Thursday, April 23, 2020

One Day

The Sun is Also a Star
Director: Ry Russo-Young
Cast: Yara Shahidi, Charles Melton, John Leguizamo
Released: May 17, 2019

This is a movie based on a young adult book by Nicola Yoon, who also wrote Everything, Everything; another movie I also reviewed (and read the book). Even though Everything, Everything is her first novel, I read The Sun is Also a Star first and since I liked it a lot, I read her first book, but didn't really care for it (or the movie). The movie version of The Sun.... is not as good as the book, but it's better than Everything, Everything. I think the actors portraying the romantic couple in it have more chemistry than the two actors portraying the romantic couple in Everything, Everything. But I could just be biased since I liked that story better.

I read The Sun is Also a Star in the summer of 2018. I was a little worried I wouldn't have enough time to read it because I had checked out three or four other books from the library at the time and by the time I got to it, it was due in two days! Usually you can re-check a book three of four times! Now it is possible I did recheck this one at least once, but I noticed there were a few people waiting for it and if there's a certain amount of people waiting for a book, they don't let you re-check it. You have to return it so those people get a chance to read it. True, I could had just returned it, then checked it out again, but I decided to see how much of it I could read before I had to return it to the library. The book is 384 pages, which is quite a lot! But luckily for me, it read very fast and I was able to finish it in in time. The POV switches back and forth from the two main characters and a few other characters. The book is definitely better than the movie, but that's not surprising. This is a story that takes places in a day. You have 384 pages of the book to get to know these characters and read their story while you only get almost two hours for the movie. While you get to spend a day with these characters in the book and the movie, the day they spend together in the movie is truncated.

The day begins with seventeen-year-old Natasha (played by Yara Shahidi; she's the oldest daughter on Black-ish) going to an immigration office because her family is being deported to Jamaica tomorrow. She has lived in New York City since she was eight and is trying to find a way to be able to stay. Her parents have Jamaican accents, but she has a very American accent. I assume her younger brother, who moved to the U.S. when he was four, does too, but I honestly can't remember if he even has any lines. We will find out later that her dad works in a kitchen at a restaurant and he was there when ICE did a random raid and that is why they're being deported. I do not know when this happened, but they are scheduled to leave the country tomorrow. In the book, her father was pulled over for drunk driving and that is when it is revealed his visa had expired. (I admit I had to look this up because I didn't remember everything since I read the book a year and a half ago!) It was not clear in the movie if the family had a visa and it had expired or they had been in the country illegally all that time. I suspect they didn't want the negative aspect of the father driving drunk so they changed that. And that they didn't have time to really focus on the parents like they do in the book. The guy tells her there's nothing he can do, but she's going to be okay because she's going to Jamaica (cue Beach Boys song here) and not some godforsaken place like Syria or Afghanistan. She is not happy by this and tells him she's sick of people telling her it's going to be okay, so that is what her parents must keep telling her. He gives her the number of an immigration lawyer, Jeremy Martinez, who does pro bono work and if there's anyone who can help her, it would be him. She calls the number and his secretary tells her he's extremely busy today. After begging, the secretary tells her she can have fifteen minutes with him at noon, during his lunch break, and Natasha is satisfied with that. Throughout the movie we will see her keeping in touch with her parents via texts and phone calls. They want her home so she can start packing, but it will be awhile before she actually goes home.

Then we are introduced to our main character, Daniel (played by Charles Melton; he plays Reggie on Riverdale, a show I have never seen. I figured since I've seen The Vampire Diaries, I'm good and I don't need to see this show. I don't know why I'm comparing those shows together; I just feel like they're probably pretty similar....there's probably vampires and witches in Riverdale, right?? IDK! I do know the Reggie character because I know the theme song to the animated show: "Archie's here, Betty's here, Veronica too; Reggie's here...") Anyhoo...Daniel is a seventeen-year-old Korean-American who has an interview with Dartmouth College later on that day, except it's not really affiliated with the college, so it's kind of confusing, but I'll come back to that when we get there. His parents, who came to New York from South Korea, think it's very important that he become a doctor and that he do well at his interview. He has an older brother, Charlie, who's a bit of a douche and a bully. While they try to give him somewhat of an important role, he is much more fleshed out in the book. I had to laugh when he pronounces Dartmouth as "Dart Mouth." It reminded me of that episode of Boy Meets World where Eric pronounces Yale as "Yah-lay" (and poor Mr. Feeny is just giving him an exasperated look!). Of course, Charlie was just being facetious while dumb-ass Eric legitimately thought that was how Yale was pronounced!

