Fonda came out of a self-imposed fifteen-year retirement for THIS???
At one point, she was one of
the most acclaimed actresses in the world. She made some truly
applauded films like Coming Home, They Shoot Horses Don't They, Julia,
Klute, On Golden Pond, The China Syndrome and many, many others.
Fonda may be best
known for dramatic work, but she has done good work in comedy, too.
While I'm not a huge fan of her two best known comedies -- 9 to 5 and
Barbarella, at least she was funny in them. However, if you ever doubt that
she can make a truly great comedy, track down her 1977 film Fun With Dick
and Jane co-starring George Segal or Neil Simon's Barefoot in the
Park with Robert Redford.
she hasn't worked since making Stanley and Iris with Robert DeNiro
back in 1990. At first, the sabbatical was because of her marriage to
media mogul Ted Turner. However, they have been divorced for years,
and still Fonda never felt the need to dip her toe back into the pool.
makes it all the more puzzling that she finally took the leap for
Monster-In-Law, which could not have possibly been any funnier as a
script than it plays as a film. Wasn't her internal editor -- or even
more importantly her agent -- tapping her on the shoulder and going, "uhh,
Jane..." Granted, there aren't all that many good roles for an actress
of her age (which is 67), but there had to have been something better than
this. If there wasn't, perhaps her time would have been better spent
traveling or doing charity work or sleeping late. Hell, doing laundry or
looking for dust bunnies under her bed would have been time better spent.
saddled with the role of Viola Fields, an aging news anchor who has been
getting eased out of the game. It is supposed to be because she is
getting old, but watching the film, you can't help but kind of agree with
the people who are "retiring" her. Not only is she an
obstinate, troublesome, drunk old diva, but she is
completely insane. They give her one last chance to say goodbye on the
air with dignity, however she attacks a Britney-Spears-alike star and
gets committed. So much for dignity.
months later, Viola's son and pride and joy, Dr. Michael Fields (played by
Michael Vartan as the dimmest doctor in film history) decides to bring his
new lover to visit dear old mom. Charlene "Charlie" Cantilini (Jennifer Lopez) is
a nice, sweet, charming professional dog-walker. Despite the fact that
the sparks between his mama and his girlfriend seem a bit white hot, the goofball
doctor asks his new girlfriend to be his wife in front of his mother.
(These two have some mother-son issues that would keep Freud busy for
years.) Viola is horrified -- no son of hers, who she slaved to send
to med school, is going to marry some poor girl with an ethnic accent and a
conspicuous booty. (Viola is apparently not only insane, she is an
after dropping this bombshell, Michael conveniently has to run off, leaving
his angry mother to try to destroy his gal. After a series of
slapstick gags where Charlie tries to ignore the abuse Viola is sending her
way, J.Lo starts to fight back. Charlie and Viola launch an all-out prank war between the
women in Michael's life as they try to embarrass and mortify each other. This leads
to sad scenes with Jane Fonda face down in a plate of tripe. It's all
mean-spirited and unfunny. It also paints the screenplay into a corner
-- in the end there are only two possible climaxes, the two ladies have to
either grudgingly come to like each other or kill each other. We all
know which choice the filmmakers are going to make, although the audience is
kind of rooting for the other idea.
it's gotten to the point that we expect crap like this from Jennifer Lopez.
However it is just criminal that they are dragging Jane Fonda down into the
mud with her. If I didn't know better, I'd think this was some
kind of payback orchestrated by a perturbed Vietnam vet for the whole
"Hanoi Jane" thing. At about the same time as this film is coming out, Fonda released her
autobiography. At a recent book signing, a strange man was restrained after
he spat in her face, claiming it was a protest of her stance on the war. This film
figuratively repeats this act. So
much for dignity.
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Posted: June 3, 2005.