Monster-in-Law DVD: Review By Dodd

  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
Admittedly, when I first saw the theatrical trailer for Monster-In-Law, I saw signs of disaster. It seems that ever since the critical and economic success of Meet the Parents, that Hollywood has hopped on "*sshole parent" gravy train. Let's take a look at the trend. The creators of Meet the Parents felt the need to create a sequel and a new twist on Guess Who's Coming To Dinner had to be modernized with Ashton Kutcher (of all people!) Monster-In-Law is basically the female version of Meet the Parents. There is Jane Fonda as the hellish future in-law, there is Michael Vartan as the loyal son, and there is Jennifer "J-Lo" Lopez as the wide-eyed, sweet wife-to-be.

As I mentioned, I thought the trailer reeked of disaster. Perhaps such low expectations brought me to like the film more than I had expected. Though I put an emphasis on the words "more than I had expected". is a great opportunity for Lopez and Fonda to redeem themselves and soak up the spotlight, and the leading ladies actually do so in the beginning. It is once the film kicks into motion that things get a little too wacky.

Charlie (J-Lo) is an attractive, kind temp/dog-walker with a heart of gold. Despite her great looks and personality, she just can't seem to find the right man. All of that comes to a halt when she meets the dreamy Dr. Kevin (Michael Vartan). The two fall head over heals for one another and move onto the next step in their relationship: meeting his mother.

Though talk about bad timing. Kevin's mother, Viola (Jane Fonda), has just recovered from a nervous breakdown. After a big-boobed, young bimbo took over her life-long job as a prominent television journalist, she has really held a grudge against the generation of young pretty girls. Sadly, Charlie falls into that category.

Upon arrival all seems fine until Kevin pops the question to Charlie in front of his mother. From that point forward, Viola gradually becomes the monster that the title suggests.

Upon first watching Monster, I felt a sense of charm from the light comedy. Jane Fonda, who has resurfaced after an 18-year hiatus, brings subtle humor to her character. Her reactions upon meeting his son's new girlfriend made me laugh out loud because they seem so natural and real. The problem is that Fonda's character goes off the beaten path and becomes an insanely evil person. This is a shame since Fonda could have still played just as much of a monster in a calm demeanor.

Once Fonda goes mad, the whole film goes mad. One person goes to outlandish extremes to hurt the other person, and vice verse.

The film still benefits from Fonda's strong performance in the beginning as well as knee-slapping supporting turns from Wanda Sykes and longtime comedienne Elaine Stritch. Though once past the midpoint, the picture falls flat.
There is a whole second disc that houses the special features. At first I wondered how so much could supplement the movie Monster-In-Law. Now I realize that since a widescreen and fullscreen version is available on the film disc, perhaps the extras were pushed onto an extra means of space.

There are a series of four doc*mentaries that are quite dull and bearing lame titles. The first three are on Jennifer Lopez, Jane Fonda, and Michael Vartan, while the fourth is on director Robert Luketic. How lame are these docs? Well the one on Michael Vartan is titled, "Vartan the Man!" if that tells you anything. It stings just to read that title.

As well there are two additional featurettes. One is on selecting the shooting location for the film while the other is about fashion.

The gag reel is not laugh out loud, though it is funny how Arrested Development star Will Arnett pops up in them repeatedly. The hilarious actor, who appears in the film for only a few minutes, seems to be a contributor of gags. I think this world needs more Arnett! Ruby's Makeup Bag goes hand-in-hand with the gag reel as Wanda Sykes is shown goofing off on the set by breaking it down with a bunch of beefcake dancers.

For a film such as this, I didn't expect so many interesting deleted scenes. Most of these shed light on some fresh material such as J-Lo having a nightmare that Jane Fonda and Wanda Sykes are executing her with shotguns. Lovely!

There is a commentary track with a grab bag full of people including director Robert Luketic, Wanda Sykes, and other behind-the-scene contributors. Though Luketic does most of the talking and he can get a little old after a while. He does not introduce new information as much as he rambles on pointlessly about what he likes or doesn't like.
The film is available in widescreen (2.35:1) and fullscreen formats. I did not partake in the fullscreen, though the widescreen looks good to me. It has the clarity of any mainstream romantic comedy. I can't say that I picked up on any specific looks that director Luketic is going for. It seems like all romantic comedies look the same. You know what would make this movie look better? Zombies!
5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound. Examples of the romantic comedy genre typically do not exhibit moments that have us fumbling for the volume button on the surround system. Though, also like other romantic comedy, it sports a happy-go-lucky selection of Motown tunes that make you feel like love is in the air.
Standard DVD keep case. The case comes in a decorative thin slip sleeve. Both the case and sleeve show the original poster art of Fonda ripping a photo in half of Lopez and Vartan.
Monster-In-Law is not a very original idea. Though at first it does manage to show signs of hope, it falls through the cracks into a pit of ludicrousness. I couldn't seriously laugh when watching a future daughter-in-law drugging her fiancée's mother in an act of vengeance. While the film hit a little higher than my low expectations, it still does not win me over.

My Recommendation: Give this film a rental while you are on a date. In fact, it is perfectly date-friendly. While it is a chick flick, there are still moments that he would enjoy as well as her. Just don't expect the smartest comedy of the year.

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