Before knockabout comedy Monster-In-Law, Jane Fonda hadn't stepped before a camera in 15 years. As the potential mother-in-law of Jennifer Lopez, " the veteran star is a joy to behold" under the direction of up-and-coming filmmaker Robert Luketic. While Fonda's performance was highly praised, most critics were unforgiving of flaws in the script. Nonetheless it was a modest box-office hit.
Monster On Set
"The joy had gone out of it," says Fonda when asked why she left the movie business in 1990. Welcome Back, Jane Fonda is a light-hearted tribute to this versatile actress who goes on to explain that Monster-In-Law gave her the chance to "be over the top - and I like being over the top", she adds. Of course co-star Jennifer Lopez is full of admiration for her co-star and, in a further attempt to dispel rumours about on-set bitching, Keeping It Real shows us a softer side to J-Lo. Fonda admits to being wary of her at first but asserts, "I think we're very funny and good together!" That comes just before a snippet of behind-the-scenes footage where J-Fo makes a crack about her young co-star's bottle blonde hair!
Cameras follow Robert Luketic on location in The Man Behind The Monster, a fast-paced and entertaining video diary where he reveals tricks of the trade like "The Texas Switch" (apparently even cars have stunt doubles) and gives us an inside look at the infamous cake-dunking sequence. "I've never worked with a director who could be my son," exclaims Fonda, "I mean he wears braces and rides around on a scooter!" Video evidence also shows that Luketic has a tendency to giggle and screech like a little girl during takes.
Comedienne Wanda Sykes pops up all over the disc with scathing gems of wisdom but lets her hips do the talking in the bizarre musical interlude Ruby's Makeup Bag. She also contributes to a group commentary with director Luketic and various members of the crew. It's a very chatty affair with passing notes on lighting and production design and again there's an emphasis on the off-screen dynamic between Fonda and Lopez. On first getting them into a room together, Luketic recalls how they both kicked off their shoes and sat on the carpet "and pretty soon," he says, "we were all holding hands and singing Kumbaya". Hmm...
Elsewhere Vartan The Man is a fleeting nod to male lead Michael Vartan (who looks to have fleeced the entire cast and crew in daily poker games) while the Lifestyles and Fashion featurettes showcase the glam LA locations and Fonda's outrageous costumes. Seven deleted scenes are also included but it's easy to see why they were cut. In particular, a fantasy sequence where Charlie (Lopez) imagines Fonda looking like a gun-wielding dominatrix just doesn't sit well.
A five-minute gag reel is our final assurance that Fonda and Lopez had a jolly old time together (albeit while scratching each other's eyes out). Altogether it's a bright and breezy DVD, which perhaps boasts more kicking and punching than all of Jane Fonda's fitness videos put together.