Drowning Mona - Internet Movie Database Drowning Mona - Nitrate Online Review
Contents | Features | Reviews | Books | Archives | Store
Drowning Mona - Nitrate Online Store
Movie Credits Buy It!

Drowning Mona

Review by Joe Barlow
Posted 17 March 2000

Directed by Nick Gomez
Starring Danny De Vito, 
Bette Midler, Neve Campbell, 
Casey Affleck, 
Jamie Lee Curtis

Written by Peter Steinfeld

Nick Gomez's Drowning Mona is the best TV sit-com I've ever paid seven bucks to see. If there's ever been a film more deserving of the epitaph "Wait for video," I can't think of it. Indeed, the movie feels so much like a mediocre offering from the Fox network that watching it on the big screen just seems... well, wrong somehow. All that's missing is the cheesy laugh track.

Drowning Mona is the latest entry in the saturated "black comedy" genre, and takes its place alongside such crowd-pleasing chestnuts as Drop Dead Gorgeous and Throw Mama from the Train, although it pales in comparison to either one. The story: Chief Rash (Danny De Vito) is a detective in the sleepy town of Verplanck, NY, investigating the murder of a much despised townswoman, the ironically-named Mona Dearly (played with pleasantly malicious gusto by Bette Midler, in a series of flashbacks). The twist in this rather mundane story is that every single person in Verplanck had a motive for killing her, and after we see a few flashbacks, we understand why they might take matters into their own hands: she's a monster.

So what's the problem? Easy: we simply don't care who committed the crime. It's made so abundantly clear that the town is much better off now that she's dead that it's hard to be interested in discovering the identity of the murderer -- unless, of course, we want to send him or her a thank-you card. It's very difficult to make a convincing mystery/comedy, and Drowning Mona stumbles by trying to be both a first-rate detective story and a laugh riot. Unfortunately, by trying to embrace both genres, director Nick Gomez has mired himself too deeply in convention. Tedious mystery subplots continuously interrupt the funniest moments, and vice- versa, while actor Danny De Vito is essentially wasted in a role that requires him to do little more than look grim, nod, and walk around. How unfortunate to waste De Vito's comedic talents in a film that could have used them!

There are some good moments to be found, though: a lot of the jokes are genuinely funny, and -- apart from De Vito -- the performances are a lot of fun, even if everyone in the movie is essentially a caricature of stereotypical small town residents, much like the characters in the much better Drop Dead Gorgeous. But regrettably, the movie isn't able to escape its own gravitational pull, and collapses in on itself when trying to break free from the clichés and stereotypes that comprise it. Drowning Mona isn't horrible, but it's a lot cheaper to just stay home and watch sit-coms instead. Less crowded, too.

Contents | Features | Reviews | Books | Archives | Store
Copyright © 2000 by Nitrate Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



www.nitrateonline.com  Copyright © 1996-2005 by Nitrate Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.