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by Joe Soria
I don't know what it is but for some reason Hollywood thinks death is cause for a comedy. Remember Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead, or more recently the mobster comedies like Analyze This, The Whole Nine Yards, and the true extreme Mafia (a mediocre and very unfunny film). Obviously Drowning Mona has something to do with the immersion of a female into water with the result being death. In other words, someone named Mona drowns. That sounds real funny to me, how about you?
Dearly (Bette Midler) is the menace of the town Verplanc, she’s a big bitch.
Relentlessly annoying and just an overall mean person. When she shows up
dead in the river, no one is very saddened by her death. The town sheriff (Danny
Devito) thinks the whole thing is fishy and starts an investigation in the small
the beginning the film is a whodunit picture that incorporates flashbacks to
establish it's background plus interviews by the chief with the people of the
town to get down to the bottom of the case. These are two major parts in
There are a plethora of suspects in this film. Mona's servile and self-proclaimed battered husband Phil (William Fitchner), her imbecile one-handed son Jeff, and her son's business partner Bobby (Casey Affleck). They were all at odds with her at one time or another. Mona's altercations were often and widespread. Her husband was having an affair with Rhone (Jaime Lee Curtis) ; he might have wanted to off his wife to go with Rhone. Bobby was arguing with her about the depreciation of the landscaping venture he and her son were involved in together. The cause for this loss of money was her son but what did this matter to her. When Bobby hints to firing Jeff, Mona replies either you deal with us or buy us out in her mean tone of voice that she does best. Incidentally, Bobby is soon to be married to Ellen (Neve Campbell), the daughter of the police chief.
film attempts to be a hip, edgy and quirky slapstick, in your face comedy but
ultimately fails and falls into a pit of unoriginality and a sea of overused
plotlines. The film's surprises and twists are completely predictable and very
commonplace in current film, just way too predictable.
Mona as a film ultimately becomes like anyone of it's characters: a piece
of boring, inconsequential, average, trash. The humor is underwhelmingly
dumfounding. Bette Midler yelling and screaming like a madman doesn't do it for
me. Affleck is ineffective in his role. He's soft spoken and outspoken in the
film as his character should be, but he gets lost in the background. This is the
reason his career has been full of bit parts in films like this one and last
year's ensemble crapfest 200 Cigarettes. I do give him credit for his
funny, but short in lines roles in films such as Good Will Hunting and American
Pie but the more he's in the film the less you appreciate him.
Campbell and Jamie Lee Curtis are both unfunny hags in this film. They're in the
film so their names can go on the posters to put people in the seats. I'd never
see a movie just to see Curtis but I would to se Campbell. The funniest roles in
the film were played by William Fitchner and Will Ferrell. Fitchner is very
funny as the unassuming husband of Mona. I've enjoyed his roles in such films as
Contact and Go plus his few seasons on that classic show "Grace
Under Fire" with Brett Butler. Ferrell of "Saturday Night Live"
fame is funny as a horny, old owner of the town funeral parlor. He's just very
strange and odd. His character is what the movie meant to be, oddball, offbeat
and very amusing. The last good part of the film was an ongoing joke involving
the junky Yugo cars. Everyone in the town has a Yugo as part of a trial run for
the company. It's just a very funny joke, that made me laugh a few times
throughout the movie. It's the first thing you hear about in the movie and it is
a lasting joke.
I put most of the blame fro the mediocrity of the film on the writer and producer. The writer, Peter Steinfeld, has little experience in screenwriting at all and none of it is in feature films. On the other hand the director, Nick Gomez, has an excellent resume TV but his film resume isn't too great. He's directed episodes of some of my all time favorite shows like "Homicide", "Oz", and everyone's new favorite show "The Sopranos". The direction of the film has a good look but the acting was just bad and needed some direction. It was probably hard for him to control these big time stars but still his fault.
Mona is a film that really meant to be comical, tried it's darndest but lost
the battle. It lost the battle, the war and anything else it could possibly
lose. A funny setting, some talented cast members, and some good jokes, could
not overpower a weak script, some major overacting and multiple bad jokes.
Stars out 4/ 33 out of 100
Reviewed by Joe Soria
Rated PG-13 for sexuality, language, and implied violence.
Danny DeVito, Casey
Affleck, Bette Midler, Neve
Fichtner, Marcus Thomas,
Jamie Lee Curtis and Will
by: Nick Gomez
Written by: Peter Steinfeld
A good oldies soundtrack, worth a listen.
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