Imagine meeting the man (or woman) of your dreams. They’re dreamy (obviously), kind, intelligent, working a stable job, and seem well put together. Everything in your life is going perfectly and then…. And then you meet the Monster.
Everything that you’ve been through until now can’t prepare you for this. Everything you do is wrong, everything you say is taken out of context, and your feelings are never taken into consideration because you’re clearly wrong. You may not have dealt with this creature, you may never deal with a creature like it, but we can only hope that it is as entertaining as this movie.
Monster-in-Law, staring Jennifer Lopez as Charlie, Michael Vartan as Dr. Kevin Fields, and Jane Fonda as Viola Fields, is a fun comedy film that always has me laughing no matter how many times I’ve seen it. That is the testament of a good comedy film. Not every film is able to watched multiple times and enjoyed as if it were the first time after all. The actors have good chemistry with one another, even when it feels like their characters are seconds away from slamming one another against the table. The beauty of comedy lays within the interrelationships of the characters (which depends almost entirely on how the actors portray them). Their humor is crucial to the film being well received, and thankfully Jane Fonda and Jennifer Lopez have a large list of credentials for a film like this.
Charlie is a young woman who wants to experience life for everything it has to offer so she works temporary jobs so that she might never have the same experience twice. One day, while walking a pack of dogs, she runs into a hot jogger and things slowly start to progress.
Feeling a little on the outs of the dating world, Charlie of course has her standard issue movie friends, girlfriend Morgan (Annie Parisse) and G.B.F. Remy (Adam Scott whom many now know from Parks and Recreations). After a few miscommunications, things begin to work out for Charlie and Kevin and just as they’re about to take the next big step, Viola is released from prison.
Tied to Jane Fonda’s Viola is one of the most hilarious characters in the entire film, Ruby (played by Wanda Sykes), Viola’s personal assistant and sometime friend. The two make an interesting pair together, and Wanda Sykes tends to steal the show whenever she’s on screen (but it’s awesome so we don’t care).
Monster-in-Law takes your typical romantic comedy and substitutes the drama and obstacles for a single obstacle, the aforementioned soon-to-be-mother-in-law. Viola will stop at nothing to make sure that her son is marrying the right person, and she is extremely certain that Charlie is not that person. Thankfully Charlie starts to see through Viola’s machinations and begins to fight back in an effort to prove that her relationship with Kevin is entirely about love and has nothing to do with the money he earns or comes from.
Comedies, as I’ve said before, have a tendency to throw all of the best parts in a trailer and then we’re left with nothing but a flat film. Monster-in-Law keeps the jokes coming throughout the majority of the film and makes certain that we aren’t bowled over in the process.
The dynamic between Jane Fonda and Jennifer Lopez is an entertainingly antagonistic one and it seems to devolve throughout the course of the movie as they succumb to deeper levels. They aren’t just the main characters, they are by far the biggest names in the movie at this point and as such have recognition on their side. You might see one of their films specifically because THEY are in it (which is part of my definition of an A-list celebrity). Because they are established actors we expect more from them, and watching them beat each other up is made funnier because of how we know these two actresses.
Unfortunately for Dr. Kevin Fields, this is a precarious situation that I think nobody should have to be put through. For one, your spouse-to-be should never (and thankfully Charlie never does) try and force you into making a “me or them” choice and neither should your parents. On the same hand your parents should not try to undermine your relationship simply because they think you can do, or deserve, better. Both sides are important to the party in the middle and when put in a situation like this, it tends to not be as funny as it is in Monster-in-Law.
But that’s the point of a comedy film, to shine a laughing light on the world’s problems.