A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the movie includes sexual references and situations (including a brief shot of a couple in bondage outfits), an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, a character's hand being chopped off (and many shots of the stump), a lot of drinking and smoking, a girl/girl kiss, a threatened suicide, and, of course, murders.
What's the story?
Mona (Bette Midler) is a harridan universally despised by everyone in her small New York town. Her Yugo drives off a cliff into the water, and no one seems too upset. The town mortician notes, "I've seen people more upset over losing change in a candy machine." When it turns out that the brakes were tampered with, almost everyone in town is a suspect, including her husband and son, the waitress who is having affairs with both of them, and her son's business partner. A kindly police officer with an affection for Broadway musicals (Danny DeVito) drives all over town in his Yugo trying to sort it all out.
Is it any good?
Maybe they thought they were going to make another Fargo; that's the only possible explanation for the time this talented cast spent making this awful movie. There are movies that paint small town America as an idyllic oasis of charming quirkiness and family values. Then there are movies like DROWNING MONA that portray it as teeming viper pits of stupidity, cupidity, and sex in cheap motels.
Any movie that tries to wring humor with Yugos and funny character names (Mona Dearly, Officer Rash, Bobby Calzone) is going down for the third time, and no one should bother to throw it a life preserver. There are a couple of funny lines, and the cast is game, but it just doesn't work. In keeping with the 1970s setting, Casey Affleck has a doe-eyed Shawn Cassidy look. Neve Campbell, as his fiancee, shows a nice asperity and a light touch with comedy. Midler is disappointingly uninteresting as the title character, and the ultimate resolution of the murder mystery is both obvious and unsatisfying.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: March 3, 2000
- On DVD or streaming: July 25, 2000
- Cast: Bette Midler, Danny DeVito, Neve Campbell
- Director: Nick Gomez
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 96 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some thematic elements, language and brief sexuality
- Last edit: May 19, 2003
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.