The phrase 'chewing the scenery' never made much sense to me (is this a phrase used in normal human conversation? Ever?), but I know it when I see it. And Jane Fonda gnaws it to the bone in Monster-in-Law.
Turns out Jane has come back to make a 95-minute mother-in-law joke. Scratch that, now I'm exaggerating. A joke is funny. A joke has rhythm and structure and timing and a punch line. This, by all evidence, is no joke.
It repeatedly falls to Fonda to sell the movie's wheezy concept of the mother-in-law as battle-ax. And like any trouper attempting go-for-broke comedy for the first time at her age, she holds nothing back.
This shrill, undermotivated, feature-length catfight between Jennifer Lopez's demure prospective bride and Fonda's unhinged prospective mother-in-law makes sure to underline, boldface and exclamation-point every plot turn and line of dialogue.
For all the frenzied (and badly staged) I Love Lucy-style slapstick, the movie's core conflict is just a marketing concept, a fluffy showcase of dueling auras with nothing much at stake and nothing really imperiled.
This isn't a very smart movie, rattling along as it does in the bright, superficial, meaninglessly expert way of too many modern romantic comedies -- and definitely of too many Jennifer Lopez comedies.
The experience of viewing this movie represents a one-way ticket into tedium and a forced 90-minute imprisonment with Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda, both of whom give performances that can charitably be called cringe-inducing.