After years of incredibly bad dates, Charlie (Jennifer Lopez) thinks she's met the perfect man...until she meets his possessive and merciless mother! Jane Fonda returns to Hollywood to play the worst mother-in-law ever who... more » will do everything she can to break up the happy couple!« less
Jennifer D. (jennicat) from ST AUGUSTINE, FL Reviewed on 3/29/2014...
This was a cute movie. I can relate.
Not The Train Wreck I Was Expecting, But...
thornhillatthemovies.com | Venice, CA United States | 05/17/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Monster-In-Law" is not the train wreck I was expecting, but it could've been so much more.
Charlie (Jennifer Lopez) works a series of temp jobs and enjoys everything she does, making ends meet. It makes life interesting. One day, she meets Kevin (Michael Vartan), a doctor, and they quickly fall in love. Kevin's Mom is Viola Fields (Jane Fonda), a successful Barbara Walters-like network news anchor, with problems of her own. Kevin brings Charlie to his mother's estate to meet her. Kevin decides to propose, in front of his mother. Viola clearly disapproves and sets about breaking them up. As she and Ruby (Wanda Sykes), her assistant, set a series of events in motion, Charlie gradually begins to realize what she is working against and fights back.
"Monster-In-Law", directed by Robert Luketic ("Legally Blond", "Win a Date With Tad Hamilton!"), frequently veers into sitcom territory.
The acting is very broad and cartoonish. At one point, Charlie, having pulled one off on Viola, shakes her head and sniggers, much like a Hanna Barbera cartoon character. Lopez's character is all over the place. At one moment, she appears to be normal and caring and sympathetic, the other, she is acting like Peg Bundy from "Married with Children". Fonda, returning to feature films after 15 years, is clearly having fun chewing the scenery. And it is fun to watch her. But she is so over the top and Lopez is over the top only part of the time, that it seems like a bad sitcom. Wanda Sykes is very funny as Ruby. Her natural allegiance is with Viola, someone she has worked with for years, maybe decades, but she isn't beyond dressing down her boss, pointing out the problems with her theories. When she realizes that this isn't going to stop her boss, and Charlie is a stronger adversary, she begins to root a little for her. Michael Vartan (from TVs "Alias") is a very handsome guy, but he is virtually non-existent in this film. He is such a flat, boring character that he gets completely lost in the wake of Hurricane Fonda and Tropical Storm Lopez.
The film would've worked better if the two lead actresses were more complimentary. As Fonda chews the scenery, Lopez moves from trying to portray a real woman to matching the overblown antics of her co-star. It might have been more successful if one of the two were cartoonish while the other was more natural. Providing more balance to the proceedings. Or, if they were equally outlandish. As it is, the film seems unbalanced. Strange.
This sort of story naturally lends itself to a darker tone, but the filmmakers have steered clear of that. If the story moves slightly towards "dark territory", it quickly veers back into the safe and sunny territory everyone feels was necessary to earn the film mass acceptance. At one point, Viola is so fed up with Charlie that she is about to smash up some almonds and slip them into Charlie's food. Earlier, Charlie remarked that she was allergic to nuts. Ruby talks her out of it. Why does she have to talk Viola out of it? The story sets up that Viola is more than a little egomaniacal, more than a little crazy, more than a little excessive. It seems like her character would go through with something like this, no matter what. They pull Viola back because they want her to remain sympathetic, for the sappy, sweet ending.
I did laugh. More than I expected to. Much of this laughter was created by Wanda Sykes. Ruby is the type of all-knowing character every lead used to have. Think Thelma Ritter in the 50s. A couple of her one-liners made me laugh out loud.
Because the filmmakers pull the punches, they rob the film of any dark humor and relegate it to the annals of forgettable comedies on the shelf of every video store throughout the country.
From all of the horrible reviews I have read, I was expecting "Monster-In-Law" to be completely dreadful. I was surprised that I found myself laughing at the absurd situations. Certainly worth checking out on video, but a bargain matinee is pushing it. "
Fun and funny, but profoundly predictable
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 05/13/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"MONSTER IN LAW represents Jane Fonda's return to the movies for the first time in fifteen years. The role is a genuine departure for her, for she plays an aging TV host and mother who has lost her job and is losing her son to Jennifer Lopez in marriage. She was fifty-two at the time of her previous film, so this is the first time on screen where playing an older woman has arisen. So, how did Jane do? First, anyone would have to grant that she is aging with grace. Yes, she looks older, but she has also obviously worked hard at taking care of herself, and I only pray that when I reach her age I am even remotely in as good a shape as she is now. Unfortunately, I am not sure that the role was completely appropriate for her. She basically has to play an extraordinarily shallow, selfish, self-absorbed jerk, and though she throws herself into this wholeheartedly, she isn't completely believable. Nonetheless, there are still a host of very funny scenes, and while the part might not be perfect for her, it certainly wasn't an utter mistake.
