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