Daniel's appointment isn't until later, so he's just going to chill with his friend for now. I don't know. They're on the subway, which Natasha is also on, listening to her headphones, but at the moment neither of them are aware of the other. The subway suddenly stops and the motorman comes over the intercom to calm everyone and tell them a story. He tells them he usually takes his daughter to school every morning and one day he was late because he was talking to his friend and they missed the train. While he's saying this part, everyone looks pretty irritated or impatient as they look at the time on their phones and just want the train to get fixed and be on their way. You know, typical New Yorkers. One guy says, "Shut up, a**hole" which makes Daniel and his friend crack up. But when the motorman reveals the day they were late happened to be 9/11 (THE 9/11), everyone looks super solemn and/or guilty for having the reactions they did. The guy who called him an a**hole looks super guilty; Daniel and his friend immediately wipe the smirks off their face. And of course it is revealed that the guy's friend worked at the World Trade Center and because he missed the subway, he missed work, and thus he survived a day he otherwise probably would have died. There's a moral to his story as he tells them, "Don't panic because of you being late. You never know why you were meant to be here at this time." Now if the train being late had caused Daniel to meet Natasha because perhaps she was on a different train and now they ran into each other because of it, that would make sense, but they're both on the same train and they don't even meet at this moment, but whatever, I'm just being finicky. The motorman ends with what sounds like a fortune you would find in a fortune cookie: "Always remember to open up your heart to destiny." It's probably not more than five minutes later when Daniel will repeat this line to his friend who doesn't even remember what he's talking about and therefore Daniel has to remind him (and the audience, I'm sure) it's the last thing the motorman said.

So what happens is that Daniel and his friend (can you tell I don't remember his friend's name? It's probably because after this scene we will never see, hear, or speak of him again!) are on the upper level of Grand Central Station people-watching the patrons below them. This is when Daniel notices Natasha who is looking up. She's not looking at them, but I guess there are images of the constellations at GCS that she was staring at. He notices her and thinks she's very pretty and likes that she took the time to look up, because most people don't look up. (Well, duh, why would they?) When she turns around, he notices the back of her jacket says "Deus ex Machina", the exact same phrase he had written down in his journal that very morning. Dun, dun, dun! This is when he repeats the "Always remember to open up your heart to destiny" line. He thinks this is a sign and has to meet this girl. They go downstairs, but since this is Grand Central Station, it's super crowded and she has seemed to vanish into thin air. Rejected, he gets on the subway after parting ways with his friend and who does he see on the next car? Yep, Natasha. Now I don't know if he was originally going to get off at the same stop that she does, but something tells me no because he is running fast after her to make sure he doesn't lose her in the crowd. I do find it a little problematic that at this point he's basically following her. He will notice that she's about to cross a street and get run over by a car that's going crazy fast and because she's lost in thought listening to her headphones (probably listening to Nirvana because in the book she's a Kurt Cobain fan), she's not paying attention and he runs and pulls her back to safety. So basically she has no idea that he was actually following her. The car scene does happen in the book, but I don't think he was following her, but maybe I just don't remember. This whole thing is about chance meetings and fate and destiny (think of this as Serendipity for teens), so wouldn't it have been better if they both got off at the stop and he never saw her on the subway? Honestly, this just makes him look like a total creeper. And that's not good.

After he pulls her back on the sidewalk, she takes off her headphones and says the super cliched line, "You saved my life. Thank you." They introduce each other then sit down to talk in a nearby park because I guess you're required to sit and talk with your life saver? IDK! For their first conversation, the topic is pretty heavy: love. Natasha asks him what he has in his notebook and he tells her he writes poems, mostly about love. So...a) what modern teenager carries around a notebook? None, I'm sure, and b) What modern teenager wants to be a poet? Now this will make sense in the course of the movie and will come full circle, but I don't buy that "I want to be a poet" crap. Because nobody wants to be a poet. Like, for an actual career. Maybe for a hobby sure, but this dude wants to make a career out of it. Give me a break. Daniel quickly learns that Natasha might not be as romantic as he hoped. She tells him that she doesn't believe in love, saying, "If you can't use a scientific method on it, then it's not real." When he questions her, she tells him what people are feeling when they feel love are hormones and says, "We just call it "love" so that we have something grand to live for. Otherwise, life seems really mundane and a random series of events that you have no control over until you die." Cue the violin opening to "Bitter Sweet Symphony". This is when he gets up, tells her it was nice meeting her, and goes on his merry way. No, that doesn't happen, but it would be pretty amusing (and a short movie!) if it did. No, instead Daniel is up to the challenge and tells her he can get her to fall in love with him if she gives him one day. If I were Natasha, I would have laughed in his face, but instead she tells him she doesn't have a day. When he asks her if she has an hour (an hour! Good Lord, not even Romeo and Juliet fell in love within an hour!) she decides to humor him.

