[Screen It]


(2000) (Danny DeVito, Bette Midler) (PG-13)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Moderate Mild Extreme Minor Mild
Moderate None None Minor Heavy
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Moderate Moderate Mild Mild Heavy

Black Comedy: After the most hated woman in a small town dies in a suspicious car accident, the local sheriff sets out to discover who, among the many viable suspects, may be the guilty party.
In the small town of Verplanck, N.Y., the most hated woman around, Mona Dearly (BETTE MIDLER), has just perished after her car flew through a guardrail and ended up sinking in a river. Although no one particularly liked Mona - including her seemingly timid husband, Phil (WILLIAM FICHTNER), and one-handed loser of a son, Jeff (MARCUS THOMAS), local police chief Wyatt Rash (DANNY DEVITO) figures he should investigate the accident.

When Lucinda (KATHLEEN WILHOITE), the local mechanic, tells Rash that the accident was no accident, the chief begins questioning everyone about their whereabouts around the time of the incident as well as their feelings toward the deceased. Beyond Phil and Jeff -- who don't appear too upset about Mona's demise -- Rash talks to Bobby Calzone (CASEY AFFLECK) a not particularly bright fellow who runs a small landscaping business with Jeff and never particularly liked him or his mother.

While Bobby obviously had reason to kill Mona, Rash's view of him is tainted since he's also engaged to the chief's daughter, Ellen (NEVE CAMPBELL), who didn't like the Dearly family for messing with her fiancÚ's livelihood.

Then there's Rona Mace (JAMIE LEE CURTIS), a white trash waitress at the local diner who was carrying on affair with both Phil and Jeff. Added to the mix is Clarence (TRACEY WALTER), an old man who reportedly saw the accident and then more, Murph (MARK PELLEGRINO), Bobby's bartender brother, and Cubby (WILL FARRELL), the local funeral home director. As Rash tries to solve the case with the help of his subordinates, including Feege (PETER DOBSON) and Tony Carlucci (PAUL BEN-VICTOR), he must choose from the many suspects, all of whom had motive to get rid of the woman.

Various members of the cast may draw some teens, as might the black comedy genre, but it's not likely that this film will be much of a draw for many kids.
For some thematic elements, language and brief sexuality.
  • DANNY DEVITO plays the local police chief who tries to solve the crime. Along the way, he briefly cusses and ends up promising to get the guilty party off the hook.
  • BETTE MIDLER plays the most hated woman in Verplanck, a mean-spirited, nasty, and vindictive woman who hates everyone and cusses some.
  • NEVE CAMPBELL plays Rash's daughter, a young woman who's glad Mona is gone and finds herself pregnant by her fiancÚ. She briefly uses strong profanity.
  • JAMIE LEE CURTIS plays a white trash waitress at the local diner who's having an affair with both Phil and Jeff and smokes more than five times.
  • CASEY AFFLECK plays a somewhat dimwitted young man who's trying to run his landscaping business and hated the Dearly family for trying to ruin it. We also learn that he got Ellen pregnant (they are engaged to be married).
  • WILLIAM FICHTNER plays the deceased's seemingly meek husband who uses some profanity, smokes a bit and is having an affair with Rona.
  • MARCUS THOMAS plays Mona's one-handed, dimwitted son who drinks, cusses, is mean to Bobby and is also having an affair with Rona.
  • PETER DOBSON plays a local cop who isn't above making fun of people when not doing and saying everything according to police protocol.
  • WILL FARRELL plays the local funeral home director who seems to be involved in some sort of soft-core photography on the side.


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.

    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).

    Here's a quick look at the content found in this PG-13 rated, black comedy. Profanity is rated as heavy due to at least 1 use of the "f' word, while a plentiful amount of other curse words and colorful phrases are also present. Being in the black comedy genre, the film contains "dark" material that some may find offensive, including, but not limited to, a group of people who don't care that a woman has died (with many of them being suspects in her murder).

    Beyond that murder and another later one, other bad attitudes are present, including a woman having an affair with both a married man and his son, and a moderate amount of sexually related material/behavior and some dialogue is present. Other violence is also present, including people being hit and/or attacked and various imagined versions of how a character lost his hand.

