Owen Gleiberman
October 29, 2003 AT 05:00 AM EST

Die Mommie Die

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
90 minutes
Limited Release Date
10/31/03
performer
Philip Baker Hall, Jason Priestley, Frances Conroy, Natasha Lyonne
director
Mark Rucker
author
Charles Busch
genre
Comedy

We gave it a B-

Intentional camp tends to weigh down the screen like soggy fruitcake, so one can be forgiven for cringing at the prospect of Die Mommie Die! It’s based on a play by its star, Charles Busch, who puts on a frowsy brunet wig to play Angela Arden, a fallen ’50s pop diva who presides over a family of warring hysterics.

At first, the chintzy, lavishly layered fusion of ”Mildred Pierce,” ”All That Heaven Allows,” and ”What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” makes you think you’ve wandered into Mel Brooks’ ”Far From Heaven.” Busch, looking like a depressed Stockard Channing, throws his tantrums with breathy ”aristocratic” hauteur. Yet the movie winds up walking a line between put-on pastiche and kitsch passion, and Jason Priestley is perfect as a brooding lunkhead of Tab Hunter gigolo-osity.

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