They go to a small eatery called Caffe Reggio where they have lunch. Natasha's mom calls to tell her she wants her home to start packing and she tells her she will come home after her appointment at noon. Daniel gets a call from his interview asking him if they can reschedule it for tomorrow morning and he is happy to oblige so he can spend time with Natasha. While they eat lunch, Daniel tells Natasha about a study where researchers put a bunch of couples in a lab and had them ask each other thirty-six intimate questions. Natasha's reply is, "Sounds ridiculous." Really? Is it really that ridiculous? What is so ridiculous about it? This girl would irritate me in real life, I think. He asks her a few random ones, starting with "Where are the five key ingredients to falling in love?" The nerdy girl has a very nerdy answer: "Mutual self-interest and socioeconomic compatibility." Apparently she doesn't know how to count because she doesn't give three more. But, yikes! Those aren't terrible things, but they seem pretty pedestrian. Daniel's answers are a little better. Well, most of them, anyway: "Friendship and chemistry, some sort of moral compass, common interests, and the X factor." When Natasha asks what the X factor is (yes I'd like to know that, too), Daniel replies with, "Don't worry. We've got it." My eyes rolled at that. Such lazy writing. They've known each other less than a hour and he's claiming they have "The X factor?"

They talk about their futures and what they want to do. Natasha tells Daniel that she wants to be a data scientist (such a nerd!), someone who "takes large amounts of data and strategizes on how to apply it practically." Daniel tells her about the interview he has with Dartmouth and how his parents want him to be a doctor and how important it it to them he become one. But he would rather be a poet and his parents don't approve of that. 

Natasha's appointment is soon and they walk to it together. Daniel recognizes it is as the same place his interview will take place tomorrow (but was originally scheduled for the same time as her appointment) and tells her, "You have to admit this proves my point: fate is real." Natasha says it was just a coincidence. When she goes in for her appointment, Mr. Martinez's secretary tells her that he was hit by a car when he was biking to work (the very same car that almost hit Natasha, in fact, Daniel sees him clip a guy on a bike first, then realizes he's about to hit Natasha) and won't be in until 4:30 since he's at the hospital. Daniel is waiting for her in the lobby and is thrilled when he realizes they have four more hours to spend together, but Natasha tells him she has to go home because her parents are expecting her. When she tells him it takes about an hour to get home and another hour to return, he points out that doesn't make sense to be wasting all that time and she agrees with him, so she calls her parents to let them know she won't be coming home until later.

Daniel needs to drop off something for his father at his parents' store which sells black hair care products. Natasha is incredulous that his parents own a black hair care store, but he explains to her that it's really not that uncommon for Koreans. She doesn't get the best first impression from his family, unfortunately. She and Daniel share a moment where they're about to kiss right in the middle of an aisle, but Charlie, his douchey brother, interrupts them and accuses Natasha of being a shoplifter. When Daniel introduces Natasha to his dad, Mr. Bae offers her a relaxer for her hair so it won't be so big and she tells him she likes her hair. I mean, I think the girl wouldn't have it that way if she didn't like it! Of course Daniel is just cringing during this whole exchange. Unwoke parents can be the worst!

To kill the rest of the time, they go to a planetarium (Natasha's idea, of course) and hold hands as they look up at the screen. This is when they start to become touchy-feel-y and when they're on the subway, she has her head on his shoulder and she's playing with his hair. They have a conversation about poetry and Natasha complains that whenever she reads a poem it's usually about one of three things: love, sex, or the stars. This is when we get our film's title (well, sort of) when she says, "Why not more poems about the sun? The sun's also a star." Yep. She used a contraction. The title is The Sun IS Also a Star; not The Sun's Also a Star. I mean, really, you think they would have the actress say the actual title right! Also, I'm pretty sure if you looked hard enough, there are plenty of poems about the sun out there. If I really cared, I would try to find a few, but I don't really care that much to look for poetry.

