More so than with other films, it's usually a bit difficult to place one's finger on exactly why dark comedies frequently fail. I think it comes down to this: film directors, actors, and pretty much anybody having to do with filmmaking in Hollywood has become so accustomed to kissing the ass of the audience and trying to fit their film into some sort of convenient package that they've lost their ability to be cruel, sickening, and offensive. This is why I believe director Nick ("Laws of Gravity") Gomez should be sodomized by a Puerto Rican gorilla.
At some point during "Drowning Mona," Nick came to the unfortunate conclusion that the audience would actually give a crap about the mystery of who killed Mona Dearly (Bette Midler), the least popular resident of Verplanck, New York. The candidates are Bobby Calzone (Casey Affleck), Mona's husband, Phil (William Fichtner), her son, Jeff (Marcus Thomas), and Phil's lover, Rona (Jamie Lee Curtis). Investigating the crime that emerges after Mona drives her Yugo off a cliff is Chief Wyatt Rash (Danny Devito), whose daughter, Ellen (Neve Campbell), is about to marry Bobby.
Apparently, Yugo made Verplanck some kind of testing town, so everybody drives a Yugo, which yelled "loser" louder than any other car since the Corvair. Watching people drive around in Yugos gets old when it becomes a substitute for humor. In other words, somebody figured that the Yugo would solve any problems they might have had with plot or character development or writing since the audience would be so overcome with amusement from watching the Yugos that they would forget the simple fact that the film was deteriorating into a big pile of dung.
And here's a simple principle which the filmmakers seem to forget: stupid people do stupid things. This is something of a tautology that the audience implicitly understands. So, it gets just a bit old when you rely on these stupid things for your laughs, because after the first five minutes, it's pretty much a given that the lovely people of Verplanck are going to remain stupid for the entirety of the film. Thus, in the end, Gomez turns to the mystery of Mona's death for help because he has nothing else.
To spread the word about this Drowning Mona review on Twitter.To get instant updates of Mr. Cranky reviews, subscribe to our RSS feed.