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  drowning mona poster
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Drowning Mona

Rated [PG-13], 91 minutes
Starring Danny DeVito, Bette Midler, Neve Campbell, Jamie Lee Curtis
Written by Peter Steinfeld
Directed by Nick Gomez

IN SHORT: Once sick joke (hee hee hee) after another. . .

. . . and a whole lot of space between 'em makes Nick Gomez' Drowning Mona come up half a load short of half a Farrelly Brothers movie.

The best joke of the bunch is that everyone in the upstate New York town of Verplanck drives a Yugo, and all the cars actually work -- except for the one Mona Dearly (Bette Midler) was driving when she went over the cliff into the Hudson River far below (and that accident weren't no accident, though Gomez's shot (dp: Bruce Douglas Johnson) of the car going to its watery demise, is quite beautiful). From there on in, it's Bette in flashback, mentally physically and/or emotionally abusing every suspect Police Chief Wyatt Rash (Danny DeVito) can come up with.

It's a good list. To be honest about the Grand Harridan of Verplanck -- no one liked the cow. Not her bedraggled excuse for a husband Phil (William Fichter) who, while keeping his marriage vows, sneaks off to the local love shack for some illicit playings of the Wheel of Fortune board game with local diner waitress Rona (Jamie Lee Curtis); Not her dimbulb, lackadaisical moron of a son Jeff (Marcus Thomas) whose lust for Lite, as in Miller, cost him the use of his right hand (how the residents tell the story is one of the highlights of the flick); Not Jeff's partner Bobby Calzone (Casey Affleck) who takes it on the chin from every member of the Dearly family or his fiancé Ellen (Neve Campbell) who giggles hysterically when she hears the news of Mona's demise.

And there's poor Chief Rash, who happens to be Ellen's father, trying to put all the pieces together with the help of an inept staff of deputies and the local car mechanic Lucinda (Kathleen Wilhoite). The deeper the investigation goes, the more likely it becomes that everyone in the town had a motive to do in Ms. Dearly. Agatha Christie did a story like this in the last century, so writer Peter Steinfeld has to come up with something new. While his background is in writing coffee table books like Classics: The Best The World Has To Offer," babbling about Barbie dolls does not necessarily give one the chops to write comedy. Whacky supporting characters (Will Ferrell as Cubby, the local mortician and/or pornographer; the aforementioned deputies and Lucinda) can spark a joke here and there, but the story is weak and not worthy of the supersize popcorn.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Drowning Mona, he would have paid . . .


Rent after getting ripped (or take your chances and get ripped before you buy the ticket. Be warned -- altered states can go both ways, y'know.)

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