They next go to Korean karaoke which is called Noraebang and is a bit different from the karaoke most people are used to as they have their own private room. I'm pretty sure this is a challenge they've done on The Amazing Race when they've been in Seoul. I remember contestants having to memorize a song in Korean, then having to perform it. I get having a private room if you're a small group, but with two people? That's just super weird. I do remember this scene in the book when Daniel sings Abba's "Take a Chance On Me", a super corny song choice and a bit on the nose. They must have thought the same thing when they were making the movie because he sings "Crimson and Clover" instead. As he's singing the song, we see flash forwards of Natasha imagining what their life could be like if she is able to stay in New York. We see them dating, getting married, having children, the whole she-bang. I would be super embarrassed if some guy I just met that day was singing to me in this intense way, but she is eating it up. In fact, when he's done singing, they just go at it and start making out. Now it makes sense why they need a private venue! She freaks out when her phone beeps, alerting her that her appointment is in half an hour and she is brought back down to reality and runs out. Daniel runs after her, asking her what's wrong. She drops the big bomb, telling him she will probably never see him again because she wasn't born in this country and her family is being deported tomorrow.

They part ways and Natasha goes to her immigration appointment with Jeremy Martinez who is played by John Leguizamo, easily the biggest name in the movie. He gives her a glimmer of hope when he tells her he had a chance to review her file and he's going to see the judge who issued the removal order. He knows that judge and think he might be able to file a motion to reopen the case so she won't have to leave tomorrow. He's playing it close with time because he won't have an answer from the judge until the next morning and wants to meet her again at ten. If everything works out, he will ask for a new trial and submit a petition for permanent resident status for her and her family.

With a new burst of hope in her, Natasha wants to reconnect with Daniel, but doesn't have his number, so she goes back to his parents' store where Charlie is at the cash register. She asks him for his brother's number and while he gives her a bit of crap, he easily gives it to her. So she calls Daniel and apologizes and they meet up again. They hang out some more and talk some more and kiss some more. They end up going to Roosevelt Island where they end up spending the night in a park which doesn't seem like a very safe thing to do. Also, I'm surprised nobody noticed they were roughing it outside.

They wake up  the next morning a little after seven and they need to hurry because Daniel's interview is at eight. This dude spent the night outside, is wearing the same outfit he wore yesterday, and hasn't taken a shower in god knows how long. You know he reeks. And he's going to an important interview that will determine his future. So get turns out his interview is with Jeremy Martinez. Why is an immigration lawyer giving an interview with a kid who wants to attend Dartmouth? Why is the interview being held at this place? I really have no idea. I mean, it will be for the sake of the story because Natasha will barge in later, wanting to know if her family can stay and they (Daniel and Natasha) will just stare at each other and take it as another sign that they're meant to be together. But yeah, it makes no sense the same guy who is giving Natasha legal advice is also a Dartmouth rep. Unfortunately he tells Natasha that her family is unable to stay and of course this makes her upset. She puts the blame on Daniel telling him, "You promised this wasn't going to happen." Yeah, he did say that to her. Pretty stupid thing to say.

It's only now that Natasha realizes that she should probably call her parents to tell therm she's okay and on her way home. She hasn't been in touch with them since yesterday; maybe right before they went to Roosevelt Island, I can't exactly remember the last time we saw her contact them. She must have turned off her phone because surely her parents have been trying to get in touch with her. She brings Daniel with her and naturally her parents are upset with her. Daniel tries to intervene and tell them it's his fault, but her dad shuts it down. Yeah, I'd be pretty annoyed if my kid was out all night when they were supposed to be home packing and then have the gall to bring some random kid home with them and call them their "guest".

Earlier in the movie when Daniel was telling Natasha about the experiment scientists did with couples that she called "ridiculous", after they had asked and answered their questions, they were supposed to stare into each other's eyes for four minutes so that's what they do outside the airport. (Guess Natasha's parents were cool that he tagged along!) If I saw two people outside an airport holding hands and staring into each other's eyes without saying anything, I would probably roll my own eyes. Thankfully we don't have to see the full four minutes. Instead we see flash forwards of what their lives actually turn out to be: Natasha looks to be an astronomy teacher (I thought she wanted to be a data scientist?) and Daniel is a poet. At the end of the four minutes she tells Daniel that she loves him and he tells her that the experiment worked. Well, it did and it didn't.

