At a cost of just $8 million, this darkly slapstick murder mystery about a small-town harridan EVERYONE wanted dead is no one’s idea of a big-budget blockbuster. But to indie director Gomez (”Laws of Gravity,” ”illtown”), it was like a Bruckheimer extravaganza compared with the $2 million no-name comedy he expected to make. The movie’s profile was first raised when Midler agreed to play the titular victim (”She soars as a bitch,” says Gomez), with the caveat that she wouldn’t be the only star carrying the film.
After Bill Murray passed, DeVito — Midler’s partner from 1986’s ”Ruthless People” — signed to costar as the easygoing police chief investigating Mona’s murder. He also agreed to exec-produce the movie under the auspices of his Jersey Films. ”You make offers to stars because you never know, sometimes things click with people,” says Gomez. ”In the indie world it’s a dream come true.”
Even after Curtis and Campbell came aboard (as two of DeVito’s endless list of wronged suspects), Gomez kept costs down, since all four leads agreed to equal pay cuts and back-end deals. And at those prices, no wonder Campbell also did some moonlighting during production, dashing between the sets of ”Mona,” ”Party of Five,” and ”Scream 3.” ”I definitely felt schizophrenic,” she says. ”I was spending a lot more time being three other people than myself.” BUZZ FACTOR: 4
Go to the official website.