"Learning to Get Along – the Hard Way"
What You Need To Know:
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.
(B, C, Ho, FR, O, Pa, LLL, V, S, AA, M) Light moral worldview with redemptive forgiveness and a strong conception of the family, as well as stereotyped homosexual best friend character, and false religious elements include an occult Tarot card reading and a pagan Hindu ceremony for calm, although the ceremony has the feeling of a joke; 12 obscenities, many of them light, and 19 profanities, most of them along the lines of “Oh my God!”; comedic violence includes interviewer tackling her subject, woman imagines pushing woman’s head into a cake, woman imagines hitting woman in the head with a pan, woman considers poisoning someone, and angry woman throws objects around her dressing room; cohabitation with fornication implied, and some discussion of sex; people in beachwear; woman relies on alcohol to get through difficult times; and, revenge theme rebuked at movie’s conclusion, and mother-in-law schemes to anger daughter-in-law.
MONSTER-IN-LAW is a breezy comedy with the breeze provided by Jennifer Lopez and all of the comedy by Jane Fonda and Wanda Sykes. Lopez plays Charlie, a humble dog walker who becomes absorbed into the world of the rich and famous when she falls in love with Kevin, a doctor. Kevin’s mother, played expertly by Jane Fonda, feels threatened by Charlie and does everything in her power to separate her son from his fiancée.
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.