The movie fast forwards five years later and we see Natasha back at Caffe Reggio listening to live music. She is meeting Mr. Martinez there and we learn her student visa came through for her to attend grad school at Berekely where she will be flying out the next day. She asks Martinez if she remembers Daniel Bae and if he knows any way of contacting him because she can't find him online and it's almost like he vanished. Okay. Hold the phone. In what world, in this century, in this year, would a twenty-something not have some form of social media? It would be odd for a thirty, forty, of even fifty something not to have some kind of social media or email address. I call total BS on this. I can't remember exactly how this happened in the book, because they do lose touch with each other after Natasha goes to Jamaica. If the two young girls from Beaches in the late '50s can keep a correspondence with each other, then there's no excuse two teens from the twenty-teens can't stay in touch with each other!

Well, wouldn't you know, when Natasha is about to leave, we see Daniel, who works at the cafe, take off his apron (I guess he was on his break when Natasha ordered?) and tell the audience he's going to read a poem about the sun. The very first poem ever written about the sun, apparently! Natasha turns around and they see each other and smile at each other, then kiss, which is super weird. If I haven't seen somebody in five years who I only spent one day with, I certainly wouldn't just start making out with them. I guess neither of them are in relationships at that moment. Natasha tells him she only has one day and he replies he only needs one day. We never hear his poem about the sun. In the book, ten year passes and they're both on the same airplane and there's no reunion kiss.

If you've read the book, you might enjoy the movie, but just know the book is much better. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

J-Lo vs J-Fo

Director: Robert Luketic
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Jane Fonda, Michael Vartan, Wanda Sykes, Elaine Stritch
Released: May 13, 2005
Viewed in theaters: May 17, 2005

This is not a very good movie that was lucky enough to get two big stars in J-Lo and Jane Fonda. (J. Fo?) I was surprised when I read that this was Jane Fonda's first movie in 15 years - the last movie she did prior to this was in 1990.

The movie wastes no time getting Charlie (J-Lo (wait, is it J-Lo or J. Lo? Now I'm second guessing myself...)) together with Kevin (Michael Vartan) because they want to quickly introduce us to Kevin's mother, Viola (Jane Fonda) who will soon make Charlie's life a living hell. When we are introduced to Charlie, we learn that she lives with her gay roommate and friend, Remy (Adam Scott, who along with J-Lo's other friend, has nothing to do) and she has a lot of jobs as she works at a temp agency. Her many jobs (from the past and present) include: a dog walker (like you couldn't get a teenager to do that? That's an actual job that temps get?), a receptionist at a doctor's office, a yoga instructor, a caterer, a waitress for parties that her friend caters, and a Little League coach which just seems out of left field, no pun intended. She must be a terrible dog walker because we see her pick up two dobermans from a rich lady and the next scene later she's walking five dogs on the beach...and there are no dobermans in sight! Where did they go? She takes a break on the beach to read her horoscope and it says she's going to find love today. I don't even remember if her sign is mentioned, but I really don't think that matters. At that moment, an attractive shirtless man runs across the beach and catches her eye. The next day, Charlie will be at a coffee shop (ordering coffee; I'm surprised she doesn't work there!) and she will run into the same man on her way out. He says hello to her, but she just gets flustered and runs out after replying hello to him. Then she will see him the next night when she's helping her friend at a party she's catering. Of course, he is Kevin, the man with the overbearing mother that she will eventually start dating. They try to throw a wrench in their relationship by having another woman, Fiona, try to come between them which seems redundant because don't we already have that with Kevin's mother? I guess Fiona works with Kevin (who's a surgeon) which explains why she was at the party and they once dated, but while Fiona is still into him, Kevin doesn't have any feelings for her. She ends up telling Charlie not to get too attached to Kevin because he's gay and says he's getting married in December to another doctor (played by Will Arnett). Charlie sees them sitting together, talking and laughing, so she automatically assumes it must be true, despite the fact that Kevin was smiling and flirting with her all night. Oh, and he also asked for her number so he calls her, but Charlie doesn't answer. He catches her on the beach and she tells him, "I don't know why you called me. I'm a woman." This baffles him, then he realizes she thinks he is gay, and tells her he isn't. He asks her out on a date and after giving her a poetic answer about what color her eyes are, she is smitten. Their relationship will be smooth sailing from here on out aside from Kevin's mother and the random woman, Fiona.

