Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Nick Gomez|
|Produced by||Al Corley|
|Written by||Peter Steinfeld|
Jamie Lee Curtis
|Music by||Michael Tavera|
|Cinematography||Bruce Douglas Johnson|
|Edited by||Richard Pearson|
|Distributed by||Destination Films|
|Running time||95 minutes|
Drowning Mona is a 2000 comedy-mystery film starring Danny DeVito as Wyatt Rash, a local police chief from Verplanck, New York, who investigates the mysterious death of Mona Dearly, a spiteful, loud-mouthed, cruel and highly unpopular woman, who drove her son's car off a cliff and drowned in a river.
The film's first scene shows Mona Dearly (Bette Midler) leaving her home and trying in vain to unlock her car. Her keys fit her son's car, so she takes that and drives off. In a bend, the brakes fail completely and she drives off a cliff into the Hudson River. This is observed by Clarence, who is fishing there. Chief Wyatt Rash (Danny DeVito) later observes that there are no skid marks on the road.
Neither her husband Phil (William Fichtner) nor Jeff (her son) seem upset when they hear about Mona's death and they are not the only ones. Ellie (Wyatt's daughter) even wants to celebrate, because she feels the Dearlys have always treated Bobby (her fiance and Jeff's business partner) very badly. JB Landscaping is not doing well because of Jeff's laziness and lack of right hand and because Bobby is not very competent either. Bobby denies that he still wants to fire Jeff and that he has a problem with the Dearlys.
Phil and Rona (Jamie Lee Curtis), who have an affair, meet at the Charm Motel. Phil expresses his happiness about Mona's death but denies involvement.
Bobby meets Murph, his older brother, and denies that he has had a hand in Mona's death. Bobby owes his brother a lot of money, but it is suggested that he is often taken advantage of by him.
Wyatt's investigation takes him to Jeff, who claims that Bobby threatened and attacked Mona. Lucinda, the local mechanic specializing in the Yugo (that seemingly everyone in town drives) informs Wyatt that Mona's car (i.e. Jeff's) had been tampered with in multiple ways.
Phil tells Wyatt that he was a battered husband, Mona having hit him after having accused him of having an affair. He also claims that Jeff and Mona had had an argument on the evening before the accident.
Bobby tells Wyatt that he hated Mona and that they had had an argument over Jeff's pay. Mona would not let him dissolve the partnership.
Phil and Jeff leave Mona's wake very early. Meanwhile, Wyatt breaks into the Dearly's and finds out that Mona's and Jeff's car keys have been switched.
Phil expresses his gratitude to Bobby for killing Mona. Bobby then confesses to Ellie that he rigged Jeff's car, because Jeff was destroying their business. Ellie then announces that she is pregnant. This conversation is overheard by Clarence.
Phil now tells Wyatt that he spotted Bobby near the Dearly residence on the night prior to the accident, claiming that he did not say this earlier because Wyatt and Bobby are soon to be family.
Jeff, who it turns out is also involved with Rona, finds out about Phil's affair with her. Phil later spots them making love.
Bobby tells Wyatt that Mona threatened him, not the other way around, and that he was in the Hideaway the evening before the accident, which as Valerie tells Wyatt is not true. Murph later tries to cover Bobby on this. Valerie also gives him a sharp gardening tool with the letters "JB" on it.
Phil is discovered dead in a pond at the Charm Motel. Murph tells this to Ellie, who fears that Bobby, who left their house that night, has killed again. When Rona finds out, she tries to leave town. A flashback shows Jeff not helping Phil when he fell into the water after Phil threatened Jeff that he was going to expose him, Rona, and Bobby.
The police learn that Jeff is threatening suicide because of Rona's leaving. Jeff also states that Phil was not his real father and that Mona chopped off his right hand when they fought over a bottle of beer, but that in spite of all this he did not kill either of them. Wyatt manages to take the gun away from Jeff.
Wyatt then tells Bobby in private that Clarence confessed killing Phil, because he could not stand the idea of Bobby going to jail, especially with the baby on the way. A flashback shows how Phil, having spotted Bobby rig the car, tampers with it some more, which is observed by Clarence, and then, inside the house, switches the keys. (Clarence cannot have seen Phil do the latter and, presumably, thinks that Bobby too intended to kill Mona, not Jeff. Presumably, the heavy rain prevented Clarence from seeing which car was rigged, or he simply does not know which car is whose.) It must be emphasized that because of the use of flashbacks this may not be what really happened.
Wyatt promises Bobby to keep quiet about Bobby's involvement as long as he takes good care of Ellie and the baby. In the final scene, Bobby and Ellie get married and Clarence gets taken away.
- Danny DeVito as Chief Wyatt Rash
- Neve Campbell as Ellen Rash
- Bette Midler as Mona Dearly
- Jamie Lee Curtis as Rona Mace
- Casey Affleck as Bobby Calzone
- Kathleen Wilhoite as Lucinda
- William Fichtner as Phil Dearly
- Marcus Thomas as Jeff Dearly
- Peter Dobson as Lt. Feege Gruber
- Tracey Walter as Clarence
- Will Ferrell as Cubby the Funeral Director
- Paul Ben-Victor as Deputy Tony Carlucci
- Paul Schulze as Deputy Jimmy D.
- Mark Pellegrino as Murph Calzone
- Melissa McCarthy as Shirley
- Brian Doyle-Murray as Tow Truck Driver
Use of flashbacks
Many of the film's scenes are flashbacks. Most or all of them depict what somebody tells somebody else and are therefore not necessarily representative of what really happened. In fact, some of them directly contradict each other.
Awards and nominations
- ALMA Awards: Outstanding Director of a Feature Film (Nick Gomez)
The film is notable for the number of Yugo automobiles that are driven by the main characters, as well as the number of personalized license plates, including 'JEPH' for Jeff, 'UGOMONA' for Mona, 'OHRONE' for Rona, 'PHIL123' for Phil, 'POLICE' for Wyatt, 'ELLIEE' for Ellie, 'MURPH' for Murph.
- "Drowning Mona at Box Office Mojo". Retrieved 2010-09-29.
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