Monster-in-Law [2005]

As an esteemed television journalist put out to pasture by the networks and faced with the engagement of her son, Jane Fonda is fierce, funny, and ready to rumble as the title character in Monster-in-Law in a way that the rest of the film itself never really is. Jennifer Lopez, the film's other above-the-title star, is set to marry handsome, wealthy Michael Vartan but has one helluva time dealing with his insanely possessive mother. The result is pretty much what you'd expect--lots of snarls and slapstick and an easy, kisses-all-around conclusion, though it is surprising (and maybe a little disheartening) to watch Fonda throw herself into such disposable comedy with such gusto. Director Robert Luketic, who slept while Reese Witherspoon tottered off with his Legally Blonde, once again relies solely on the assembled talent: He leaves a high-wattage Lopez playing things a little too cute, a reedy Vartan looking visibly disinterested, and canny comedian Wanda Sykes making what she can--which, luckily, is a lot--of her role as Fonda's wisecracking personal assistant (the type of black sidekick role that's an indication of how creakily formulaic the film is). See it for Fonda, if you feel like it, then wish her a better engagement in the future. --Steve Wiecking

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