Reviews by Title:  0-9 | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Reviews by Year:  2024 | 2023 | 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011
Reviews by Rating:  0 star | 0.5 star | 1 star | 1.5 star | 2 star | 2.5 star | 3 star | 3.5 star | 4 star | 4.5 star | 5 star
Die Mommie Die!
2003 - R - 90 Mins.
Director: Mark Rucker
Producer: Dante Di Loreto, Lonny Dubrofsky, Anthony Edwards, Robert Hall, Bill Kenwright, Frank Pavich, Neil Weinman
Written By: Charles Busch
Starring: Charles Busch, Jason Priestly, Philip Baker Hall, Natasha Lyonne, Stark Sands
Review by: Jake Cremins

The cast cools their feet after another long day at the Ridiculously Large Hat Boutique.
'Die Mommie Die' has some real promise as a satire of the kind of glossy soap opera movie MGM was making back in the fifties, but once it starts earning its R rating it all goes downhill. Too bad, because for a while it promises to be hilarious, taking melodramatic conventions and flaunting them shamelessly, right down to giving the star gauzy, Vaseline-on-the-lens closeups with a soft light aimed directly at the eyes.

Charles Busch stars in this film version of his play, as an aging songstress who thinks of nothing but her libido, and whose family hates her about as much as Joan Crawford's did. Thankfully, the casting of a man in the lead is none too distracting; Busch's makeup and hair make him only look about as mannish as Crawford in her later years, and his performance, which lovingly imitates all of the best (worst?) of movies like this, is really the important thing. The opening scenes got plenty of laughs from me, as Busch hissed his way through a seemingly impossible number of dramatic confrontations (all of which required him to turn around dramatically into, yes, a soft light aimed directly at his eyes).

But then the plot began to stall. Any number of things could have been done with this setup (Lord knows there's plenty of source material to plunder), but when Busch chooses one in which husband Philip Baker Hall's hemorrhoids are a crucial plot point, it doesn't bode well for the rest of the movie. (Hall is eventually murdered, at length and on screen, with a poisoned suppository, a scene I could have lived without.) That's only the beginning in a story that takes a nosedive into raunchiness, when it would have been much funnier to leave things to our imagination.

Take the hunky character played by Jason Priestley, who starts out as Busch's lover, then becomes her daughter's lover, and then her son's (he has his reasons). There is a way in which this could have been funny, if the scenes about his actions had been written with more wit and less explicit crudeness, but Busch can't find it. There is also a spectacularly unwise scene in which Busch is interrupted by his/her daughter in the process of servicing two beefy moving men simultaneously; again, a funny situation, and again, destroyed by a need to be as explicit as possible. We're shown a nearly pornographic shot of the action, when it would have been far funnier to see nothing at all, except maybe the daughter running out of the room followed by her sheet-clad mother. In a movie that sets itself up as a satire of glossy soap operas, and for a while seems as though it actually could have been made in 1957, this kind of material is too jarring to work.

It is not unusual for major studios to release the exact same film simultaneously in the hopes of riding a trend (remember when 'Dante's Peak' and 'Volcano' came out within weeks of each other?). In an occurrence not likely to be repeated, 'Die Mommie Die' has come out at the same time as 'Girls Will Be Girls,' another raunchy comedy about has-been stars played by drag queens, which also climaxes with a hallucinogenic drug trip. 'Girls' is ragged and uneven, but it's the one you should go see, because it announces its bad taste right up front and follows it all the way through without compromise. 'Mommie' plays a game of bait and switch, first lovingly imitating old melodramas and then injecting gags about suppositories, nymphomania and LSD when there's nowhere else for it to go.

It would be unfair not to mention that the movie's climactic drug trip is lifted directly from 'The Big Cube,' which was, yes, a melodrama starring Lana Turner, but that was a cheap Mexican production done after her star had already begun to fade. It also provided plenty of its own comedy, let me tell you, and satirizing it is more or less unnecessary. If 'Mommie' had stuck to its original idea and left the obsession with genetalia to 'Girls,' it would have been a lot better off.
Movie Guru Rating
Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable.
  2.5 out of 5 stars

Have a comment about this review? (0 comments now)

Search for reviews:

Copyright © 2003-2024   All rights reserved.