    Various people drink and smoke throughout the film, while some behavior is present that may be imitated by some impressionable kids. Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home after reading that summary, we suggest that you take a closer look at our more detailed content listing.

    For those concerned with bright flashes of light on the screen, a few moments of that occur during a thunderstorm.

  • Jeff drinks beer.
  • Bobby and Ellen drink.
  • In a flashback, the Dearlys, along with Bobby and Ellen, have beer.
  • In a flashback, Jeff vomits on Feege from being drunk.
  • People drink in a bar, including a priest who wants another drink and gets belligerent when the bartender won't give him one.
  • Jeff drinks a beer.
  • Phil talks about Jeff being "lit up like a Christmas tree" (drunk).
  • In an imagined scene, Jeff drinks a beer that then falls into a shredder. In other scenes depicting how he may have lost his hand, they all involve him reaching for a beer.
  • Phil has a beer.
  • Bobby orders a beer and his brother, the bartender, drinks from it before giving it to him.
  • Phil has a beer.
  • Bobby, Ellen and Rash have some champagne.
  • We see that Phil is drunk.
  • We see some beer at a wedding.
  • In a flashback, Jeff vomits on Feege (and we then see it on his shirt).
  • In an imagined scene, Jeff drinks a beer that then falls into a shredder. He then reaches down for it and screams as we see red material coming out of the other end of the shredder.
  • A body is pulled from the river, but beyond being wet and dead, it isn't bloody or gory.
  • The person who killed Mona obviously had extreme cases of both types of attitude and no one in the town grieves or is even a little upset that she's dead.
  • The person responsible for another person's death also rates as having an extreme bad attitude.
  • We learn through flashbacks that Mona also had an extreme case of both types of attitudes and was a mean-spirited, vindictive and nasty woman.
  • Some viewers may take offense at a scene where Bobby drops some tree sheers and we then hear the stereotypical cat shrieking sound below him (suggesting that they hit a cat, but we never see it). There's also a running gag about someone running over a dog with a lawnmower (but the most we see is someone chasing after the dog with the mower).
  • Jeff tries hitting on a 13-year-old girl.
  • Ellen says that Mona deserved her fate and that it was too bad that Jeff wasn't with her in the car when it sank in the river.
  • Some viewers may take offense at the portrayal of a priest getting belligerent in a bar when the bartender cuts him off (and for using phrases such as "G-damn").
  • Phil and Jeff are mean to Bobby, especially when he comes over to express his condolences to them.
  • Some cops make jokes about Jeff only having one hand ("You've got to hand it to him," "What's your handle?" "Hands up," etc.).
  • Rash illegally enters a house without a warrant.
  • We learn that Rona has been having an affair with Phil and Jeff.
  • Rash assures the guilty party that they won't face charges.
  • Although they're all played for laughs in a black comedy fashion, it's possible that some scenes listed under "Violence" may be tense or unsettling to some viewers.
  • Handguns: Worn by the local cops.
  • Knives: Used by Jeff to stab between his own fingers and later used in a knife throwing contest at a carnival/fair.
  • Handgun: Held by a character to his head as if ready to commit suicide.
  • Meat cleaver: Used by someone to cut off Jeff's hand.
  • Phrases: "Cut the sh*t," "Holy sh*t," 'You're full of sh*t," "Blow job," "Kissing his ass," "Kiss ass," "Jerk," "Freakin'," "Shut up," "You dumb bitch," "Freak," "Scumbag," "Shove it right up your ass," "Nuts" (crazy), "Screw" (nonsexual), "You bet your ass," "Sucks" and "Jeez."
  • In a flashback, Jeff repeatedly jabs a large knife between the spread fingers of his other hand that's resting on a table/counter.
  • Jeff loudly belches after drinking some beer.
  • We learn that someone cut Mona's brake lines and jabbed holes in her brake fluid reservoirs.
  • Some cops make jokes about Jeff only having one hand ("You've got to hand it to him," "What's your handle?" "Hands up," etc.).
  • A character holds a gun to his head as if ready to commit suicide.
  • None.
  • None.
  • A song has some lyrics about drinking whiskey and gin.
