Directed by Robert Luketic, ‘Monster-in-Law’ is a romantic comedy that centers upon the relationship between Charlie Cantilini (Jennifer Lopez) and her future mother-in-law, Viola Fields (Jane Fonda). Charlie is an aspiring fashion designer, who currently works multiple jobs to live in California. She meets Dr. Kevin Fields (Michael Vartan), and the two quickly fall in love. Kevin then takes a nervous Charlie to meet his mother, Viola. After being replaced by a younger woman as the host of her talk show, Viola develops an immediate hatred towards Charlie, considering her a threat to Viola’s relationship with her son.
The loathing deepens when Kevin proposes to Charlie; thus, Viola decides to scare the recently engaged woman off by enacting elaborate plans with the help of her assistant Ruby (Wanda Sykes). These hilarious schemes take the audience on hilariously chaotic adventures with some iconic scenes that you will never forget! While slightly exaggerated within the movie, the strained relationship between the two women is indeed relatable for some. If you are wondering whether the story is inspired by reality or not, we have all you need to know!
Is Monster-in-Law Based on a True Story
No, ‘Monster-in-Law’ is not based on a true story. Screenwriter Anya Kochoff — who marked her feature film debut with the film — penned her script inspired by multiple conversations she and her girlfriends had over the years. Talking to numerous newly-married couples and those already enjoying marital bliss, Kochoff became privy to many real-life stories that ranged from hilarious to heart-wrenching. After putting nearly a year of thought into the story, Kochoff decided to write the first draft of the script, which she wrapped up in just about a month.
While writing the story, Kochoff decided to write it from the bride’s perspective instead of the mother’s viewpoint, which people usually sympathize with. “I wanted the audience to experience what it is like to adopt a mother, to adopt a family,” Kochoff said. “I wanted people to appreciate how difficult it can be for the women marrying the sons of their soon-to-be mothers-in-law.” In the script, Kochoff tried to demonstrate the challenges a bride faces when it comes to getting embraced by her new family.
Talking about how she added a personal spin to the story, Kochoff further explained, “I never believed that until I got married myself. It’s hard enough to deal with the idiosyncrasies of your own relatives without taking on the problems of a whole new family. That’s what this movie is really about – it’s about being so excited to meet the man of your dreams and then realizing that there’s an entirely separate set of issues that come with it because even perfect love has its drawbacks. This is a story of overcoming those drawbacks; it’s the bride-underdog story.”
The writer then pitched the story to producers Chris Bender and JC Spink, who were quite interested in moving ahead. “The title alone had me interested,” Spink commented. “Some of the best movies seem to work when you know what to expect just from the title. Of course, it works best if the audience has a strong connection through a universal theme, like Meet The Parents, for example.” The first draft of the script was sent to two-time Oscar-winner actress Jane Fonda. The actress had not appeared in any movies since 1995 and decided that the romantic drama film would serve as a perfect comeback.
While the malicious nature of Viola is a conception of Kochloff’s script, Fonda based the over-the-top, unfiltered way of life of her character on her “favorite ex-husband,” Ted Turner. “When I got an opportunity to play Viola, it was like I had permission to be over the top because I knew what that could look like. I don’t mean to say that because it’s called Monster-in-Law that he’s a monster. I’m crazy about the man,” Fonda clarified. “Absolutely adore him and we’re close friends. Do you know what I’m saying? It’s like, just go all the way, hit for the fences.”
The film was helmed by Robert Luketic, who was resting on the back of the success of ‘Legally Blonde,‘ with Jennifer Lopez giving a compelling performance as Charlie Cantilini, the naïve bride-to-be. While not necessarily based on a true story, ‘Monster-in-Law’ does present a relatability factor for people who have been in similar situations. The story is indeed fictional, packed with scenes that will make you laugh out loud. However, it does contain a kernel of truth regarding the compromises that come with a marriage.
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