Someone needs to tell the film industry that talent multiplies together, not adds. When you have Jane Fonda, who’s ability to be funny is only about ¼ as effective as someone who actually is funny, mix that with Jennifer Lopez who’s also about ¼, and Wanda Sykes who is maybe ½, you don’t get a single funny character lightening the screen with wit and humor, you get three morons whose disjointed, bland idea of a joke is only validated by each other’s ability to laugh at it and has a 1 in 32 chance that anyone with a brain will find it worth a chuckle. When the Three Stooges were together in a room, they never got any smarter. They got a whole lot dumber and perhaps Monster-In-Law could have saved itself if it just paid attention.
The good thing about this movie is I honestly don’t believe I can classify it as a romantic comedy, which already means it’s going to get a better score. This movie isn’t about a relationship and there’s no real romance in it. Like Bride Wars, it’s not really about love more than it is about bitches fighting amongst themselves because of the wedding. It’s not fun for women because they all look stupid in it and it’s not fun for guys because they don’t make out when it’s all over. I can’t say I understand the need for this genre.
But alas, here’s a film about Charlotte (Jennifer Lopez) who is marrying Who The Fuck Cares Because He Conveniently Leaves on a Business Trip (Michael Vartan), leaving her with her future Mother-In-Law Viola (Jane Fonda), a washed up old hag who honestly believes that Charlotte doesn’t belong in the world her son is bringing her into and tries various tactics to scare her away, some clever, many more not so clever (oh, what’s that? Charlotte has an allergy? That hasn’t been done before!). Under the watchful eyes of housekeeper Ruby (Wanda Sykes, who…I hate to say…made this film), the two psychos fight back and forth in cheesy, stupid, slapstick humor battles until they both decide that it isn’t worth it and despite not really gaining any respect for each other (we’re just kind of told it happens), they kiss and make up (without the kissing. Don’t understand the genre.)
It’s not that the story is tired, because it isn’t, though it’s mainly used as a side plot for other movies where two people are getting married, but whereas other movies throw it in because it provides just enough added humor to keep a comedy rolling, Monster-In-Law just proves that when appeasing the parents is the only focus, it’s very easy to run out of creative ideas. Yes, this film did have some really funny moments. Not uproaringly funny ones, but clever and bittersweet, though it wasn’t enough to make me fully enjoy this movie. Perhaps it’s a regular issue with female-oriented comedies lately. Like P.S. I Love You, it takes a plot that really could be branched out in wonderful, provocative, spellbinding ways, but instead just resorts to stupid slapstick.
There was very little in this film that challenged the relationship as a whole, which would have made this a much better movie and really defined Viola as a true “Monster-in-Law,” but this film took a step back from that. There were never any threats to the marriage and never a decent confrontation on why Viola was being such a bitch, these were conveniently omitted as well; god forbid an honest conversation entered this movie. It was more just doing what you could to survive the day. Nothing truly devious to see here.
I’m going to wind up giving this a 6 dustbusters out of 10 because, I have to say, when it was successful, it was really successful and the movie really wrapped itself up sweetly, even had a couple of honest tear-jerker moments in there. I don’t know if this was worth the watch. Too much of it was just noise and clutter and not enough to make me really pick it over other wedding movies like Father of the Bride or even Made of Honor (that movie was incredible for the chemistry alone). Oh well, 6 out of 10. Decent enough, I guess.