White-trash receptacle

With a sneer and a wink, Drowning Mona plunges us into a fresh deluge of idiotic Americana

It takes smart operators to make quality entertainment this dumb (and brave ones to dredge up that maddening "Popcorn" single of yesteryear). Although the deadpan eloquence of the dialogue never quite achieves the zenith of Raising Arizona ("Her insides were a rocky place where my seed could find no perch"), the overall effect still tickles the same ribs. There is stealthy precision involved when Curtis blurts that "Good luck doesn't happen to people like us! Good luck happens to Madonna!" The movie may seem blithe and silly, but it's not just Drive Momma Off the Cliff, as it walks a careful line between mean-spirited mockery (Midler, generously ghastly) and affectionate imitation (DeVito).

With projects as focused as this and the sweetly sung Living Out Loud, DeVito keeps establishing himself as an actor of unassuming gravity. Here, his work is particularly convincing, especially in contrast to Affleck. The young dude puts in some wry twists and indulges in a very funny flare-up, but his mush-mouthed delivery quickly grows tedious. Still, even his bewildered squire seems undeserving of the abrupt and vicious threat that Rash eventually lays on him. Anyone who's ever tangled with a mawkish girlfriend's insane daddy will tell you exactly how funny that scene isn't. Perhaps that's why, overall, Drowning Mona scores its other chuckles so well: Its trite trash feels authentic enough to make one squirm.

William Fichtner, Bette Milder, and Marcus Thomas -- the holy trinity of white trash in Drowning Mona
William Fichtner, Bette Milder, and Marcus Thomas -- the holy trinity of white trash in Drowning Mona

Details

Starring Danny DeVito, Bette Midler, Neve Campbell, and Jamie Lee Curtis

Release Date:
March 3

Directed by Nick Gomez

Screenplay by Peter Steinfeld

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