ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BOB WADE
“Drowning Mona.” Rated: PG-13. I give it a 4 on a scale of 5.
The Nick Gomez film “Drowning Mona” is a mystery within a mystery.
The plot is certainly a whodunit about the circumstances surrounding the death of Verplanck, N.Y.’s least-popular citizen, Mona Dearly (played by Bette Midler).
Police Chief Rush (Danny Devito) knows a couple of things for sure: (1) the family and most of the town are complete whackos, and (2) Mona’s death was no accident. Somebody cut the brake lines to the car she drove off a cliff and into the river.
As the story unfolds, there is no attempt by writer Peter Steinfeld to conceal the suspected killer. He’s Bobby (Casey Affleck), the most sane of the kooks that inhabit the burg and a young man who just happens to be engaged to the chief’s daughter, Ellen (Neve Campbell).
As Chief Rush investigates, all signs point toward Bobby, but nobody is in any hurry to condemn the likable landscaper for the homicide. In fact, they are thanking him at every opportunity.
But, before anyone gets concerned about the mystery being cleared up too early, the plot takes enough twists and turns to cast serious doubt on how the whole killing incident went down.
This is a funny movie, but it is also a bit crude, especially in its corruption of the King’s English. Its level of vulgarity comes nowhere near that dubiously achieved in “Something About Mary” or “Dumb and Dumber,” but it is a film that will be enjoyed most by people generally not too concerned about a movie’s need for socially redeeming value. It’s just plain fun, even though the viewer must suspend belief a time or two during the film’s 90 minutes.
Several compelling questions surround the characters and plot of “Drowning Mona.” For example, nearly everyone in the town drives Yugos. The only exceptions are Chief Rush (Plymouth) and Bobby (import pickup).
While the opening minutes explain that “a number of years ago,” Yugo chose the town to test its new breed of vehicles, the real mystery is how producers found enough of the most despised cars in American automotive history that still ran to populate the town with them.
A second unexplained phenomenon of the film is the setting, which has a decidedly ’70s feel to it through its wardrobe, hairstyles and music, but uses items that were not available until 20 years later. Most of the soundtrack features Three Dog Night tunes.
The final mystery that surrounds the film is why, with so little substance and a great deal of quirkiness, did I like this movie so much? I guess sometimes the best thing about a film is the fact that it doesn’t take itself very seriously so we don’t have to either.
Bob Wade is a local video enthusiast. The videos he reviews come courtesy of Radio Shack/Quick Flick, 110 N. Main, Hillsboro.