Drowning Mona review by Jackass Tom

Laugh Out Loud Funny

When it comes to comedy, every now and then I like a good low brow. The low brow is a certain type of comedy that doesn’t take a third semester of Calculus to understand. The low brow comedy is something you can watch with your buddies and a case of beer; this atmosphere has been known to enhance the movie watching experience. The low brow film reaches exceptional levels when, within its text, there is close attention paid to detail and character. Dumb and Dumber and Drowning Mona are such films. That’s right exceptional. Even in the slappy movies like Drowning Mona, detail can be finely tuned and then the laughs really start to hurt!

Drowning Mona introduces us the small, white trash town of Verplank in upstate New York. Screen text tells us that it was the testing ground for Yugo’s decades ago. To me, this is the first of few flaws in this film. Being a discriminating audience of low-class taste, it would take me about 20 minutes to realize that every loser in this podunk town drives a Yugo… still. In my opinion, the punch line was pulled out before they even told the joke. One more item of note: Towards the end, everyone jumps into their Yugo’s and takes off. This would have been perfect for Bullit/Ben-Hur style chase scene involving nothing but 6-7 Yugos… but it never happened! For shame! What a wasted moment. Let me move on.

Mona Dearly (Bette Midler) is a disgusting, spiteful, hate filled woman from Verplank who just took a turn for the worse and drove off a cliff. The movie is based around the town’s investigation into her death and the list of suspects is long because everyone hated her. Mona’s widowed husband Phil (hilariously played by William Fichtner), is a pushover, weasely, cheating loser of a guy. Whenever in her presence it seems he is looking at his watch hoping he has to be somewhere soon (ie meeting up with his mistress played by Jamie Lee Curtis in a full mullet ensemble). Bobby Calzone (yeah…his last name is Calzone) is played by Casey Affleck; the least annoying of the Afflecks. He works with Mona’s one armed, buffoon son, Jeff, in a landscaping business. The business isn’t going over well because Jeff does little work and when he does it’s only to run over dogs with his lawnmower.

There are some other ‘major’ hitters in this film including Neve Campell who plays Bobby’s fiancé and Danny Devito who plays Wyatt her father and sheriff of Verplank. Wyatt is the most balanced person in the town by far. It seems he is the only one who might have half a brain in his head and maybe the only one who would be able to figure out the murder mystery. Will Ferrall has a small albeit bizarre part as Cubby the whacked out funeral director. It might be one of Will’s funniest movie parts to date.

The whole town is filled with losers, white trash, and people just wanting to escape. Their interaction with each other is like a Jerry Springer show. When it comes to the Dearly’s its every man for himself and selling out a friend or a family member is an easy process, but none of them are truly smart enough to get a head up on anyone. The major laughs come from their interactions together, and most often their endless insulting of nice guy Bobby Calzone.

But like I said it’s the little details that make this film. The film itself is funny as a film about stupid people. But then you can break it down to what sort of hairstyles everyone has, and what kind of clothes they wear. They there are some of their sick obsessions that they try to hide (the board game of Wheel of Fortune is brought to a new level). Then there is the discussion over how Jeff Dearly lost his hand, and each scenario has to do with him reaching for a different brand of beer. And each one is damn hilarious. Movies like Dude Where’s My Car don’t seem to have this sort of attention to detail. In Dude, the characters are just sun bleached surfer dudes who repeat their 10 words of vocabulary over and over to a ludicrous story line. The funniest part is when they go to a Chinese drive through window and the lady keeps repeating “..and then.” The guys are too dumb to figure it out, but the joke has a life of 6 seconds and there is nothing to take its place. In Drowning Mona, each character has their own set traits and characteristics even if they are total jackasses. Each time they say something in character, or even when they are doing something like wearing a Megadeth t-shirt to a funeral, ITS DAMN FUNNY!

Drowning Mona is not an ‘everybody film.’ You can’t pop it in your VCR and watch it with your kids like Lilo and Stitch. It’s for those that like dark comedies and those that like dumb comedies. And as such the movie does a damn fine job of producing some pretty good gut laughs that can be enjoyed over and over.

8 out of 10 Jackasses
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