Friday, March 3, 2000
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 108

Cougar Comics Online
Film Review: The Next Best Thing

Remarkable etchings by Lucian Freud displayed at UH's Blaffer Gallery


About the Cougar

New comedy Drowns in lousy acting

Drowning Mona

Destination Films
Danny DeVito, Bette Midler, Neve Campbell, and Jamie Lee Curtis
MPAA Rating: PG-13

Grade: C+

By Erica Shillings
Daily Cougar Staff

"Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead."

Drowning Mona, a film directed by Nick Gomez, takes place in a small town named Verplanck, where everyone has two things in common.

One: everyone owns a Yugo with a personalized license plate. Two: nobody likes Mona Dearly.

Even though Mona Dearly (Bette Midler) is killed off within minutes of the opening scene, she is then shown throughout the film in a series of flashbacks provided by fellow characters.

After Mona and her Yugo take a plunge in the Hudson River, odd feelings begin to surface. The feeling that is shared is that nobody seems to feel badly about this woman's death. The people of this bizarre community celebrate rather than mourn.

When Police Chief Wyatt Rash (Danny DeVito) is sent to investigate the crime scene, he has the suspicion to believe that everyone is too happy about Mona's death and has a local mechanic look over the car. Rash later finds out that the brakes were rigged for this accident to occur. Once fingers are pointed, Rash has more suspects than he knows what to do with.

Everyone seems to have their own personal reasons for wanting Mona Dearly dead. She was a terrible woman who had problems with everyone she came in contact with.

Rona (Jamie Lee Curtis), a 33-year-old waitress, has a special relationship with Mona's husband Phil (William Fichtner), as well as her son Jeff (Marcus Thomas). Mona made life miserable for Jeff's business partner Bobby Calzone (Casey Affleck) and his fiancée Ellen (Neve Campbell).

As the suspect list increases, people begin to give their own versions of stories that might lead to the guilty party.

Drowning Mona had its funny moments, such as when "Saturday Night Live's" Will Ferrell enters the scene. With his sinister laugh and psychotic eyes, he plays Cubby the local undertaker. Ferrell is the highlight of the movie, even though his part is fairly short.

The majority of the jokes were based around the fact that Jeff Dearly has only one hand. And just when you think you know the ending, an odd twist takes place.

It was entertaining but not as funny as most may have thought it would be. With such an impressive cast of familiar faces, one would have expected better acting. DeVito was the only one who truly showed his acting ability. Others seemed to overact the stupidity that their characters were given.

In short, the film is a hillbilly white trash version of the game Clue. It's just a matter of who did it.

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