There are two things that make Monster-in-Law watchable, barely, and in order, they are Wanda Sykes and Jane Fonda. It's hard to believe that Fonda (Stanley & Iris, Old Gringo) has not acted in fifteen years, and harder to believe that she would choose a film like Monster-in-Law to make a comeback. In it, she plays Viola Fields, a recently television anchor (akin to Barbara Walters) and full-blown psycho. Fonda looks like she had fun during the shoot, going way over the top as her character. Sykes (Pootie Tang, Down to Earth) is Ruby, her smart-ass assistant. Sykes does the same thing she does in every film, but it's welcome here since it's still hilarious. She is by far the most interesting person in the film, partially because she's insulting everybody else, which is exactly how the audience feels. Elaine Stritch (Autumn in New York, Small Time Crooks) also makes a wildly funny, if short, cameo.

The rest of Monster-in-Law is pretty stupid. Viola's son Kevin (Michael Vartan, One Hour Photo, The Next Best Thing) is a successful doctor, who meets Charlie Cantilini (Jennifer Lopez, Shall We Dance, Jersey Girl). Charlie walks dogs, teaches, yoga, temps, and does all sorts of other things. She is the perfect woman, and Kevin and Charlie hit it off immediately. Viola is fiercely protective of Kevin, and jealous of the attention he showers on Charlie, so she sets out to undermine their relationship. This mini-war escalates when the two engage to marry. Monster-in-Law actually begins with Viola losing her job and Kevin meeting Charlie. The film jumps ahead to Viola leaving a mental health facility and Kevin and Charlie well into their relationship. Basically, the film skipped probably the most interesting stuff.

Lopez is usually horrible, but that's because she trolls around romantic-comedy type films. She has the ability to act well, and her ability peeks out here at times, typically in the very beginning or very end of the film. The rest of the time, she is reacting to, and bowled over by Fonda and Sykes. Charlie is just a very bland character, and director Robert Luketic (Legally Blonde, Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!) doesn't do anything with her until she grows a pair in the third act. Vartan's Kevin is worse; he is just a pretty face. The primary issue with Monster-in-Law is the script by Anya Kochoff. It is pretty moronic. All of the characters wallow around in slapstick like antics, and do not resemble anything people would normally find in the real world. The story is along the same lines as Guess Who and Meet the Parents, although this time, the comedy is much more mean-spirited, which makes the inevitable happy ending seem all the more bizarre.

Haro Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 40 minutes, Rated PG-13 for sex references and language.

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