A review of “Monster-in-Law” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: *

Rating: PG-13 for mature themes

Run Time: 1 hour, 36 minutes

 

 

At this point it’s safe to say that J. Lo should stick to perfume and kicky workout wear.  Perhaps a CD or two for good measure.

La Lopez plays true to type as Charlotte “Charlie” Cantilini, a sweetheart of a workaholic who loves life and jumps in feet first; as dog-walker, interior designer, yoga instructor, you name it.

While catering a swanky cocktail party she meets Mr. Right – hunky Dr. Kevin Fields (hunkier Michael Vartan).  Cute banter and a couple of dates later the pair are in love and the good doctor wants Charlie to meet his mother (Jane Fonda as Viola Fields).

Not just any ordinary mother, but a Barbara Walters clone with a nasty temperament and diva-on-ice attitude. Mom has been put out to pasture by the network and she’s fit to be tied.

Naturally the meeting is a two-faced disaster, air-kisses and smiles masking jealousy and resentment.  Viola is determined to keep Kevin to herself and she’ll do whatever it takes.

Including faking a Sarah Bernhardt of a panic attack that gains her temporary residence at Kevin and Charlie’s groovy Craftsman bungalow. While doc cools his heels at an out-of-town medical conference Charlie is stuck nursing the volatile Viola.  Watch the sparks fly.  Watch Viola ratchet up the nasty tension. Watch J. Lo and J. Fo play hardball.

Lots of potential for laughs but there are few if any genuinely funny moments.  Fonda is uncharacteristically wooden; unsurprising considering the embarrassing script, every comic zinger a leaden clunker.  Saccharine clichés pepper the romance – “Stop looking so hard, love is right in front of you” and “Life’s too short to live the same day twice” – gag me.

Small saving grace: stand-up comic Wanda Sykes as Viola’s dry-witted assistant Ruby, whose tongue-in-cheek delivery is a wry oasis in an ocean of sap.