Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mothers Day at the Movies: A Look Back at Monster in Law

With Mother's Day upon us, I thought it might be fun to visit another type of mother -- the mother in law.  Hollywood has almost always portrayed her as evil and Monster-in-Law, the 2005 comedy that pits Jane Fonda as a jealous/protective/nightmare mother in law Viola Fields and Jennifer Lopez as the prospective daughter in law is a perfect case in point.

The sets were designed by production designer Missy Stewart who also gave us the memorable interiors of Legally Blonde. "Set" in idyllic Montecito, Fonda's  manse was actually a 1927 Wallace Neff estate in Pasadena with a wonderful rose garden and fabulous oval shaped entrance hallway. The decor is  elegant with lots of French, Mediterranean and classic Southern California touches. I love the ivory tone on tone palette used for the bedroom and sitting rooms.

Stewart filled every space with details to tell us about the character's life and used actual photos of Fonda with Ted Turner, Jon Voight, Oprah Winfrey and Gloria Steinem for a tabletop vignette.

Viola's master bedroom is filled with dramatic bed and window treatments, Aubusson rugs and decor as grand as the character herself. And speaking of over the top, Fonda reportedly used ex-husband Ted Turner as inspiration for her role.

Viola's son Kevin has a Craftsman house (chosen for its masculine attributes) with asian inspired touches.

 Kym Barrett is responsible for the film's costume designs and felt they were "supporting characters in and of themselves" as "clothing is used as weaponry between Charlie (Lopez) and Viola." With her large hats, abundance of jewelry and power looks that mean business, Viola's wardrobe is intimidating and over the top while Charlie is costumed in hip, bohemian street looks.

 Mother's Day is May 9th -- score some points and do something nice for your mother in law too. Or not.

Photo Credits: Set photos courtesy of Missy Stewart, New Line.


  1. I have not seen this movie yet and appreciate the set design tour which is prompting me to rent it! What an interesting tidbit where Jane Fonda's inspiration for her character comes from. :-)

  2. Maybe they should do a father in law film next!! Thanks for reading!

  3. Great Site!! I am a movie freak!!! Love the mix of design and film!! All the best, Connie

  4. Cathy,
    Thanks for giving me a chance to linger over the design specifics that I missed while watching the film. I miss Jane Fonda on the big screen, and hope she is offered more substantial roles. That is, if filmmakers are still willing to greenlight them!

  5. I would love to see Jane F back on the screen as well. She is doing alot of good works these days in Atlanta.