We are introduced to Viola Fields the same day she will be losing her job and she doesn't take it so well. She is a daytime talk show host, akin to Oprah, who has interviewed some pretty prominent people (and has met Oprah!) and has won five Emmys. She is being replaced by someone younger because the show is trying to appeal to a younger demographic. Unfortunately, for Viola, her last guest will be a 17-year-old pop star singer who is obviously supposed to be Britney Spears-esque. After singing a terrible, manufactured song, Viola interviews her and the young woman tells her she likes watching "old" movies and rattles off Grease, Benji, The Little Mermaid, Free Willy, and Legally Blonde as examples. As she is going through her list, Viola looks livid. Okay, let's talk this through. This movie takes place in "present day" 2005, which means the pop star (I'm sure they said what her name is, but I don't remember, or more accurately, don't care enough to remember) was born in 1988. Grease and Benji came out in the '70s, so it makes sense she would consider them old. The Little Mermaid ('89) and Free Willy ('93), both came out after she was born, so if she thinks those movies are old, then does she think she is old at 17? But I understand that's part of the joke. The kicker for me is that she considers Legally Blonde an "old" movie. Remember, this is 2005. That means Legally Blonde is only four years old in this timeline! I understood the joke after I looked up the director of this movie, Robert Luketic. He also directed Legally Blonde (a MUCH better movie than this), so I guess that was just a little inside joke.

Viola ends up physically attacking the girl because she says something asinine and they're trying to go to commercial break during this physical altercation, but it's too late and everybody who is watching has already seen what has happened (I guess this must be a live show!) After taking a four month hiatus from life in general, she finds out that her son has been dating someone for that entire time, but doesn't think it's serious. It's a little intimidating for Charlie because she knows how close Kevin is to his mother (she calls him like four times a day which is a bit extreme!) and she lives in this huge mansion. Kevin is also a little nervous about his two favorite women meeting, but they get along just grandly, laughing and chatting as they're having tea and cake in the garden. Kevin is so thrilled that he proposes to Charlie right there...while his mother is sitting next to her. Not the most romantic move, there. Then we see Viola hugging Charlie, then slamming her face in the cake, but it was just her imagining that happening. (The slamming her face in the cake part, she did actually hug her, although how genuine it was, that remains to be seen!)

While this is going on, Viola's (very loyal and very patient) assistant, Ruby (Wanda Skyes) is observing the whole thing from a distance and is muttering under her breath for Charlie to say no because she knows Viola is not taking this news very well. But, of course, Charlie says yes. Earlier, Ruby had told Viola, who is a bit of a lush, that she had locked up all the alcohol and liquor after she returned from her four-moth hiatus, so Viola is rummaging through the bathroom medicine cabinet and finds mouth wash that has 14% alcohol and that's good enough for her. She comes to the conclusion that Charlie must be pregnant and that's why Kevin wants to marry her. When she brings this up, they tell her that Charlie is not pregnant. This still baffles Viola and she tells them, "Call me old-fashioned, marriage is a sacred union that should only be entered into with the utmost care." Charlie gets a stab back at her, asking her, "Weren't you married four times?" To which Viola replies, "Yes, which would make me an expert don't you think?" We know that her first husband is Kevin's dad, her second marriage was to a TV exec who got her her first on-air job, and her third marriage was to an actor who turned out to be gay and had an affair with her second husband. There's a bit of an on-going joke that she seems to be attracted to gay men. I don't remember any information about her fourth husband. Viola just can't get it through her head that her son, a "brilliant surgeon" is going to marry a "temp". She figures that Charlie is a gold digger and she's going to make it her "project" to create a wedge between her son and his fiancee.

Viola's first order of business it to embarrass her daughter-in-law to be at a engagement party she's hosting at her house. Both Kevin and Charlie show up wearing casual clothes (Charlie is wearing a white linen dress so it's not like she's super casual) because they were under the assumption Viola was throwing a BBQ with close family friends. Has Kevin ever met his mother? She doesn't seem like the type of woman who would have a BBQ or even know how to barbecue! Instead, it turns out to be a fancy black tie party where Viola has invited many dignitaries. She does this to embarrass Charlie because she immediately starts introducing her to a prince, the man who introduced the Euro to the global market, the poet laureate, and the Secretary of Commerce and after introducing each of them to Charlie, she tells them that Charlie is a "temp".

