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A wedding cake with figurines of the bride and groom. A finger pushes the bride into the cake.
Promotional poster
Directed by Robert Luketic
Produced by Chris Bender
J.C. Spink
Paula Weinstein
Written by Anya Kockoff
Music by David Newman
Cinematography Russell Carpenter
Edited by Scott Hill
Kevin Tent
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release date
  • May 13, 2005 (2005-05-13)
Running time
102 minutes
Country Australia
New Zealand
United States
Language English
Budget $44 million
Box office $154,749,918

Monster-in-Law is a 2005 Australian-American comedy film directed by Robert Luketic and starring Jane Fonda, Jennifer Lopez, Michael Vartan and Wanda Sykes. It marks a return to cinema for Fonda, being her first film since Stanley & Iris fifteen years earlier. The screenplay is written by Anya Kochoff. The original music score is composed by David Newman. The film was negatively received by critics but was a huge box office success.


Charlie Cantilini (Jennifer Lopez) is a temp/dog walker/yoga instructor and aspiring fashion designer from Venice Beach, California, who meets doctor Kevin Fields (Michael Vartan). She thinks he's gay at first, based on a lie Kevin's former girlfriend Fiona (Monet Mazur) told her. But then Kevin asks her out, and Charlie believes that she's finally found the right man.

Things start to go wrong when Kevin introduces Charlie to his mother, Viola Fields (Jane Fonda). Viola is a former newscaster, who has recently been replaced by someone younger, and is in the midst of a meltdown. Loathing Charlie from the outset, Viola becomes even more distraught when Kevin proposes to Charlie. Fearing that she'll lose her son the same way she lost her career, she sets out to ruin Kevin and Charlie's relationship. With Ruby (Wanda Sykes), her assistant, she tries everything possible to drive Charlie away.

Charlie eventually catches on to Viola's plan and fights back. On Charlie's wedding day, Viola turns up wearing a white dress instead of the peach-colored dress specially made for her. This leads to a violent stand-off between the two, leading with Viola refusing to accept Charlie and states she'll never be good enough for Kevin. Suddenly, Viola's own dreadful mother-in-law, Kevin's grandmother, Gertrude Fields (Elaine Stritch), appears and they have an indignant argument, while Gertrude takes a liking to Charlie, saying she is stunning, her grandson is a lucky man, that she is an "exotic Latina", and if only her son, Kevin's father, was as lucky to find a woman like Charlie. Gertrude's resentment of Viola bears a strong resemblance to Viola's feelings of animosity toward Charlie. Gertrude even believes that Kevin's father had died years ago of "terminal disappointment", for which Gerturde holds Viola responsible. Viola counters stating Gertrude "smothered him to death", because she thought nobody was ever good enough for him (basically similar to how Viola is). Gertrude, satisfied she got her last word in, leaves; showing she still favors Charlie. Charlie decides to back–down as she witnesses Gertrude and Viola's relationship. "Nothing's going to change", she laments to Viola after Gertrude leaves the room, "In thirty years that will be us."

Charlie exits to tell Kevin that the wedding is off. But before that can happen, Ruby enters and talks with Viola. Viola is miffed that Charlie compared her to Gertrude, although Ruby points out that Viola is actually far worse than Gertrude, as she doesn't ever recall Gertrude trying to poison Viola once, referring to earlier at the rehearsal dinner when Viola put crushed nuts (to which Charlie is highly allergic) in the meal's gravy. Ruby points out that Viola's efforts against Charlie to make Kevin happy are unwarranted. "Whatever made you think he wasn't?" is her final point. Viola has an epiphany and realizes that she wants Charlie to stay, and they reconcile, ending the feud. Charlie then explains to Viola that she wants her to stay, too, on one condition: if Viola accepts the boundaries Charlie needs, if she is present at any family event, and if she treats her children with love.

Charlie and Kevin then get married and when Charlie throws her wedding bouquet, Viola catches the flowers. As Charlie and Kevin drive away to their honeymoon, the film ends as Viola and Ruby walk out of the celebration.


Reception [edit]

Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 16% based on 163 reviews, and the website's consensus stating, "While Jane Fonda steals the movie in her return to the screen, a tired script and flimsy performances make this borderline comedy fall flat."[1] Metacritic gave the film a rating of 31% based on reviews from 38 critics.[2]

The $43-million film became a box-office success debuting at number #1 at the box office, earning $83 million ($154.7 worldwide)[3] during its theatrical run in summer 2005.

Jennifer Lopez earned a Golden Raspberry Award nomination for Worst Actress for her performance in the film, but lost to Jenny McCarthy for Dirty Love.

Home media [edit]

The two-disc set DVD was released on August 30, 2005 with these features: Audio Commentary, 7 Deleted Scenes, a Blooper Reel, and 4 Featurettes:

  1. "Welcome Back Jane"
  2. "A Jennifer of All Trades"
  3. "Vartan the Man"
  4. "Trendsetters" (2 Parts)

TV series[edit]

On October 13, 2014, it was reported that the Fox Broadcasting Company is developing a TV show based on the film with Amy B. Harris as creator.[4]


External links[edit]