review for Die Mommie Die on AllMovie

Die Mommie Die (2003)
by Brian J. Dillard review

The line between melodrama and camp has always been especially fine. On the one side, there's Far from Heaven, Todd Haynes' reverent Douglas Sirk homage; on the other, there's the oeuvre of drag auteur Charles Busch. Those expecting Die Mommie Die to follow in the over-the-top tradition of Psycho Beach Party, the sole previous cinematic adaptation of Busch's stage work, may be in for a surprise. For all its florid production values, operatic emotions, and satiric jabs at Sirk and Sunset Boulevard, Die Mommie Die is only slightly more exaggerated than its inspirations. Sure, it's funny, full of deliciously bawdy verbal and visual gags. And sure, everyone from Natasha Lyonne to Jason Priestley and Six Feet Under's Frances Conroy pops in to send up the archetypes of '50s "women's pictures." But for all its satire, Die Mommie Die takes its source material no less seriously than Haynes did in his justly celebrated film. Channeling Joan Crawford, Jane Wyman, Susan Hayward, and other magnificent dames, Busch turns in a black comedy with as much to say about gender roles and social conventions as any ostensibly serious period piece. Busch may prefer to wink and laugh rather than wring his hands, but that doesn't make his film any less enjoyable -- or his artistry any less impressive.