Lisa Schwarzbaum
February 25, 2000 AT 05:00 AM EST

Drowning Mona

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG-13
runtime
91 minutes
Wide Release Date
03/03/00
performer
Neve Campbell, Danny DeVito, Bette Midler, Casey Affleck, Jamie Lee Curtis, Will Ferrell
director
Nick Gomez
Producer
Danny DeVito
distributor
Destination Films
author
Peter Steinfeld
genre
Comedy, Mystery and Thriller

We gave it an C

As Mona Dearly, a screeching harridan so obnoxious that all her neighbors have reason to want her dead, Bette Midler puts on a flamboyant sneer that establishes the broadly jokey tone of ”Drowning Mona.” But this comic variation on ”Murder on the Orient Express,” set in an imitation Mayberry full of dull-witted Yugo drivers, isn’t nearly as funny as its groovy cast — including Neve Campbell, Danny DeVito, and Jamie Lee Curtis — might lead you to hope.

Like ”The Impostors” or ”Mystery Men,” ”Drowning Mona” is too pleased with its own outrageousness, the actors more eager to goof around in schlumpfy costumes on a low-budget lark than to play their trashy characters with the seriousness such farce requires. Curtis, as a chain-smoking waitress sleeping with both Mona’s wimpy husband (William Fichtner) and boorish son (Marcus Thomas), cavorts like she’s in an ”SNL” skit. At least Nick Gomez, the indie filmmaker (”Laws of Gravity”) who’s also a reliable director of big-cast TV dramas (”Homicide”), distributes the shtick equitably among this big cast. That way, no one star is more of a drowned rat than any other.

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