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Is This Danny DeVito's Worst Movie Ever?

Most everyone would agree that Danny DeVito is an international treasure, and the actor has proved his worth on a nigh-annual basis since the 1970s. From his excellent performance as Martini in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" to his ongoing role as the depraved Frank Reynolds in "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," DeVito has shown time and time again that he can take virtually any role and turn it into gold. A genuinely creepy and tragic Penguin in "Batman Returns"? No problem. Arnold Schwarzenegger's long-lost twin brother? You bet. A beleaguered divorce lawyer in the highly acclaimed black comedy about a toxic couple, "War of the Roses," which DeVito incidentally also directed? Why, absolutely!

That being said, no one can act as long as DeVito has without the occasional misstep. As such, even his extremely commendable résumé includes the occasional stinker. But which one of his movies is so horrid that it actually makes DeVito himself look bad? Could this be Danny DeVito's worst movie ever? 

Going Ape! earned Danny DeVito a Razzie nomination

The Razzies, more formally known as the Golden Raspberry Awards, are an awards ceremony held to "celebrate" the worst movies of a given year. However, they aren't always an accurate assessment of what makes a cinematic endeavor truly awful. In 1980, undisputed movie-making genius Stanley Kubrick got a Razzie nod for a little movie called "The Shining." Per ScreenRant, Danny DeVito himself earned two Razzie nominations in 1992: one for directing the admittedly underwhelming (52% on Rotten Tomatoes) "Hoffa," and one for ... his masterful role as the Penguin in Tim Burton's "Batman Returns." 

But there are two DeVito Razzie nominations that are more deserved than his chilling take on the famous Batman villain. One of them, 2006's "Deck the Halls," has a measly 6% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but since it's a lighthearted holiday comedy and those are often cheesy, it seems unfair to compare it against regular movies. Besides, at least it doesn't have apes.

In 1981, a much younger DeVito starred in a comedy called "Going Ape!", in which a young man called Foster (Tony Danza) inherits his father's millions ... but only if he agrees to take care of three orangutans. DeVito plays Foster's father's manservant Lazlo, who remains extremely devoted to his former employer's philosophy. Apart from the sort of antics you'd expect from an ape-themed comedy, the movie also features a villainous zoology society that's trying to get rid of the primates — and, as the New York Times attests, very few laughs and an underwhelming plot. 

To its credit, though, "Going Ape!" does feature the considerable comedic talents of Jessica Walter and DeVito, both of whom elevate the material the best they can. The fact that DeVito was one of the better things in the movie and still got a Razzie nod gives you an idea of the rest of the movie's charms.