Bomb Rating: 

I frequently find that unintentional bad grammar is an immediate indicator that a movie is going to suck, so when Charlie (Jennifer Lopez) asks her fiancé, Kevin (Michael Vartan), "Why don't you give your mom and I some time alone?" it spells trouble.

The correct way to begin that particular question is "Why don't you give your mom and me..." as in "Why don't you find the theater manager and give your mom and me a refund?" How is it that there are so many Hollywood screenwriters who can get a movie made but don't know the simplest rules of grammar? It's one thing when I hear such things on my local newscast where reporters are frequently half-drunk and winging it, but screenwriters have ages to fix these things and they don't because they're too lazy and stupid.

Stupidity is just one of "Monster-in-Law's" many problems. Jane Fonda's return to film after an umpteen-year absence reminds me of Barbra Streisand's return in "Meet the Fockers," proving that no matter how much experience an actor might have, it does virtually nothing to improve her ability to recognize a good script.

The story is so painfully predictable that I began to tense up not three minutes into the movie. Charlie and Kevin fall in love. Kevin takes Charlie to meet his overbearing mother, Viola (Jane Fonda). Viola immediately decides that Charlie isn't good enough and devotes herself to making Charlie miserable. Do these two enemies find common ground in the end and become friends? You bet! For clever plot twists, the movie uses such inventions as the "walking in on the fiancé at the precise time some strange woman is kissing him" scene. What drama!

What the film uses for humor could substitute for slander in some blue states. Charlie's group of friends looks like something out of a Robert Smigel cartoon. The most notorious of the bunch is Remy (Adam Scott), who strolls into Charlie's apartment unannounced because he's the "non-threatening gay neighbor." Then there's Viola's so-called assistant, Ruby (Wanda Sykes). Viola is quick to call Ruby her friend. However, Ruby's role, beyond putting up with Viola's crap, is unclear. Her main function seems to consist of being black and servile.

If nothing else, the film sure did seem to get the "over-85" crowd laughing (or coughing), and that's never a demographic to be ignored. Theaters that want to make some extra money on this film would be well-advised to switch out the popcorn and Coke for Milk of Magnesia and Ex-Lax.

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