Drowning Mona

dir Nick Gomez scr Peter Steinfeld
with Danny DeVito, Bette Midler, Neve Campbell, Casey Affleck, Jamie Lee Curtis, William Fichtner, Marcus Thomas, Peter Dobson, Kathleen Wilhoite, Tracey Walter, Will Ferrell, Mark Pellegrino
00/US 3 out of 5 stars

Review by Rich Cline
A black comedy about murder, Drowning Mona is quirky and entertaining, even though it never quite gets up enough steam to really take off. But the cast is energetic and terrifically fun to watch, and the story and direction are funny enough to keep us chuckling.

When Mona Dearly (Midler) is found dead in her car at the bottom of the river, Police Chief Rash (DeVito) thinks it's a simple case of bad driving. But then he realises that everyone in town has a motive for bumping off the old battleaxe. Could it be her fed-up husband (Fichtner)? His trashy waitress mistress (Curtis)? Or maybe it's Rona's lame-brained, one-armed son (Thomas)? Or his earnest business partner Bobby (Affleck)? Or even Bobby's fiancee (Campbell), who happens to be the chief's daughter? The list goes on ... and then the body count starts climbing.

The central idea is handled hilariously, as it's quickly clear that everyone is delighted to hear the wicked witch is dead, so who cares whodunit? Midler is a riot in rather unreliable flashbacks, brandishing a frying pan with real flair and gleefully looking plain awful. Affleck brings a hilarious winsomeness to Bobby that of course makes him the prime suspect. The script is wry and very dry, hilariously tapping into a small-town, white-trash group mentality. And while it does get very silly (a running gag about Yugos never really makes sense), at least the filmmakers have a go at making Mona just a wee bit sympathetic.

[adult themes, strong language] 2.Sep.00
US release 3.Mar.00

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"We enjoyed it. Mona Dearly (Midler) is so obnoxious that all her neighbors have a reason to want her dead. Soon, everyone is a suspect. Kind of a comic variation of Murder on the Orient Express. It seems to be set in an imitation Mayberry full of nerdy characters who all drive Yugos. The cast seems to have stepped right out of the 70s. Fun and silly." --Lynette S, California.

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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall