Mona Dearly (Bette Midler) is a cranky, unlikable slob whose own son and husband fear and detest her. When her brakes fail and her Yugo goes over a cliff into the Hudson River, there is little grieving in the quiet hamlet of Verplanck, New York.
All in all, Mona’s death could be described as a fortuitous accident for everyone whose lives she touched. Chief Rash (Danny DeVito) soon becomes suspicious and discovers that her brake lines were cut and Mona’s death was no accident.
Much like Columbo, the diminutive detective questions Mona’s relatives and acquaintances. It turns out that there are several suspects, including his own son-in-law to be.
Meant as black comedy, “Drowning Mona” left me aghast. I found it nearly devoid of humor. And what laughs there were depended on crudity, spousal abuse, and gruesome sight gags, including dismemberment. At one point, townsfolk speculate how Mona’s son lost his hand. After several grisly acted-out scenarios, we learn that Mona cut it off after warning her boy not to touch her beer. Macabre humor is extremely difficult to pull off. Hal Ashby was successful with his 1972 film “Harold and Maude.” A few others have shared equal success with this genre, but the times we are living in are cynical enough without finding our amusement in films that exploit the suffering of others. It is not our aim to preach at you, but may we suggest reading Philippians 4:8 before attending any movie. Although Ecclesiastes 3:4 allows for entertainment, the Word is also careful to instruct us about what we should think on.