Thursday, May 12, 2005


Monster-in-Law (Director: Robert Luketic)

Luketic hit the scene with Legally Blonde and then went on to direct the mediocre Win A Date With Tad Hamilton!

There are several movies in the first 5 months of 2005 that will be vying for worst of the year. Alone in the Dark, Son of the Mask, Elektra, Cursed, King's Ransom, House of Wax, and this film. It begs the question, "Did the studios decide 2005 was the dumping ground for all of their worst ideas?"

Movies made strictly for women have the same stench that testosterone-fueled action pictures have. They, with few exceptions, are just as dumb and insulting to intelligence as their big brothers. When every moment is geared towards what the filmmakers believe an average woman will go for, you've already lost the men in the audience and then you lose the women who know they're being pandered to.

The movie starts off with Charlie (Jennifer Lopez) meeting Kevin (Michael Vartan) in the typical romantic comedy tradition of fate, as they keep running into each other and besides, it was in Charlie's horoscope that love is right in front of her nose. We do not get to see romance blossom between the two...instead we go to Kevin's mother Viola (Jane Fonda in her first movie since 1990's Stanley & Iris), a Jane Pauley-esque reporter who is being replaced with a younger woman, which sets off some serious mania, breaking down in her last interview and attacking a Britney Spears lookalike. During her recovery, Charlie and Kevin have had months together, and Kevin takes Charlie home to meet his mom. Kevin pops the question, and mom becomes the "monster" in the title, trying to be so obnoxious that Charlie will reconsider marrying her son. When Charlie discovers what Viola has been up to, she fights back.

What follows is several hundred crying scenes that will give you a headache, Fonda going into hyperdrive with overacting. The movie just keeps telling everyone how to think, "I should laugh here," or "I should find this amusing." Michael Vartan, for better or worse, is almost completely out of the picture by the time this psychological war begins, a movie that once again is afraid to go to the dark side--copping out with fantasy violence scenes that are now seemingly a staple in movies. What's more, is the film tries to make it out that Viola's problems stem from her replacement and feeling old, but she is an unlikeable character even before all of that.

Also in the picture, playing characters far more deserving of their own picture but playing staple supporting players--Wanda Sykes as Viola's assistant Ruby, Adam Scott (The Aviator, Torque) as friend of Charlie and token gay character Remy (I mean, if he's just a friend of someone who looks like Jennifer Lopez, he must be gay, right?), and token funny friend Morgan (Annie Parisse), and as if the movie couldn't resist any more actors from Torque, Monet Mazur plays the token ex-girlfriend of Kevin, Fiona. And how in the hell did Will Arnett (Gob from "Arrested Development") find himself here?

This movie will ask the question, Which is the worst movie Jane Fonda has ever appeared in, this one or Leonard Part 6? You make the call.


At 5/12/2005 04:04:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

I forgot Fonda was even in Leonard Part 6. But this movie seems to be building it's hype through the "first film Fonda's done in 15 years." The same was done with Barbara Streisand in last year's "Meet the Fockers;" it was her first film in eight years. So, one may wonder, why after such a long abscence, would two mega stars of the past return in crap like "Fockers" and "Stepmonster?"
Granted, I have not seen "Stepmonster," but I cannot imagine Chris is wrong in any of his opinions.

I think the simple fact is, that while in some ways these ladies might have been tired of acting; it may have more to do with the fact that they couldn't get any decent roles. I mean "Stanley and Iris" is god awful, and Streisand's last picture before her miraculous return was the equally terrible "The Mirror Has Two Faces."

Now, that directors and producers seem to want to take the Tarantino approach and try to give past successes new careers, Fonda and Streisand have found their pictures that while might not be good, they might make enough money to put them back in a driver's seat to get some decent pictures made. I hope it works for them; I have nothing against either actress. Fonda has been in a lot of good movies (Klute, They Shoot Horses Don't They?, On Golden Pond, etc.). However, let's hope they can actually make some good movies again now that there names are back out there.

At 5/16/2005 09:57:00 AM, Blogger Kevin Rector said...

My wife went last Saturday with her girlfriends to see this movie. She said it was good and that she enjoyed it.
Of course, she's not nearly the film critic that Chris is, she regularly likes movies that I and all my friends think are crap.
My wife and her friends and people like them are the target audience for this film and apparenly Hollywood got it right (if "right" means making a mindless product that a subsection of society will enjoy -- if "right" means a film that is actually good I would imagine that they got it wrong).
Which brings me to another point, it seems that men are far more critical of movies than women. I know this is a generalization, but most women I know just want something that touches some sort of emotional chord in them. Most men that I know however want a film with depth, good story telling, excellent character development an absense of triteness, and creativity.
Of course it could just be the nature of the men and the women that I know.

At 5/16/2005 09:58:00 AM, Blogger Kevin Rector said...

Oh, another example of how my wife and I differ on films. Saturday night we watched Collateral. I loved it and Andrea had a hard time staying awake. Go figure.


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