Projections - Movie Reviews

Drowning Mona Drowning Mona

The folks in Verplanck New York are simple - very simple.  Their common sense appears to be calculated through fog, it never focuses with any logic.

Films which feed on dumbness generally reach for vulgarities based the premise of grossing out the audience and forcing laughs.  Drowning Mona, on the other hand, some how balances the absurd behavior of its characters with such care that many are lovable in their stupidity.  Above all the combination of performances by some fine actors and careful restraint by director Nick Gomez make for a delightful guilty pleasure.

In a town filled with Yugo drivers (that gives a message about their intelligence) we meet Mona Dearly (Bette Midler) a woman who displays a personality which coerces hate.  When she is found at the bottom of the Hudson River in her son's Yugo everyone is a suspect in her murder.

Wyatt Rash (Danny DeVito), the police chief, must sort through the various fables from what is a long list of logical suspects.  He heads a force of men who are quick to run away when they hear a gun fired.  He finds Rona Mace (Jamie Lee Curtis), a 33-year old waitress at a diner that doesn't encourage tipping, is having an affair with Phil Dearly (Mona's husband) and Jeff Dearly (Mona's son).  Bobby Calzone (Casey Affleck), a landscaper and partner with Jeff Dearly, has had his profits drained by Mona; his future wife Ellen Rash (daughter of the police chief) is also effected by Mona's drain on her future husbands income.  Phil Dearly (Mona's husband), who appears unemployed, comments after she drove her Yugo into the Hudson, "You snooze you lose."  He is also having an affair with Rona the waitress.  Jeff Dearly (Marcus Thomas) is Mona's son.  She cut off his hand with a meat cleaver when he attempted to take her beer.  Cubby the local undertaker has what appears to be an after-hours club in his funeral parlor.  Feege (Peter Dobson) the deputy chief has been insulted by Mona during an unpleasant roadside incident.  Lucinda (Kathleen Wilhoite) is the town mechanic, an expert at Yugo repair and a lesbian who has eyes on Ellen Rash.  She also knows the break lines were cut on the Yugo which carried Mona into the Hudson River.

The police chief must wade through this cast of characters who are innocent in their aberrant behavior.  What they do is logical in its irrationality in their eyes.  Phil Dearly can't understand why Rona thinks their affair should not be obvious during the murder investigation.  Rona sees nothing unusual with marrying Phil and continuing her affair with his son after the marriage.  Jeff Dearly's reaction to his mother's death is "what was she doing with my car?"

Drowning Mona bridges the gap; those Dumb and Dumber films have been obnoxious to me up to now.  Mona, through timing and a clever script, had me rolling with laughter.  Watching the people of Verplanck is a great way to consume an evening.

Drowning Mona

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