Monster-in-Law 1.0 stars

After an absence of fifteen years, Jane Fonda returns to an altered Hollywood landscape (no Julia, no Comes a Horseman, no They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, anywhere in sight) for a frivolous star vehicle, teamed with, or rather pitted against, Jennifer Lopez in what amounts to an extended catfight: an over-the-hill TV interviewer determined to save her doctor son from marriage to a mere "temp." (It falls to the wizened Elaine Stritch to deliver the brutal truth: "My God, you look old.") These are two actresses, Fonda and Lopez, who know perfectly well what they're doing, and they're doing quite a lot. Watching their head-to-head competition is sort of fun in a wallowing, wriggling, belly-crawling kind of way. But the magic word that helped to win Oscars for the lead actresses in Monster's Ball and Monster is of no avail here. Director Robert Luketic, employing the buoyant colors and bright tone he favors, pays homage to his own Legally Blonde when a Britney Spears-esque airhead cites it as one of her favorite "old movies," a sufficiently self-deprecating homage. With Michael Vartan and Wanda Sykes. 2005.

Duncan Shepherd

This movie is not currently in theaters.


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