Die Mommie Die!

Review Date:
Director: Mark Rucker
Writer: Charles Busch
Producers: Dante DiLoreto, Anthony Edwards, Bill Kenwright
Charles Busch
Philip Baker Hall
Jason Priestley
A parody of 60s culture, specifically focusing on one self-involved aging songstress who lives with a husband who hates her, a daughter who despises her and a possibly gay son who likes her. The whole clan is surrounded by more goofs including the gigolo about town with the huge dick and the maid who seems to know everyone’s secrets. A soap operatic spoof of all things 60s and show business ensues.
A fun, over-the-top, soap opera-ish parody of the whole 60s period, specifically focusing on one aging past-her-prime songstress who still likes to parade around like she’s a “somebody”, over-dramatize everything and whose big Hollywood producer husband despises her (think Susan Hayward, Joan Crawford, Dynasty!) Films like this either work or don’t according to the screenplay’s ability to maintain a good sense of reality, despite the humor, “winks” all around and the actors, all of whom have to be “in on the joke” and can’t lose sight of the fact that this is basically one big spoof. For the most part, I think this film managed to do just that, with a script offering just enough jokes, faux drama and intelligence to maintain my interest throughout its 90 minutes, despite losing a bit of its pace when the character, played tremendously by the great Philip Baker Hall, disappeared. Thankfully for the audience, the lead character is the revelation here, and I think your overall appreciation of the film will likely depend on whether or not you “buy into” his/her shtick. I say “his/her” because the character is, in fact, an aging female singer in the film, but for some very funny reason, is delightfully played by male actor Charles Busch (on whose stageplay the film is based, and who also wrote the screenplay) Not surprisingly, he was also the man behind the 60s beach movie spoof PSYCHO BEACH PARTY. Major kudos to Busch for playing this lady as hilariously real, yet over-the-top as possible, and cracking my ass up with many a twitch of the eye, deep stare or wise crack. Sure, he’s not the first man to don a woman’s wig to make funny on the big screen (or in real life…Vegas!), but I like the fact that his character was messed up in the first place, and that he played her with such “truth”.

The rest of the cast is also very good, especially Jason Priestley who plays the man everybody wants to nail because…well, he’s apparently got an anaconda between his legs (speaking of Vegas). The brother and sister duo were also well portrayed, with creepy incestuous undertones all around. Yipes! Having said all that, the film is obviously not for everyone and is definitely more in the groove of those who appreciate the “midnight shows” or laughing along with a ton of their friends while weeding up (ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW fans should line up) It also offers a fresh alternative to the same ol’ crap that we’ve all been getting shoved down our respective throats over the past couple of months, and includes some great dialogue, like when the mother is surprised to find out that her son might actually be gay, and slowly, but reluctantly sits next to him and very politely asks: “Son, are you…well, are you…are you…a cocksucker?” Nice! That’s the kind of film it is, so don’t say I didn’t warn you. It also features a number of memorable scenes including one very wicked acid trip, a three-way that you have to see to believe, a hilarious funeral reception (you read that right) and a certain something that happens with a letter-opener that is to die for. Despite its short runtime, I still think it could have been cut by another 5-10 minutes though, since there really is only so much that you can take of the same “parody” over and over, but the ending was pretty creative, so points to them for, at least, tying it up in a very sweet, soap opera-ish way. Not sure if this film will ever reach the masses, but if it does, I hope that Mr. Busch gets the deserved recognition that he should for his awesome lead performance. Philip Baker Hall is also in dire need of props after all these years, as his hilarious showing as the “library cop” on TV’s “Seinfeld” confirmed to me, years ago.

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian

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