Yawn after yawn after yawn.

Released in 2005, certified UK-12A. Reviewed on 20 May 2005 by Craig Eastman
Monster-in-Law image

Okay. So whaddya wanna know? Monster-in-Law is a movie that needn't have been made. Not just because I'd personally rather it hadn't, you understand, but rather due to the fact the title and the posters (in the UK at least) pretty much tell the whole story. Jane Fonda glaring down her nose at Jennifer Lopez not only makes a change from J-Lo staring down her nose at pretty much everybody on the planet, it also allows the canny punter to imagine in the comfort of their own warm headspace the entire movie playing out from yawn-inducing start to the Coma Delivery System of a finish. And that movie is exactly how the real thing pans out. Actually that's incorrect. Chances are your version will be better scripted and at least an iota more original than this tawdry pap-fest.

An admittedly radiant Lopez plays Charlie Cantilini who, as well as sounding like a microwave-ready pasta dish I bought in Sainsburys this week is also a part-time waitress, dog walker and general nice girl. She can't believe her luck when she secures a date with Kevin Fields (Rugged Rent-A-Bloke top 5 regular Michael Vartan); an equally nice, equally single, exponentially more rich doctor who to her relief, and against all likelihood given the mindset of the modern woman, is absolutely 100% not gay. The pair get on famously and soon move in together, as is the norm for these types of set-up, and Kevin decides it'd be wise for Charlie to meet his mother Viola (Jane Fonda) who happens to be a burnt-out prime time chat show host.

Needless to say Viola immediately assumes Charlie is after Kevin for his money and takes an instantaneous dislike to her little lad's Laino lover. In a startlingly original plot twist Viola sets out to dissuade Charlie from going through with Kevin's "shock" marriage proposal by enlisting the help of her upper-class friends, an old flame of her son's and all the middle-age vitriol she can muster. What a bombshell. Kevin aside, Charlie's only on-side assistance comes from Ruby (Wanda Sykes) as Viola's long-suffering PA and the stock character who says really obvious things in a stereotypically African-American meter that 12A audiences for some reason like to laugh out loud at. Well aware of her master's biblical levels of displeasure, Ruby generally offers Charlie impartial gems of wisdom that serve to pad out the runtime while offering amoebic audience members the occasional laugh, and her entirely predictable presence, while largely inoffensive, sums up the tired, bland approach of everyone involved at every possible creative level.

Monster-in-Law image

Anya Kochoff's screenplay is treading a path so worn by it's predecessors it makes you wonder why Hollywood even bothers. Does anyone have any artistic or creative integrity any more? Clearly not, otherwise Kochoff wouldn't have bothered putting a single uninspired word on paper and the studio would have laughed the script out the door the minute they saw the title. I think I'm probably correct in assuming Monster-in-Law is aiming pretty squarely at the female demographic, and as insignificant a piece of fluff as it may be it has, to it's credit, forced me to question my perception of the fair gender's mindset. I now have to ask questions like "Do women really find this original? If not are they gluttons for punishment? If so do they have the memory span of a goldfish?". I for one would at this juncture relish the memory span of a goldfish, for it would mean I had already forgotten why I was writing this sentence, scrap this review and live my life in the blissful shade of denial at having ever witnessed this explosion of mediocrity.

Lopez's involvement is understandable; her diva antics guarantee no director qualified enough to have any say in the matter will go within a mile of her, meaning she's pretty much restricted to generic vanilla flicks like this where the unfortunate behind the megaphone has no control over the casting process. Quite why Fonda saw fit to renege on her 15 year Hollywood hiatus is the single thing most beyond my comprehension, especially when her efforts are rewarded (if indeed they deserve to be to any measurable degree) by the FX boys digitally lifting her wrinkles. What a slap in the spindly face that must be. Actually, maybe that's where the money for a decent script went. It certainly wasn't on any other area of production...

To summarise, this is a spectacularly uninspired pile of generic monkey-toss that by virtue of it's sheer inoffensiveness becomes offensive. When, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when, oh when will we see then end of this soul-sapping mediocrity? Not soon enough, I fear. I've had enough. I've made myself angry again.

I award this choad "more than it's worth" out of 5

Robert Luketic
Cast list:
Jennifer Lopez (Charlotte "Charlie" Cantolini)
Jane Fonda (Viola Fields)
Michael Vartan (Kevin Fields)
Wanda Sykes (Ruby)