Learning to Get Along – the Hard Way
Release Date: May 13, 2005
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Jane Fonda,
Wanda Sykes, Michael Vartan,
and Will Arnett
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Rating: PG-13 for sex references and
Runtime: 97 minutes
Distributor: New Line Cinema
Director: Robert Luketic
Executive Producer: Michael Flynn
Producer: Chris Bender, Richard Brener,
Julio Caro, J.C. Spink, and
Writer: Anya Kochoff
Address Comments To:Mark Ordesky, President
Fine Line Features
Robert Shaye and Michael Lynne
New Line Cinema
116 North Robertson Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Phone: (310) 854-5811
Fax: (310) 854-1453
Web Page: www.flf.com
Kevin is very close to his mother Viola, who is a longtime television personality whose talk show has just been cancelled. Viola now has a lot of extra time to lavish on her son, who nervously introduces Viola to Charlie. The two women hit it off, so Kevin decides to propose to Charlie. Viola goes into hysterics and instantly begins her war against this potential daughter-in-law. Their antics climb in intensity until the wedding is in danger just minutes before it’s supposed to begin.
Unlike most romantic comedies, MONSTER-IN-LAW doesn’t worry about charming its audience or being too adorable. It is a battle of wits between Jane Fonda’s wily, hard fighting, lonely television reporter character and Jennifer Lopez’s sweeter, artsy, emotionally giving character. Both of them pull some underhanded tricks on each other.
Jane Fonda and Wanda Sykes, who plays Viola’s personal assistant, are the comedic center of the movie. Fonda gives the movie weight that it otherwise would not have, covering big flaws in a C-grade script. Sykes is her usual irreverent self, which clears away some of the stuffiness. Her funny lines are almost like pleasant intermissions between predictable scenes with Lopez.
The foul language count is only high because characters frequently utter light profanities such as “God!” or “Oh my God!” Also, the obscenities are not shocking. There is some sexual discussion in the beginning of the movie as Charlie and her young friends are introduced. One of those friends is a stock gay character who rambles about fashion. He talks about having a date with a man at the end of the movie, but that is the extent of the homosexual discussion.
Charlie and her fiancé move in together, so, coupled with the gay character, the movie is sexually permissive. No dialogue or images are explicit, however, which widens the possible audience. The movie does contain an occult Tarot card reading and a pagan Hindu ceremony for calm, but the Hindu ceremony has the feeling of a joke.
In the end, Viola comes to terms with her real reasons for fighting Charlie, and the two of them come to a better understanding of each other. Each puts love and family above selfish desires. It’s a pleasant enough, morally positive ending to a movie that is just funny enough to keep viewers interested. MONSTER-IN-LAW is nothing special, but it’s a nicely made movie that will be especially enjoyed by mothers- and daughters-in-law.
Jane Fonda and Wanda Sykes, who plays Viola’s personal assistant, are this movie’s comedic center. They are responsible for some very funny moments. Otherwise, the foul language count is high because characters frequently utter “Oh my God!” There is some sexual discussion and a stereotypical homosexual character who rambles about fashion. Charlie and her fiancé move in together, but there are no explicit sexual elements. In the end, Viola comes to terms with her real reasons for fighting Charlie, and both come to a better understanding of each other. Each puts love and family above selfish desires. It’s a pleasant enough ending to a middling movie.