  • At least 1 "f" word, 14 "s" words, 1 slang term involving male genitals ("d*ck"), 1 slang term for sex ("banging"), 23 asses (2 used with "hole"), 14 hells, 5 damns, 4 uses of "G-damn," 3 each of "Jesus" and "Oh Jesus," 2 each of "For Christ's sakes," "Jesus Christ," "God" and "Oh my God," and 1 use each of "Oh God" and "Swear to God" as exclamations.
  • Mona informs Bobby and Jeff that their business shouldn't start with "BJ" since people will think that means "blow job."
  • We learn that Rona and Phil were having an affair and that his nickname for her is "sweet nipple."
  • It's implied that a funeral home director was fooling around with a woman in a backroom. Later, we see him taking soft-core photos of a woman dressed in some sort of lingerie (that shows cleavage) under her dress that's partially pulled down.
  • Rona and Phil go to the back of the diner to talk and he briefly caresses her clothed breast (in turn, she smacks him).
  • Although we don't see any activity between them, Ellen tells Bobby that she's pregnant.
  • We see Rona and Phil in a motel room playing an amorous version of a board game (she has the board and spinner between her legs - and she's in a negligee of sorts). Phil spins the spinner with his tongue and tells her that he wants to solve her puzzle. Rona gets upset, however, and puts her clothes back on. As they continue to argue, we hear the funeral home director yell from another room for them to keep it down since he's paying by the hour (we also briefly see him dressed in some sort of S&M attire).
  • After Jeff discovers that Rona was also having an affair with Phil, he asks if her plans were to live with the two of them so that "you could bang both of us." Rona says that was sort of her plan.
  • We see Rona presumably having sex with Jeff (she's on his lap in a slip in a head and shoulders view of the two). We don't really see anything but kissing, but do hear sexual sounds.
  • Lucinda and Ellen kiss each other. When Rash walks in and catches them, Ellen asks if he's going to tell Bobby. Rash says that he won't since he did some experimenting of his own in the past.
  • A person comments that it "ain't the meat, but the motion" (referring to size and technique).
  • Rona smokes more than 5 times, Phil and Mona smoke a few times, while a few minor/background characters also smoke.
  • The Dearlys are obviously a dysfunctional family unit, with none of them getting along particularly well with the others. In addition, Phil has an affair.
  • Black comedy and the use of such material in trying to elicit laughs.
  • Affairs.
  • Without any brakes, Mona's car crashes through a guardrail and sinks in a river, drowning the woman (we don't see the actual drowning, just the car sinking).
  • Bobby drops some tree sheers and we then hear the stereotypical cat shrieking sound below him (suggesting that they hit a cat, but we never see it).
  • Mona slaps Feege.
  • A man punches a woman.
  • There's a running gag about someone running over a dog with a mower (but we don't see the actual act).
  • In a flashback, Bobby grabs Mona by the neck, pins her to a car and threatens her.
  • In a flashback, Mona jabs a heavy skillet at Phil and finally hits him on the head with it (we see this another time).
  • In another flashback, Mona breaks the headlights of Bobby's car with a golf club that she then throws at the car (while Jeff kicks it).
  • In an imagined scene, Jeff drinks a beer that then falls into a shredder. He then reaches down for it and screams as we see red material coming out of the other end of the shredder. In another version of how he lost his hand, it's suggested that a chainsaw accidentally cut it off (but we don't see the actual act). Another suggests something in the water bit it off while he reached for a beer. Later, we finally see that someone cut it off with a meat cleaver (the actual impact isn't seen).
  • Rona smacks Phil.
  • Ellen smacks Bobby.
  • In a flashback, Mona chokes Bobby.
  • Jeff throws Bobby to the ground.
  • Bobby smacks his brother to wake him up.
  • A character holds a gun to his head as if prepared to commit suicide. Rash then jumps him, they struggle, and we hear the sound of the gun being fired once, but no one is hurt.
  • We see a person drown another person who's drunk and has fallen into the river.

  • Reviewed February 24, 2000 / Posted March 3, 2000

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