She tells Kevin and Charlie that she has more appropriate attire for them in the house. I was thinking the dress she had picked out for Charlie would be hideous, but it was this beautiful vintage dress that Charlie was excited to wear. The only hitch was that it was too small and she could barely get it over her hips. Viola invites Fiona to flirt with Kevin and she comes onto him and of course Charlie sees them kissing and huffs away. I was surprised when Fiona tells her that she was just giving him a "congratulatory kiss." Kevin is able to placate her and they go home and everything is okay with them once again, because, let's face it, Fiona isn't a problem. I really don't know why she's needed in this movie.

Viola has Ruby looking up anything she can find on Charlie, but she comes with nothing. Charlie has no criminal record, no debt, got decent grades in school, went to design school, and has had a string of odd jobs. When Viola asks her about drugs or promiscuity, Ruby replies, "She's had fewer lovers in her lifetime than you did at closing day of Woodstock." I don't know how she found out about all of her past boyfriends, but this line did make me laugh. And wow, Viola must have been a ho back in her day...yikes!

It becomes Viola's mission to not only drive Charlie crazy, but also drive her away from her son as well. As she tells Ruby, "Every woman knows when you marry a man, you also marry his mother." I feel like she has very outdated (even for 2005!) views on marriage. She invites Charlie out to lunch (by the way, J-Lo has some very enviable outfits in this movie, this one included) where she just pretty much starts planning their wedding with doves and horse-drawn carriages and other things Charlie isn't into. She also presents her with a frilly pink wedding planner book. Charlie puts her foot down and firmly tells her thanks, but no thanks, that they don't want any of her input. This causes Viola to faint on the outside patio where they're eating lunch, causing a scene. A woman nearby asks if she's dead and Charlie tells her no, then under her breath, she mutters, "It can't be that easy." Okay. That was funny. This movie isn't that great, but there were a few funny moments, this one included. It turns out that Viola had an anxiety attack and Kevin tells Charlie that his mother told him that Charlie was yelling at her about not being able to plan the wedding, which Charlie admits to.

The doctor tells Viola she needs no stress, so Kevin and Charlie agree (well, Charlie reluctantly agrees!) that Viola should live with them until she feels better. Oh, I should probably mention that Charlie has moved in with Kevin, but that makes sense since they're engaged. I'm not really sure why living with her son and her son's fiancee would give her less stress when she has that nice mansion she can lounge around in, but whatever. This is all part of Viola's evil plan.

Kevin has to go out of town the first few days after Viola moves in, so it's just Charlie and her future mother-in-law. Like that's not awkward at all! The first night, Viola keeps Charlie up all night because she's crying. She forgot to take her pills and asks Charlie to get them for her, then when Charlie returns with them, she needs water, then she needs ice in her water, and so on. Even after all that, she tells Charlie she doesn't want to be alone and wants Charlie to spend the night with her. I definitely would have put my foot down at that! But Charlie obliges and pretty much gets beat up because Viola is thrashing all over the place while she's sleeping and hits her in the face a few times. A little extreme on Viola's part.

The next day, Viola tells Charlie she called her lawyer to update her will because she wanted to include her and has some questions she needs to ask which include are there any hereditary illness in her family and is she an illegal alien? (I mean, she seems pretty American to me!) Charlie gets suspicious when Viola asks her how many men has she been sexually active with and Charlie wants to know why would they want to know that and Viola winks at her and says "That many, huh?"  She also asks Charlie if she would be willing to sign a prenuptial agreement. When Charlie questions that, Viola pretends to be outraged and says, "I know, they're such nosy bastards! It's none of the business! Okay, this scene was pretty funny, thanks to Jane Fonda's reactions to J-Lo's incredulousness. Much like the scene where we see Viola imaging herself smashing Charlie's head into a cake, Charlie has a fantasy of slapping Viola across the face with a pan and knocking her off the stool she's sitting on. 

