MONSTER-IN-LAW (Robert Luketic, 2005)
Jennifer Lopez finds the man of her dreams and the in-law of her nightmares in MONSTER-IN-LAW. Lopez stars as the happy-go-lucky Charlie, who leads a colorful life populated with odd jobs and trendy friends. She meets and falls for Kevin, a doctor played by Michael Vartan. Their romance is like a fantasy, but every fairy tale needs a villain. Enter Jane Fonda as Kevin’s mother Viola, a Barbara Walters-like newswoman with Larry King’s marital track record. Viola doesn’t voice her objections to Kevin and Charlie’s engagement. Instead she schemes to break up the happy couple by becoming the most overbearing mother-in-law possible.
MONSTER-IN-LAW director Robert Luketic’s career to date consists of films about sweet, naïve women trying to find their life paths. Reese Witherspoon and Kate Bosworth were perfect matches for their LEGALLY BLONDE and WIN A DATE WITH TAD HAMILTON! characters. Lopez is tougher to buy in the ingénue role. The Jenny from the block mystique she tries to regain as a pigtailed, starry-eyed girl in MONSTER-IN-LAW is convincing only as a public relations strategy to correct the fallout from the Bennifer years. Luketic’s films differ from their counterparts because he favors the heart and innocence on display in old movies. The nastier comedy that MONSTER-IN-LAW demands is a bad fit for him. Playing nice and going for the proverbial throat are in comic opposition. Luketic can’t solve the dilemma with his softened approach. MONSTER-IN-LAW is this year’s second big studio variation on MEET THE PARENTS, neither of which has equaled the inspiration’s laugh value.
(Review first aired on the May 24, 2005 NOW PLAYING)