Monster-In-Law Movie Review

Since it's propped up by most of the same jokes and plotdevices as any other comedy about obnoxious in-laws ("Meetthe Parents," "TheIn-Laws," "MickeyBlue Eyes"), there's really only one questionto answer about "Monster-in-Law": Is it worth 10 bucks to watchJennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda retread the same sitcom territory recentlytrampled twice by Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro?

The short answer is "No."

But while hardly original and certainly predictable, "Monster-in-Law"does have some good chuckles -- although few of them come from Lopez, whogives a shrug-worthy performance as an off-the-shelf romantic-comedy heroine,tailored with all the sweetly quirky foibles that Hollywood thinks willmake gorgeous actresses seem like everyday gals who can't find a man.

In this case Lopez plays a struggling artist and officetemp with a dozen part-time jobs (dog walker, receptionist, caterer), whononetheless has her own roomy, sunny, well-decorated beachfront apartmentin Venice, California.

Being dragged along the shore one day by a dozen rich people'sdogs, she catches the eye of an utterly vanilla Mr. Perfect Nice Guy, ahandsome doctor played by Michael Vartan from "Alias." Then,when they get engaged (this movie isn't about falling in love), she meetshis nightmare of an apron-strings mother -- a washed-up TV chat-show hostnow in a mid-life crisis, played with rock-candy gusto by Jane Fonda.

Out to sabotage the wedding plans and save her preciousboy from marrying beneath him, Fonda returns to acting, after 15 years,in sharply funny form. Even as the obvious and over-the-top script concoctsasinine excuses for Fonda to move in with the couple and wreak havoc, theactress brings delightful nuance to her duplicity.

She does get upstaged, however, by scene-stealers WandaSykes (from TV's "Wanda at Large") as Fonda's sharp-tongued personalassistant who tries to derail her plots), and by comedy legend Elaine Stritch(most recently seen in Woody Allen's "SmallTime Crooks") as Fonda's own wickedly bitingmother-in-law.

Eventually Lopez catches on, of course, and begins to fightfire with fire, until the inevitably over-simplistic mutual epiphany thatresolves everything just in time for the couple to say "I do."(Being a sitcom male, Vartan never catches on at all -- to any of this.)

Directed with a generic twinkle by Robert Luketic ("LegallyBlonde"), "Monster-In-Law" doesearn laughs on a fairly steady basis -- but not enough of them to makeup for the fact that it's not a very good movie overall.


Comments

Monster-In-Law Rating

" Grim "

Rating: PG-13, WIDE: Friday, May 13, 2005

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