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MONSTER-IN-LAW

Review by Chastity Campbell

Starring: Jane Fonda, Jennifer Lopez, Michael Vartan, Wanda Sykes
Director: Robert Luketic
Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround
Video:  2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen / 1.33:1 Standard Fullscreen
Studio: New Line Home Entertainment
Features: See Review
Length:  100 Minutes           
Release Date:  August 30, 2005

Film ***

When you review movies, I believe you have to be able to separate you own personal feelings about a specific actor/actress’ beliefs in order to view things through an unbiased eye. 

I knew going in this DVD review was going to be a challenge for me, which is why I think I put it off.  I will admit to not agreeing with the politics of certain people associated with this film.  However, I found that my viewpoint paid off in a big way, as I allowed the characters of the film to wrap around and entertain me…and they did, big time!

Monster-In-Law marks the return to the big screen for Jane Fonda.  I watched about half of On Golden Pond, and was bored to tears.  On the flip side of that, I couldn’t get enough of her in 9 to 5, decked out in safari gear…RARRRR!!  Seeing her all these years later in her first film foray since 1990’s Stanley & Iris…well it brought a new perspective to me of her as an actress.

Viola is a TV talk show host.  She’s been on the air for many years...okay, probably decades, and wouldn’t you know it...they are sacking her for a younger host.  You know, someone who can get in touch with the TV talk show audience of today.  Viola has a nervous breakdown on air, attacks one of her Britney Spears-esque guests and ends up on the funny farm. 

Six months later she emerges refreshed, sober, and ready to face the world.  Well, she was ready that is, until she found out that while she was figuring out how many bales short of a load she was at Two Pines Mental Institution that her beloved son Kevin, who is a very handsome and talented brain surgeon, has met, dated, and moved in with a girl named Charlie. 

Viola doesn’t think Charlie is good enough for her son.  Charlie thinks Kevin’s mom is too clingy and doesn’t know what’s best for her son.  Much fighting, many devious plans, and some good mental imagery will flash across your TV screen when watching this DVD and that’s just the beginning of the fun!

As I said before, I am not a great fan of Mrs. Fonda.  However, she truly wowed me with her performance as the devious, half mental, Viola. She layered this character over herself so thick that it really was a true acting transformation.  

Michael Vartan, whom some of you might know from the ABC TV series ALIAS, was very easy going and laid back in his role as Kevin.  I really enjoyed the way he played the character, and how his character played off of Fonda’s.

Now, J-Lo has gotten a bad rap for a few of the movies she has done in recent years.  Yes, I will be the first to admit the Gigli was a disaster.  However, The Wedding Planner, Maid In Manhattan, and Stronger are examples of how well she can act when the right material is put in front of her.  I’m here to tell you that Monster In Law is the right kind of film for Mrs. Lopez, and she did an amazing job entertaining me.

I can’t leave out my favorite character in this film, Ruby.   As Viola’s personal assistant/best friend/henchwoman, Ruby stole the show from everyone with her one liners and backhanded comments directed mostly at Viola.  Wanda Sykes is truly a joy to watch on screen.  She has so much energy and is feisty as can be.  I loved the interplay between Viola and Ruby.  You knew Viola couldn’t make it without Ruby, but at the same time Ruby depends on Viola, too.

I have to say Monster In Law entertained me on every level that a great movie should.  I loved the acting, the story, and the settings.  If there’s no Monster in your DVD closet, then you better get on the stick and head to the video store today!

Video ***

I really enjoy having the option to view a movie in both the Widescreen, and Standard Fullscreen formats.   I am a Widescreen fan myself. but when your watching a movie like this, sometimes it’s better to use the Standard Fullscreen format so you can get a tighter look at the characters, their reactions to certain situations, and their expressions. 

The 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen version of the film was very clean with no degradation or artifacting due to the compression ratio.  High marks for this DVD’s visualization!

Audio ***

Crisp, clean, high quality digital sound...what more can you ask for in a DVD?

Some might say the 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround is wasted on a film this narrow in scope and scale, but I disagree.  I think the 5.1 worked very well for this movie, and helped push it one notch higher on the must see ladder.

Features ****

She was such a monster, the extras had to have their own disc!  

The Blooper Reel is a gas, and will make you explode with laughs.  Seven really cool deleted scenes show you what they didn’t want you to see, or what their wasn’t time for!   Ruby’s Make-Up Bag is wonderful; you won’t want to miss the things hidden in there.

Five awesome behind-the-scenes featurettes are included to give you that fully detailed look at the making of a monster.  Commentary tracks that help you better understand the ebb and flow of this wonderful film are also included.

Teaser trailers, Sneak Peeks, and Online DVD-Rom features help this monster leap off the disc and into your feature loving heart!

Summary:

Awesome audio and video, as well as some of the funniest material I’ve seen in a long time, make this Monster one you will definitely not mind having around the house!

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