Monster-In-Law (2005)

ROBERT LUKETIC

Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BB.5

Germany/USA, 2005.  New Line Cinema, BenderSpink, Spring Creek Productions, Kumar Mobiliengesellschaft mbH & Co. Projekt Nr. 1 KG.  Screenplay by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , .  Music by , .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by , .  

Romance blooms between a dog-walker/office temp () and a successful doctor (), with things moving at a steady pace until a giant bump in the road is encountered: his overprotective, nearly psychotic mother (Jane Fonda in a return to the big screen after a fifteen year absence). Fonda has recently been fired from her position as a top television journalist, and following her subsequent release from a mental institution, she decides that obsessing over her son and preventing his upcoming marriage to this unworthy girl is all the project she needs to make herself feel better. She imposes herself on the happy couple’s life, exhausting Lopez beyond her everlasting patience until the young woman gets wise to her game and decides to turn the tables. The personalities of the women sparkle in Anya Kochoff’s predictable screenplay, while Vartan’s character is a hammy, strung-together collection of silly Hallmark cliches; he can barely keep a straight face at all the guff he has to deliver for two hours. The final act, which is far too sentimental for its own good, lets the air out of what was a potentially biting experience, but what really kills it is J-Lo’s insistence on continually trying to convince us that she’s just an average girl. What happened to the sassy, sexy and dangerous woman who made Soderbergh’s Out Of Sight come to life? Fonda is also a welcome presence, but the woman who once ruled the cinemas in movies like Klute and The China Syndrome should not be reduced to such ridiculous buffoonery as the old-lady comic relief in a romantic movie; you get glimpses at the possibility that this could have been her Being Julia, but director Robert Luketic never lets it get anywhere near there. Instead, he and Kochoff concentrate on tired stereotypes, such as the brilliant  playing a modern-day mammy who sits around and makes comments about her crazy ole’ white lady boss, and the immensely likeable as the friendly, harmless gay roommate. Mostly it’s a passably funny movie made for stupid people, especially those with two-dimensional ideas about the complexity of relationships and who think that a man who can take fifteen minutes to describe a girl’s eye colour while standing beside her on a sandy beach is their idea of perfect romance.

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