We all hear the story of the atrocious in-laws; you know the ones who hate the suitor of their offspring and the ones who will stop at nothing to drive the other away? Well, what about if the person at the root of it all caught on to the plan and started to fight back with in a way all their own? Wouldn't that be a great movie? Well, some movies can take one joke and run it through an entire feature and still maintain a slightly humorous tone, like Meet the Parent and its follow-up, but the single joke running through Monster-in-Law runs dry after the first time it was executed, and it never really pulled out of hole that it dug itself.
Jane Fonda, who made this her first role in fifteen years, stars as the title character, Viola Fields, a TV personality who was on top of the world only to be replaced by someone who fits the demographic better. The replacement sends Viola into a tailspin and she has one hell of a breakdown on the air, tackling a Britney Spears look-alike, thereby forcing herself into an institution for a few months. It's during these months that Ms. Fields' son, Dr. Kevin Fields meets and subsequently falls in love with the adorable free sprit Charlie, played convincingly cute by Jennifer Lopez. Charlie isn't high society, she works temporary jobs, walks dogs and lives in a cluttered apartment that I'm sure would be a fire hazard in many cities. Thankfully, love knows no class lines, and soon Kevin and her move in together and the inevitable needs to happen: Charlie must meet Viola.
After some initial trepidation, Viola and Charlie bond and share a lot of jokes and have some fun during their first meeting. Taking this as a sign, Kevin decides that this is the time and place to ask Charlie to marry him, much to the chagrin of his mother. After reverting back to her unstable self Viola takes it upon herself to try and stop this marriage by hook or by crook. At one point she moves in with Charlie and with the aid of her assistant played by the one saving grace of this film, Wanda Sykes, Viola tries almost anything to get her son back from Charlie, even up to the day of the wedding.
Comedic revenge movies can be good, or they can be bad. One good one that I thought of while watching this movie was the hilarious Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau feature, Grumpy Old Men which took the back and forth banter of practical jokes and revenge and made it fun; Monster-in-Law did not manage to do this. I rarely have the urge to walk away from a movie, but after watching 60 minutes of Fonda acting over the top and borderline psychopathic, and seeing Lopez trying to counter it I gave serious consideration to turning this predicable romantic comedy off. The single joke thread got tired very quickly, and aside from a couple moments I hardly even cracked a smile. Perhaps people who like their comedy overacted and their actors pushing themselves through the movie will enjoy this piece, but I found it to be dull, and even at only 100 minutes, about thirty too long.
Two video options for Monster-in-Law are included on disc one of this two disc set. Both the theatrical presentation in its 2.35:1 aspect ratio and a full-screen option are included. New Line does a great job with its transfer for this Platinum release, with colors and sharpness throughout the movie very sharp and vibrant. I didn't notice either any specs on the print or any compression issues, which was a concern seeing as two video options shared the same side of this disc.
The industry standard Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Stereo sound tracks are included. The surrounds were not overused though this romantic comedy, but mainly used to enhance a few of the more physical scenes. Dialog was crisp and clear, and the music mix was quite well balanced through the feature.
New Line always seems to do a great job with their platinum releases, and Monster-in-Law is no exception. Packed to the hilt with
Twelve minutes of deleted scenes are included
A "music video" for the Britney Spears farce "Make up Bag" by Ruby (a slightly less curvaceous Spears Look-alike) is included, but don't get your hopes up as instead of something worth watching we get to watch Wanda Sykes mix it up with two topless main dancers.
A five minute gag reel is included with scenes from both the move and from some of the behind the scenes documentaries.
Six behind the scenes documentaries are included, and are as follows:
An eight minute piece welcoming Jane Fonda back to the big screen, including some bloopers, interviews with the cast and crew and of course a montage of some of the more physical aspects of the movie are included.
Keeping it Real with Jennifer is yet another fluff piece pumping the likeability of Jennifer Lopez, again featuring interviews with cast and crew. Thankfully it runs about 3 minutes shorter than the Fonda segment.
An almost twenty minute feature pumping the ego of director, Robert Luketic. We get more interviews, and handheld camera footage from behind the scenes of shooting Monster-in-Law.
And rounding out the main cast, a similar short segment on Alias star Michael Vartan.
A four minute featurette called Trendsetters talking about the set, and location. Luketic and other cast and crew talk about the shooting environment and how they used what they had to create a feeling that we know how the characters lived in the space they occupied.
And finally a short segment on the fashion of Monster-in-Law which features costume designer interviews and footage of the costumes being created and fitted.
Two teaser trailers and the theatrical trailer for Monster-in-Law is also included, as is a preview for the upcoming feature "The New World" staring Colin Farrell, Christopher Plummer and Christian Bale. A preview for The Whole Shebang, the hilarious Wedding Crasher trailer, and another for Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
It's amazing to me that Fonda would venture back into the public eye with a movie such as Monster-in-Law, with its single threaded joke structure and predicable romantic comedy storyline, you'd think she'd like to come back and do a movie that was much stronger than the feature I just watched. For those DVD collectors, you'll find two discs filled with promotional fluff, and some deleted scenes that all seemed to be cut for good reason.
Overacted, poorly scripted and lacking originality I have a hard time even suggesting to people to rent this movie. Skip it.