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Donal Lardner Ward
Donal Lardner Ward,
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Mona Dearly, a spiteful, loud-mouthed, unpopular woman dies when the car she is driving plunges off a cliff and into a river near the small upstate New York town where she lives. Wyatt Rash, the local police chief, investigates and suspects foul play in Mona's death. The whole town are suspects, including Wyatt's daughter Ellen, who is about to marry landscape artist Bobby Calzone whose business was suffering from his lazy business partner, Jeff, Mona's slow-witted son, as well as waitress Rona Mace, who was having an affair with Mona's husband. Written by
Maybe Danny DeVito and Bette Midler should collaborate more often. The two times they did it was comedy gold. While this movie is not as flat out hilarious as "Ruthless People," it should still be enjoyed by the same people who love that movie. It starts with a prologue stating how Verplanck, New York was the location where they decided to launch the Yugo line of cars in America. As a result, everyone in town, including the police, drives a Yugo car, and they all have catchy license plates like UGOMONA, ELLEEE, and OH RONE.
As the title suggests, this black little whodunit concerns who opted to rid the small town of Verplanck of its nastiest inhabitant, the matriarchal hag Mona Dearly (Midler, who chews up every inch of the screen in her "Rashomon"-esque flashback scenes). Police Chief Wyatt Rash (Danny DeVito, playing against type as the straight man), is determined to find out, even if nobody else cares to help. It's come at a bad time, because he's trying to help his daughter Ellie (Neve Campbell) plan her big wedding to mild-mannered land-scaper Bobby Calzone (Casey Affleck), who has just ended up short-handed after his beer-guzzling partner Jeff Dearly (Marcus Thomas, the epitome of slackerdom) takes a leave of absence. Bobby also seems unnaturally concerned with the the death of a woman who meant only bad things for him.
The characters, while bordering on cartoons, are played tongue-in-cheek, and you know the actors had fun doing it. There's the chain-smoking waitress Rhona Mace (Jamie Lee Curtis), who's having an affair with the deceased's husband Phil (William Fichtner, who walks away with the movie as a complete scumbag), and Bobby's overbearing brother Murph (Mark Pellegrino). The cops are just as zany, with Peter Coyote as the do-gooder lieutenant, and Paul Ben-Victor and Paul Schulze (Ryan Chapelle from "24") as a couple of bumbling idiots who seem to be good for one thing, looking out for Numbers One. There's Katherine Wilhoite as Lucinda, the lesbian folk-singer mechanic, and the great Tracey Walter is on board as the local fisherman who nobody really knows much about. Add in a foul-mouthed, alcoholic priest, and a funeral director who's also an amateur pornographer (Will Ferrell before he became huge), and it's a feast for those with a twisted sense of humor.
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