The real problem with the movie is that it is utterly predictable. Before it starts, you know pretty much everything that is going to happen. You know that it will start off at Point A and end up at Point Z, the only question being some of the variations along the way. There is nothing necessarily bad about being predictable, as long as one makes up for it by being creative within that framework. And indeed many of the jokes here are quite funny, and there are a number of nice moments. However, almost all of the key transitions are rather tired and true. By the end of the film, the viewer is left with the distinct impression of having seen it all before.
Jennifer Lopez has one of the most negative public images of any actor or actress in America, but however she might be as a person face to face, I have always like her film persona. She projects as a very sweet, very nice individual on screen, and one of the regrets I have had about her career is that she hasn't made enough films like THE WEDDING PLANNER and MAID IN MANHATTAN. This isn't as good a movie as either of those films, but as in those I enjoyed the moments she appears on screen. I very much regretted, on the other hand, the relatively small amount of time that Michael Vartan had in the film. I was worried that I was going to have trouble accepting him in the film, being a big fan of ALIAS. I wasn't sure that I could accept him as anyone except Vaughan, but it turned out to be remarkably easy to do so. It would have been hard in a film structured around Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda squaring off, but I wish he had had a larger role, even though he was third billed as it was. The other major presence in the film-and a highly welcome one-was stand up comedienne Wanda Sykes as Ruby, Jane Fonda's assistant. She if a fundamentally funny person, and is delightful in delivering her lines whether they are strictly funny or not.
All in all, this is a fine comedy as long as one keeps one's expectations somewhat muted. After I saw it at a preview, I replied to friends who asked about it, "I'd wait for it on DVD." I think that is about right. It is a pleasant film, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it to anyone wanting to see a film in a theater. For that, there are probably better options.
On a side note for those interested in celebrity gossip (and come on, even Franklin Delano Roosevelt delighted in it) should take note the irony of having Jennifer Lopez and Michael Vartan teamed together as a romantic couple in a film. Jennifer Lopez was, of course, famously linked with Ben Affleck, who went on after the breaking off of their engagement to become involved with Jennifer Garner, who was involved with Michael Vartan shortly before dating Affleck."
Funny do not go by critics one of the best comadies in years
Jake | 09/02/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Great from start to finish. The story fallows Charlie (Jennifer Lopez)one day, she meets Kevin (Michael Vartan), a doctor, and they quickly fall in love. Kevin's Mom is Viola Fields (Jane Fonda), a successful Barbara Walters-like network news anchor, with problems of her own. Kevin brings Charlie to his mother's estate to meet her. Kevin decides to propose, in front of his mother. Viola clearly disapproves and sets about breaking them up. As she and Ruby (Wanda Sykes), her assistant, set a series of events in motion, Charlie gradually begins to realize what she is working against and fights back. The acting is great all the characors do great jobs. Theres Jennifer Lopez who is innocent and then fights back and it's hallarious when she fights back. Then theres Jane Fonda who is perfect as the mother in law from hell. Wonda Sykes dose a great supporting role. the movie has reat one liners that will elave you laughing. The movie is predictable but it's still lots of fun froms tart to finish."
Slapstick Return for Jane Fonda
Music Fan-atic | Hogwarts | 09/08/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This movie isn't as bad as a lot of reviewers make it out to be. In a sea of unrelenting bad box office movies, this film at least keeps it's head above water. For Jennifer Lopez fans, there is enough sweetness factor to keep them happy. The plot is familiar and formulamatic, yet light and often funny. Charlie (Lopez) has lead a life of many part time jobs and is getting along just fine till she has a chance meeting with Dr. Kevin Fields (played a bit woodenly by Alias' Michael Vartan)and falls in love. Things couldn't be better until Kevin arranges for Charlie to meet his mother, Viola Fields (Fonda)a talk show host put out to pasture by her network and recently released after a break down from a hospital who has nothing left in life but making her son's prespective dates miserable. Kevin chooses to ask Charlie to marry him in front tof his mother and the hijinks begin. Viola has other plans and is hell bent to break them up. But as misery loves company, Charlie decides to fight back. Throw in Wanda Sykes as Viola's personal assistant who wants no part in this struggle and this makes for some very comical moments. Sykes is great in her small role but really chews on the scenery and makes the most of a role written far to small for this large comedic talent. The movie is largely entertaining but you may want to rent it before actually making the purchase. Worth a viewing at least."
MONSTER IN LAW
Samantha Smith | South Jordan, Utah | 07/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have read many reviews and cant believe this is the same movie I saw!!!! I LOVED the movie and cant wait to get it on DVD. I took all my girls ages 16 to 25 and we all laughed so hard.I took mu husband the week later and he enjoyed it and laughed. JANE FONDA was so funny and I was so glad to see her back in a movie. It's a movie people-some people think the world had to move to make it great. And what made it even funnier is as we were watching it was we all realized she's MY mother in law, to the tee. Rent it- buy it. IT IS FUNNY!"