Review of “Drool”

 
 

Cheb hates the fact that Imogene is black (the n-word is thrown
around more than once), and violently threatens his wife just for
inviting her over. When he finds them in bed together (after himself
being sexually abused at work) he loses it even further and tries to
kill Anora. In the scuffle, she gets the gun and kills him – in front
of the kids.

What follows is the most surreal, bizarrely hilarious travel/buddy
plot this side of Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas. Imogene takes the
family (and they are a family now), into her purple car, loads the
corpse into the trunk, and heads off to Savannah, Georgia, where she
insists that everything can be dealt with.

Tabby is (rather understandably) angry and reticent at first,
reeling from her father’s death and from her best friend running off
with her boyfriend. She and Little Pete eventually come to respect and
even like Imogene, despite their initial shock at learning of their
mother’s true sexuality.

This is about as dark as comedies get, so if you’re idea of “edgy” involves a few off-color stand-up jokes, you’d best steer clear. The violence (particularly the sexual violence), the racial slurs, the domestic abuse and the crazy stereotyping all run thick through the surreal, ugly-pretty landscape of the film.

Strangely, the longer the film runs, the campier and more candy-colored the tone. As things go along, the queer content ramps up as well, just in time for the color palette to turn fabulous. There’s gay sex, lesbian sex, a dead body trussed up like Dame Edna, strange little dolls that Pete learns to style for himself, and truly, enough makeup and neon-colored clothing to strangle an entire musical theater production company.

At one point, the family buy a venerable rainbow of slushies so they can better preserve the corpse – they rain the sugary substance down on him while Imogene remarks that it’s “almost pretty”. In another scene, the family holds a eulogy for a squirrel they hit on the road. The macabre is mixed in so seamlessly with the full-on camp that one can hardly help but laugh in self-defense.

Once again, the comparison steers close to Little Miss Sunshine territory – there’s a sort of inherent sweetness about the family coming together that reads rather positively, despite all the gruesome details. In many ways, Imogene is the savior of the bunch – she swoops in, helps Anora escape death (at the hands of Cheb), gives this woman the love and affection she never had, acts as a second mother to the children, and basically saves the day. She’s immensely likeable, even though she’s generally hiding under six layers of neon-hued makeup.

Anora is a wounded woman who finds her way (thanks to her new girlfriend). She spends a great deal of time in a haze, oblivious to the world around her, but at other times, she’s sharp as a tack and compassionate and caring about her kids. The murder never feels “wrong” exactly, since she was so clearly acting in self-defense, and had suffered from so much abuse that it’s hard not to sympathize with her. Laura Harring is a real trip in the role, which is a far cry from her sexy, mysterious turn in the phenomenal Mulholland Drive.

Tabby is also likeable as our proto-heroine. While she’s whiny and angry at times, she’s got a badass streak and a killer sense of humor that makes the whole production go down easy.

The experience of watching Drool isn’t unlike taking in a particularly unhinged melodrama whilst under the influence of laughing gas. There’s certainly an appealing dream logic to the proceedings, and quite a number of laugh-out-loud moments. It’s absolutely not for everyone – but folks with an off-kilter sense of humor will likely enjoy Drool for the nutty, oddly sweet confection that it is.

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