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Drowning Mona

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Drowning Mona

Starring: Danny DeVito, Neve Campbell
Director: Nick Gomez
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 90 Minutes
Release Date: March 2000
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: William Fichtner, Casey Affleck, Will Ferrell, Jamie Lee Curtis, Bette Midler, Peter Dobson, Marcus Thomas

Review by John Beachem
½ star out of 4

Have you ever known someone who was so detestable that everyone hated him? Imagine if that person was murdered, who would the suspects be, everyone? Now, imagine if someone, we'll just call him Nick, were to make a movie entirely about a person like this; what kind of movie would that be? Apparently, it would be a movie called "Drowning Mona", one of the most despicable, mean spirited, evil little movies I have ever seen. The only thing that saved this movie from a one star rating, was the presence of Danny DeVito as the only likable character in a movie filled with abhorrent people. "Drowning Mona" managed to cause me to stare, slack-jawed and horrified at the screen during its full running time. There aren't too many films out there which can do that.

Mona Dearly (Bette Midler) is an evil, loathsome creature, whose life is filled with caustic remarks and hate-filled glares. Her husband, Phil (William Fichtner), is a depressed looking man who makes it through life only because of the happiness he finds in his affair with Rona (Jamie Lee Curtis), a local waitress. Then one day Mona's brakes fail while driving along a mountain road, and she flies into the river. Of course, everyone in the town is suspect: Her husband; her one handed son, Jeff (Marcus Thomas); his business partner, Bobby (Casey Affleck); Bobby's fiancee, Ellen (Neve Campbell); and a slew of other people all had plenty of reason to want Mona Dearly dead. Chief Wyatt Rash (Danny DeVito), the local sheriff, must try to determine who the killer might be out of the hundreds of possible suspects.

It's only March, and already a candidate for worst movie of the year has arisen. Seldom have I seen a movie audience so silent during a comedy. On those rare occasions where I was able to tear my eyes from the horrors on display, I would glance about to see other audience members staring at the screen with looks of shock plastered on their faces. "Drowning Mona" is an amazingly evil, twisted movie, which nearly gives "Very Bad Things" a run for its money as most disturbing film of the past five years. Not only is the movie evil, but its attempts at actual humor fall completely flat. I think that "Drowning Mona" was supposed to be a dark, dark comedy, but it succeeds only in being very dark.

Perhaps most terrifying of all is that the actors involved appeared to be having a grand old time acting like Yugo driving demons (everyone in the film drives a Yugo). Bette Midler is amazingly convincing as the queen of this hell on earth, and her fellow stars, particularly Marcus Thomas ("Palmetto"), are very nearly as loathsome. The running gag with Thomas involves him having a stump for a left hand (pretty funny, huh?). Thomas's character, Jeff, does wonderful things such as run over his neighbor's dog with a lawnmower and hit on a thirteen year old girl. I think this was all supposed to be funny, but if that's the case it failed miserably. DeVito plays the only fully likeable character here - the sheriff with a heart of gold. The truth is, DeVito can't help but be great in any moive, no matter how otherwise terrible it might be ("War of the Roses", for example).

"Drowning Mona" is a waste of both talent and time. I wouldn't wish it on anyone except perhaps Nick Gomez and Peter Steinfeld for creating this heap of garbage. I'll grant you, the two men must have talent because it takes some to create a film so thoroughly revolting. The film runs 95 minutes, which is about an hour and a half too long. I don't recommend it to anyone, anywhere. If you're really desperate to see Bette Midler in something new (and I mean desperate enough that you're going to die without seeing her), I'd still suggest you wait for video or at least catch a matinee. With any luck, "Drowning Mona" will be out of theaters in a few weeks. I give this sorry movie one and a half out of five stars.

Copyright 2000 John Beachem

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