action and comedy, and De Niro was selected as the perfect lead actor to help bridge those two different genres.
Finding the right big name to pair with Robert De Niro proved a bit more difficult, however. The director and the studio kept pitching different names back and forth, and some of the names suggested included Robin Williams, Bruce Willis, and even Cher. However, Charles Grodin got the job for the simple fact that he had amazing chemistry with De Niro during his audition.
It’s a setup in the fine tradition of late ‘80s/early ‘90s entertainment…think Blues Brothers meets Goodfellas, and add just a pinch of Cannonball Run.
Fortunately for Robert De Niro, the director and the studio’s faith in his ability to lead an action comedy paid off, quite literally. Against a budget of only $35 million, Midnight Run went on to earn $81.6 million. Thanks to this financial success, the film got three different direct-to-TV sequels, and a theatrical sequel was announced as recently as 2021.
And if Robert De Niro’s comedic chops ended up impressing general audiences, they really ended up impressing critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, Midnight Run has a wildly high critical score of 95 percent. Critics praised the film from start to finish and particularly lavished praise on the oddball duo of De Niro and Grodin, whose killer chemistry lights up one scene after another.
Ultimately, Midnight Run more than earns its reputation as the best road trip comedy in Hollywood history. We’ve mostly praised Robert De Niro’s considerable comedic chops, but the movie is also tightly written, impeccably directed, and even has a soundtrack from Batman maestro Danny Elfman. Come see what the fuss is all about by streaming this hit film on Netflix today.