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Cass' review of


Monster-in-Law (2005)
Rated PG-13: running time: 102 minutes
Genre: Comedy/Romance
Distributor: New Line Cinema
Directed by: Robert Luketic
Written by: Anya Kochoff
Movie Theater: The Grand Theatre
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Jane Fonda, Michael Vartan, Wanda Sykes, Adam Scott, Annie Parisse, Monet Mazur, Will Arnett, Elaine Stritch
Official site
IMDB site
Review Copyright Cassandra Henry, 2005

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"Life is too short to live the same day twice." -- Charlotte

CASS' CLIP (WARNING: **spoilers below**)

When good and evil face-off, will good prevail?

Charlotte "Charlie" Cantilini (Jennifer Lopez) is a quintessential good girl. Charlie is really a closet artist/designer, but she currently earns a living as a happy-go-lucky dog-walking receptionist. Occasionally, she helps out her best friend Morgan (Annie Parisse) cater events. And, every single girl needs an obligatory gay neighbor like Remy (Adam Scott) to survive in Los Angeles. Charlie may not be looking for love, but if it happens to jog right in front of her on Venice Beach, or bump into her at a coffee shop, or at an event she is helping Morgan cater, then he may be her knight in shining armor. It's a good thing for Charlie because Mr. Right, Dr. Kevin Fields (Michael Vartan), also notices her and wants to get to know her better.

Viola Fields (Jane Fonda) (which I'm sure is short for violent) is a confident, aging talk-show host who believes the network execs are giving her a raise. Instead, just moments before she goes on air, she learns that a younger woman is replacing her because the suits want to boast ratings with a younger demographic. Viola's on-air antics send her to the loony farm to convalesce as well as learn some anger management techniques.

As luck would have it, Charlie and Kevin fall madly in love. But unbeknownst to Charlie, Kevin is on the fast track to marriage, and he wants the two favorite women in his life to meet. Both Charlie and Viola are superficially nice to each other for the sake of Kevin, but when Kevin proposes to Charlie, that's when the fur flies. Viola is none too happy that her only son, a doctor no less, is marrying a professional temp. Now, Viola will do whatever it takes to keep Kevin and Charlie from saying, "I do." Viola's loyal long-time assistant, Ruby (Wanda Sykes), keeps it real when it comes to telling Viola the truth about herself. Ruby is happy for Kevin, but since she's on Viola's payroll, Ruby is persuaded to help Viola execute her zany scheme. What Viola doesn't know is that Charlie is up to the challenge and that she has a few tricks up her sleeve too, in the form of Viola's own real-life monster-in-law (Elaine Stritch).

Before Kevin and Charlie make it to the altar, will he ever see his mother as the Monster Dearest she really is? Can Charlie beat Viola at her own game? And, if there is a temporary truce, will Charlie and Viola ever live happily ever after?

DA 411

Director, Robert Luketic, and screenwriter, Anya Kochoff, combine their efforts in yet another no brainer romantic comedy. In fact, the title, Monster-in-Law, pretty much says it all. The sparks that fly are not between the supposed lovebirds but with the would-be in-laws.

If you've seen Jennifer Lopez in The Wedding Planner or Maid in Manhattan, then you'll easily recognize that this role is not unfamiliar territory for her in this genre. Surprisingly, Jennifer created a likeable character, but I think it had a lot to do with whom she shared the of majority of her screen time opposite. And, Jennifer may have had top billing but let's not be confused about who the real movie star is -- Mizz Jane Fonda! Sure, Mizz Fonda has been missing in action from the big screen for the past 15 years, but her performance in Monster-in-Law demonstrates why she's a seven-time Oscar nominee. Her facial expressions along with her real knack for comedic timing cracked me up every time she was onscreen. It's obvious that Michael Vartan's character was simply the man in between two feuding women out for his affection. He simply did what he was paid to do -- try to be charming while saying his lines.

Typically, I hate characters like the one Wanda Sykes played -- a smart-ass black woman, called an assistant out of political correctness, but she was really another white woman's maid. But this is Wanda Sykes who knows her character inside and out because she's not acting. No one delivers sassy and wry one-liners like Wanda. The chemistry between Jane and Wanda was magical. Audience members will surely enjoy her characterization because her ad-lib dialogue is exactly what movie-goers would say under those circumstances. Elaine Stritch is the real monster-in-law and her cameo appearance is a riot. When Elaine and Jane go toe-to-toe with barbs you'll understand who Jane's character learned her mother-in-law techniques from. Adam Scott, the gay neighbor, and Annie Parisse, the best friend, are your standard Three's Company-ish sitcom characters.


If you're looking for a diversion from kung-fu or sci-fi flicks, Monster-in-Law is predictably silly but in a good and entertaining way.

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Copyright Cassandra Henry, 2005

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