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Overall Rating

Awesome: 5.36%
Worth A Look: 3.57%
Just Average48.21%
Pretty Crappy: 5.36%
Sucks: 37.5%

7 reviews, 14 user ratings

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Drowning Mona
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by iF Magazine

"It runs out of creative gas before a mystery parody should."
3 stars

If comedy in general is hard, the sub-genre of comedy about mean dolts is still harder. The trick for the filmmakers is to make their people and events intriguing and funny enough for us to willingly spend 90 minutes keeping company with characters we’d run miles to avoid in real life. To a surprising extent, the makers of DROWNING MONA pull it off. Director Nick Gomez and screenwriter Peter Steinfeld weave together a tale of outrageous sleaze, bullying and bad behavior that keeps us watching wide-eyed and chuckling despite ourselves most of the way through.

A helpful opening credit tells us that the little town of Verplanck, New York, is where the Yugo was tested. Everyone in town, it seems, still drives one. Mona Dearly (Bette Midler) can’t get her car door open one morning, so she takes her son Jeff’s (Marcus Thomas) vehicle instead. The brakes fail on a treacherous curve and Mona goes sailing off a cliff into the lake. When her body and the car are pulled from the water, two things are quickly clear.

One: the brakes were cut, so this wasn’t an accident.

Two: absolutely nobody is the least bit sorry Mona is dead.

Chief of Police Wyatt Rash (Danny DeVito), the closest thing Verplanck has to a sane citizen, endeavors to discover who might have murdered Mona, but it’s not going to be easy. Her husband Phil (William Fichtner) claims - credibly - that Mona battered him; he was also two-timing her with waitress Rona (Jamie Lee Curtis). Mona was threatening to ruin the already-crumbling landscaping business of Bobby Calzone (Casey Affleck), the nervous young fiancé of Wyatt’s daughter Ellen (Neve Campbell). Ellen is all for celebrating Mona’s demise. Mona and Phil’s son Jeff (Marcus Thomas) is mean, drunk and dumb enough to have killed his mother for the heck of it - or perhaps in revenge for something she did. But who’s the real culprit?

Unfortunately, DROWNING MONA answers this question well before the film ends. When the film shifts gears from being a who-done-it to a cover-up, the plot starts to bog down and inevitably becomes more predictable. However, writer Steinfeld has fun with structure, with RASHOMON-style contradictory scenes illuminating a number of significant incidents.

A running gag involving how Jeff lost his hand makes him a Darwin Award candidate in every permutation. Director Gomez demonstrates a sly, goofy sensibility and smooth comedic timing that his previous feature credits - LAWS OF GRAVITY, NEW JERSEY DRIVE and ILLTOWN - did not suggest he possessed.

DeVito is droll as the calm, perplexed eye of the hurricane. Midler, seen entirely in flashback after the opening accident, makes Mona one of the most gleefully mean cinematic characters to be found this side of the family in TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. She provides exactly what MONA needs in order to work - a victim who is not merely unsympathetic but riotously hateful. Campbell and Curtis contribute amusing variations on self-involved babes who try to see the big picture but don’t know what to do with the facts. Kathleen Wilhoite is a hoot as the shrewd town mechanic.

DROWNING MONA isn’t consistent enough to be inspired - it runs out of creative gas before a mystery parody should - but it does have a lot of smart laughs about dumb folks nonetheless. ---Abbie Bernstein - iF Magazine (http://ifmagazine.ifctv.com)

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=3477&reviewer=119
originally posted: 03/18/00 21:34:17
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User Comments

12/19/08 Mack One of the funniest movies I've ever seen! 5 stars
6/14/06 gsdgs drowning mona was hilarious! one of the best movies ever! 5 stars
3/29/06 A.C. This films is'nt actually about the 'mystery' It is being taught at BU now. 5 stars
2/20/06 suzanne kraus mancuso well, I have seen better! 2 stars
9/25/04 Tor Honolulu There was a moment or three when I was glad I was watching this. You've seen worse 3 stars
4/11/03 Jack Sommersby Unfunny and condescending. Affleck is a catastrophe. 1 stars
9/01/01 Butterbean I hate comedy that turns out to be boring. 1 stars
11/20/00 Monday Morning Definitely has its moments, very much worth a rental. 4 stars
5/30/00 Elvisfan If I laughed four times it was alot; what a waste of talent & money 2 stars
3/30/00 Angel Rei two words: bite it 1 stars
3/14/00 Drano Will Ferrell perpetually cracks me up, even in this small part. 2 stars
3/07/00 Theia www.drowningmona.com: Play the Lawnmower Chase. Kill the doggies. More fun than the movie. 3 stars
3/06/00 LoudChris Simple and worth a few laughs. 4 stars
3/05/00 Captain Highcrime Surprisingly LESS funny than the trailers led us to believe; comic emphasis is misplaced. 3 stars
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  12-Oct-2000 (M)

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