10 Years: “Monster-In-Law”

Some romantic comedies just never get old. Okay, that’s not true, they may, mostly because they weren’t good to begin with, and I mean that from the standpoint of the individual viewer. Some have always been special to us, and no matter what others think, they remain just as fun as the first time around.

The New Line Cinema film “Monster-in-Law”, as ridiculous as it is, is still quite enjoyable for a romantic comedy.

This romantic comedy stars Jennifer Lopez (upcoming Lila & Eve”, “Home”), Jane Fonda (“Grace and Frankie”, “This Is Where I Leave You”), Michael Vartan (“Satisfaction”, “Bates Motel”), Wanda Sykes (“Alpha House”, “Real Husbands of Hollywood”), Adam Scott (upcoming films “Krampus”, “Black Mass”), Monet Mazur (“Rizzoli & Isles”, “Adopting Terror”), Annie Parisse (“House of Cards”, “And So It Goes”), Will Arnett (“The Millers”, “The Lego Movie”), and Elaine Stritch (“30 Rock”, “Law & Order”).

The film was directed by Rober Luketic (“Jane the Virgin”, “Paranoia”) and written by Anya Kochoff.

The film originally opened in theaters on May 13, 2005.

If I haven’t before, let me say it now. I’m a sucker for a romantic comedy. I always have been and I’m not sure why. At some point they all just started to look the same, especially if they had the same actor in every other one. That, however, never stopped me from at least seeing what that particular romantic comedy was about. In this case, I actually went so far out as to see the film in theaters. You know, when ticket prices were far cheaper than they are today. Apparently I really liked it, which is also evident from the faded ticket below. I’ve owned it on DVD since it was released. Up until now, for some reason, I hadn’t gotten around to watching it again. In some ways, I’m actually quite okay with this fact. If I’d seen it in the last few years I’d probably remember it more, and the funny bits wouldn’t have been as amusing as they were.
There’s something cute about this film. This seems like an obvious observation. The problem is, I don’t think I’m entirely sure as to what that reason is. Maybe it’s just because of how ridiculous some of the situations are in this film, or the entire premise.

Lopez and Vartan aren’t mismatched, and it’s fun to watch them, but only after Vartan’s introduced Lopez to Fonda. For a moment, as the film began it’s first 20 to 30 minutes (I didn’t really keep track), I was finding myself bored and wondering if I could get past this part to the more enjoyable stuff. I don’t think it helps, overall, that they randomly bump into each other, decide to start dating and then she meets his mother, all in the time span of a few months. A few months? What? Really? A few months and he wants to marry her? Dumb.

However, once we do get the first Lopez and Fonda meet, it’s thankfully quite funny and allows for the film to pick up and be worth it. While it seems annoying, the fake out scenes, where Fonda or Lopez dream about doing something horrible to the other, they’re actually quite funny to me. They may only be occur a few times, it’s oddly enough to give me a brief moment of laughs and show how much they both don’t seem to like each other, as is the premise of the film.

Then there’s the situations of sabotage between Fonda and Lopez, which provide the rest of the humor you need from these two women. I guess you could say that most of these interactions, apart from ridiculous, border on childish. I’d be fine with that as they do appear to be childish. Regardless, they’re somehow still incredibly funny to me, amusing to others, and it’s what helps to make this film so much fun. Perhaps it’s just the way that it was all executed that makes it hilarious and seem to work. The writer didn’t necessarily go too far out of her way to set up some kind of comedy gag.

While those comedy gags and the interactions between Fonda and Lopez are wonderful, it’s actually Sykes and Fonda that truly make this film worth it. Sykes herself just steals every scene she’s in with Fonda, and after all these years, I’m absolutely loving her all over again because of this! While most of the interactions came off of chemistry and what was written as dialogue, I was actually okay with this. I always got some kind of chuckle or big laugh out of anything that these two did together that you could’ve just kept the camera with them and I’d gladly watch that! It does make me wonder, at least for Sykes, how much was written and how much she was allowed to ad lib. She is a comedienne after all. There was at least one that involved some physical comedy, and it’s probably my favorite, that even after watching it in the film and looking for it on YouTube (below), I still laughed because of it! The physical comedy is great in it, but it also has that same chemistry I was speaking of, and that’s what makes Sykes and Fonda perfect in this film.

Sure there are many hysterical moments in this film, like at the beginning when you’re really being introduced to Fonda’s character and she lunges for the idiot pop singer, but for those looking for something else (a smarter romantic comedy), you’re not going to get it. As far as romantic comedies go, it seems to only commit a few crimes with its overall story. The rest is just hijinks between the mother-in-law and bride. I’ve never had a problem with this film and don’t envision that changing, which is okay, because even if it is a pretty stupid movie, it’s an enjoyable stupid movie that marked the return to film for Fonda after 15 years away.

Here’s the trailer, for old times sake:


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