Monday, November 24, 2003

REVIEW: Die, Mommie, Die!

Seen 17 November 2003, at Loews Copley Place #2 (Sundance Film Series)

* * * (out of four)

I arrived a bit late for Die, Mommie, Die!, so I missed out on the credits. A shame, because it probably had a credit sequence as clever as its utterly hilarious trailer. But, the rest of the movie was worth it.

What surprises me, in a way, is not that it worked - I'd enjoyed screenwriter/star Charles Busch's Psycho Beach Party - but that both of these movies had started out as stage plays. They're lampooning such specific genres of film that doing them on stage seems in some way unnatural. However it worked on stage, though, it's a ton of fun as a film - Busch casting himself as Angela Arden, the film's leading lady, is almost necessary to kick the absurdity level up another notch or two over an authentic piece of melodrama.

I liked the supporting cast, as well. Jason Priestly is only too willing to chew as much scenery as he can fit in his mouth, and he's given tons of opportunity, with the chance to seduce nearly every character in the film, male or female. Both Natasha Lyonne and Stark Sands are very funny as Arden's equally dysfunctional kids. Philip Baker Hall doesn't fare quite so well, having little to do but be grouchy for most of his screen time. Complaining about hemmeroids just isn't in and of itself funny.

Parody's a tricky thing to do well, especially for a genre that manages to make itself look absurd without much help. Die, Mommie, Die! manages it, though, even while mostly playing fair as a murder mystery.

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