Plot: What’s it about?
Mona Dearly (Bette Midler) just drive her car right into the river and never emerged from the accident. This has town in a state of frenzy and the local law enforcement, Chief of Police Wyatt Rash (Danny Devito) with his hands full. While the car wreck seemed like an accident, Rash has discovered that Mona was murdered and now he has to unravel the mystery of who was responsible. But with the town in total chaos over Mona’s death, this won’t be an easy task for Rash. You see the town is not in mourning by any means or even the slightest bit upset for that matter, but they are rejoicing that someone put Mona out of their misery once and for all. From the most prim and proper lady to the lowest of the social chain, all the residents of this small town wanted to see the worst happen to Mona. While certain folks like her unfaithful husband (William Fichtner) and his mistress (Jamie Lee Curtis) come under scrutiny, the entire town had a motive to end her life. With a town full of suspects and a lot of paperwork to do, this is going to be one hell of a case for Wyatt Rash.
I missed this movie at the theaters and was looking forward to seeing in on DVD, so I was eager to give this a spin when the review disc arrived. I thought the trailer was effective and humorous and expected more of the same from the feature, but I ended up getting an average quality comedy at best. When the movie clicks it is hilarious, but when it doesn’t it fails totally which leaves the picture as a whole in limbo in my eyes. I did like the movie, but with so many slow spots and unfunny moments I can’t recommend it for much more than a rental. The basic storyline is solid and though it veers into bad ideas from time to time, I still think it served the audience well. Where the movie missed the mark is with the casting, which allowed some poor performers to get a little too much screen time. Casey “I’m the worst actor on Earth” Affleck stinks up the screen every second he is present and little can be done to salvage those scenes. Other minor casting issues also arise, but on the whole I was pleased with this ensemble. I recommend this movie as a rental and if you like it by all means pick up this disc, which is more than worth the asking price for fans.
This film was directed by Nick Gomez, who has a short resume of work but manages to create a solid technical offering here. While I didn’t care for some casting choices and some of the writing, I was pleased with how Gomez brought all the elements together and made the town seem very real and effective. I wish we could have seen more of the residents, but Gomez makes sure it seems like a small town at all times. The color choices were nice and the camera work is very good also, I look forward to future films from this director. Gomez also directed episodes of The Sopranos and Oz and his feature film works include New Jersey Drive, Illtown, and Laws Of Gravity. This is very much an ensemble cast with no real leads to speak of, though Danny Devito does seem to play the central character. Devito (Screwed, Twins) plays Wyatt Rash very well and seems at home within this simple on the surface character. Some other performers who turn in solid efforts include Bette Midler (Isn’t She Great), Jamie Lee Curtis (True Lies), Neve Campbell (Scream, Wild Things), William Fichtner (Armageddon), and Will Ferrell (A Night At The Roxbury).
Video: How does it look?
Drowning Mona is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, with a full frame version included on the disc’s flip side. The colors seem bold and vivid, with no signs of errors and flesh tones look natural and warm. I didn’t find any fault with the contrast either, as the shadows seem deep and complex and detail level is never obscured. This transfer is free from compression errors and the source print shows few nicks and grain.
Audio: How does it sound?
As with most dialogue driven comedies, this release doesn’t call for dynamic audio although the included Dolby Digital 5.1 track does offer a fine listening experience. The music is the most active element in this mix, but I did notice some subtle surround use and a couple scenes do cause some life to stream into the speakers. The dialogue is what puts dinner on the table for this movie and this mix provides crisp vocals with no problems I could detect. This release also includes 2.0 surround tracks in English and French as well as English, French, and Spanish subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This release contains an audio commentary with director Nick Gomez in which he offers some behind the scenes information, but usually comments on the actors and their performances. This isn’t one of the better tracks I’ve heard, but fans of the film will want to check it out. You can also watch four deleted scenes and these have optional commentary by Gomez as well. The disc also includes talent files and theatrical trailers for this and other Columbia/Tristar releases.