Starring: Charles Busch, Jason Priestly, Frances Conroy,
Philip Baker Hall , Natasha Lyonne and Stark Sands
Directed by: Mark Rucker
Mommie Die is one of the funniest films of the year! Mind
you it sure isn't the usual toilet-trodden road-trip snorfing
anti-cerebral crapitini we are force fed through over paid
post pubescent paper dolls with a four pack of acting lessons
tucked in their designer belt. No siree Bob.
is the brainchild of Drama Desk Award recipient, drag performer
and theater veteran Charles Busch. Here Chuck's managed to spin
a web of genres from noir to those silly sixties breasty bimbo
coupling farces back to the eye-brow perpetually erect melodrama
with a loving pinch of something thoroughly modern. The whole
kooky cast stitches together so superbly, Edith Head would be
speaking of Edith Head, the costume designers Michael Bottari
and Ronald Case have truly out done themselves with Charles Busch's
(aka Angela Arden) glorious Hollywood glam gam shaping ensemble
Angela Arden - Sussman (Charles Busch) ex-glamour queen
and aging songbird of Tinsletown has taken on a young buff lover
named Tony Parker (Jason Priestly) to drown her woes of age's
ravage and boost her sagging
her powerful, if out-of-style filmatically, producer husband Sol
Sussman (Philip Baker Hall) finds out and decides to torture the
great dame by forcing her to stay married - a clipping of the
songbird's wings and a most definate kind of mental final
straw for the diva extraordinaire's delicate ego. The sequined
bobbles are gonna fly now...
the Sussmans' offspring are right out of the Betty Ford clinic's
roaster of spoiled rich kids gone meshuga. The girl, Edith (Natasha
Lyonne), has a wee bit of the "daddy's girl"
complex within a ditzy Sandra Dee styled shell. She also has the
spine of a scorpion when it comes to her mommie dearest. The son,
Lance (Stark Sands) is sexually confused - or rather just confused.
To squaresy fairsy, Lance hates his father almost as much as Sis
or does he
family maid, Bootsie (Frances Conroy) is loyal to Sol and will
do anything to keep the madam's hands off his neck
everyone's got a deep dark secret worthy of page one of the tabloids.
DMD is a heapin' helping of Hollywood send-up, but not
cartoony. Writer and star Charles Busch along with director Mark
Rucker obviously love the older, more openly hedonistic blueprint
of Hollywood's nobility, and they lovingly painted these colorful
characters upon their extravagant canvas. Both hail from theater
- and it shows. Intimate scenes played straight during absurdity
deliver laughs so hard you'll whack your head on the chair in
front of you if your not careful.
Busch owns the film - hands down - as he struts and vogues ala
Betty Davis and tantrums ala Joan Crawford. His impeccable performance
shoots straight into your heart. This is no run-of-the-gin mill
drag chick campy up the legends. Busch adores these somewhat troubled
women of fame from the fuzzy lens pre-laser smooth plastic surgery
era and the film shines for it. It's an award winning performance
his fellow cohorts are also oozing talent and each nails the subtle
underlying punch the film carries.
Priestly is far from the Izod© wearing
Beemer sporting goody goody whose skin he frolicked in for years.
He wears smarmy like it's a new fragrance by Calvin Klein - bravo!
And when exactly did this guy get so friggitini slurpable? I'd
like to check his hood for fluid levels I tell you
Baker Hall is always special. Here he delivers the "producer"
character with just enough soul to make him likeable - even when
he's the unwilling recipient of a twelve inch phallic shaped suppository
cooing, err, cuddling, err, hanging with his "daughter."
Natasha Lyonne and Frances Conroy manage to keep straight faces
as they deliver Busch's dialog and subtly work our psyche. Wonderful
this "new comer" Stark Sands (not to be confused with
Rider Strong or any or the other semi-porn named youngin' about
town) is one to watch for. He's got the looks, the spark and the
talent all bottled up in one helluva candy coated shell of manyum!
Mommie Die, un beau film légèrement bleu d'humeur
babe. What are you waiting for doll? Get out and roll into this
recommendation: Scotch straight up.
Sundance Film Series, Film - watch out for this
group's selections - they know film.
See a slide show on the costumes
in an article on Bottari and Case here->