Monster-In-Law, Jane Fonda’s first film appearance in 15 years, is an uninspired comedy.
Thursday, May 12, 2005
The 67-year-old, two-time Oscar winning actress Jane Fonda
must have been doing a favor for a friend when she willingly
took the part of Viola Fields opposite J-Lo in
Monster-in-Law. Monster-in-Law tries to create
that classic comedic, love-hate relationship that Jack Lemmon
and Walter Mattheu perfected in The Odd Couple and
Grumpy Old Men. But Lemmon and Mattheu had something
that Lopez and Barbarella lack: chemistry.
MONSTER-IN-LAW ( * )
Directed by Robert Luketic.
Starring Jennifer Lopez, Jane Fonda and Michael Vartan.
(PG-13, 112 mins.) At the Century Cinemas Del Monte Center, Northridge Cinemas, Century Park Seven.
In Monster-In-Law, Jennifer Lopez plays Charlie Cantilini, a thirty-something-year-old single woman working several odd jobs while secretly aspiring to be an artist. Charlie daydreams at work of finding that guy that “notices the little things” about her. When she meets Kevin (Michael Vartan) and asks him “What color are my eyes?” then quickly turns her head, he answers: “They’re brown with a hint of honey near the iris but they turn green in the sun.” Since he notices the “little things” like eye color, he must be the perfect man.
While Kevin may be the perfect man, the same cannot be said about the woman who birthed him. His mother Viola, a has-been television personality with a martini problem and four ex-husbands, can’t get enough of her 35-year-old son. When Kevin and Charlie decide to marry, Viola makes it her personal “project” to prevent the wedding from ever happening. In Viola’s eyes, her son, a successful surgeon with rugged good looks, deserves someone, well, like her. She feels it is her duty to “save him from Charlie.”
It is apparent that the moviemakers want the film’s viewers to cheer for Charlie to win this war by keeping Lopez softly lit and succulent in all her scenes while shooting Fonda in harsh fluorescent-like lighting that exposes every wrinkle and crevice on her face. Meanwhile, the film portrays Viola’s everyday life as a series of bitter events, while Charlie spends her time at the beach with the ocean breeze blowing through her hair.
The meat of the film’s focus is on the back-and-forth shenanigans between Charlie and Viola. The film aims for a Three Stooges physical brand of comedy but, unfortunately, there is nothing to laugh at.
As the conflict between the two progresses, the film continues to unravel, leaving behind many loose ends. In addition to never learning what happened to Charlie’s passion of being an artist, Kevin conveniently disappears from the film—he goes away on business—so all the focus is on the women who fight over him. Surgeon Kevin is supposedly an intelligent man, but he never catches on to his mother and future wife’s spiteful bout. I guess he just “notices the little things.”
The only somewhat enjoyable element of this movie besides the end is Charlie’s quintessential homosexual, overly nosey neighbor, Remy, played by Adam Scott. But as with the other characters in Monster-In-Law, he eventually becomes a two-dimensional living stereotype.