When Charlie invites her two friends over (when Viola is gone), Remy tells her he found out Viola has been investigating Charlie. I did like the line when he said "I was upstairs in her room, minding my own business..." Charlie discovers she has her high school transcripts and super up close photos of her taken at the beach and wonders when they were even taken. She also discovers that the anti anxiety pills Viola's been taking are actually chewable vitamin Cs. The hilarious part is that she had to get that confirmed by one of the doctors at the office where she works at a part time receptionist. I feel like if you saw a chewable ("chewable" being the operative word), you would be able to tell that's what it was). 

Charlie gets her worst revenge on Viola when she brings home a bunch of dogs she's been walking. One of the dobermans we saw her walking earlier in the movie growls at Viola when she comes home and she calls to Charlie to help her. When Charlie comes out, she's been in the kitchen cooking what looks to be spaghetti sauce. She still has the spoon in her hand and when she tells the dog to back down, she flings the spoon and end up flinging sauce on Viola's white pantsuit. Charlie apologizes and asks if it was expensive and Viola replies, "It was." She then goes up to her room and that's when the audience, along with Viola, discover a pack of dogs in her room, including the other doberman. There are dogs on her bed, dogs on the carpet, dogs ripping up pillows, dogs ripping up bedsheets, dogs just ruining everything in sight. Yeah, I would be pretty ticked off too! Although, if you think about it, this is Kevin's house, so why is Charlie letting the dogs ruin the carpet, bed, and other furniture in the room if all this stuff is his? We never do see his reaction to this. How convenient.

The night before the wedding, there's a small wedding party gathering and Viola ends up putting nuts in the gravy because Charlie is allergic. The two of them keep going back and forth with their antics, it's hard to remember the score. Ruby tells her not to do that and Viola decides that's even a bit too extreme for her. But while they are chatting, another guest brings out the gravy boat that has the nuts (which are pretty big so you think everyone would notice that there are nuts in the gravy!) and Charlie ends up having some and her face swells up and she has these humongous lips. Lucky for her, on the day of the wedding, she wakes up to her perfectly beautiful face again. 

Charlie has asked Viola to be her Maid of Honor (I don't care if you even get along great with your mother-in-law; that's a weird person to ask to be your MoH!) It seems she's only doing it to embarrass her because she has this hideous peach colored (Viola's favorite color) dress for her to wear. It is the day of the wedding and these two are still going at it. There was a scene a few days earlier where they are both eating lunch and Viola makes a snide remark at Charlie, saying, "Just so you know, Kevin likes his girls thin" after Charlie tells her she wants the dress to fit her and not the other way around. Yes, Charlie is curvy, but sheesh, she's not fat. 

Charlie's friend (the one who isn't Adam Scott, the female friend...she really has nothing to do and I literally cannot remember her name or care to remember) tells her she spoke to the priest and confirmed with him that he's going to skip over the part where he says, "If anyone objects, speak now or forever hold your peace." You know, I've been to a handful of weddings in my life and I don't think I've ever heard that during a wedding ceremony. It could be I just don't remember because nobody said anything when it was said, but I'm pretty sure it's mostly used for movies and TV shows for the drama.

Viola shows up to the wedding wearing a white dress and that just about sends Charlie over the edge. When Kevin's paternal grandmother, Gertrude (Elaine Stritch) shows up, we find out that she and Viola have a relationship not unlike Viola and Charlie where they're always going back and forth and sniping at each other. I had to laugh when Gertrude exclaims, "My grandson is marrying an exotic Latina!", because, again, she seems very American and non-exotic to me.

It doesn't take long for the two older women to start squabbling and Gertrude accuses Viola of killing her son. As she tells her, "All the doctors agree - my son died of terminal disappointment!" Her first husband must have died pretty young if she was able to get married three more times, or either those marriages didn't last very long. Viola snaps back that Gertrude killed her son because she smothered him to death and that nobody was ever good enough for him. Obviously these two women have a lot in common. After Gertrude leaves the room, Charlie tells Viola that she realizes in thirty years, they will be doing the exact same thing and while she wants to marry Kevin because they make each other happy, but because Viola's not going to let that happen (her plan is to move to the same neighborhood as Kevin and Charlie), she decides to call the wedding off.

When she goes to find Kevin, I checked to see how much time was left. There was ten minutes remaining so I knew this had to be wrapped up soon. And it was. Before Charlie can say anything to Kevin, Viola stops her, telling her she needs to talk to her. She apologizes to Charlie and tells her she wants her to get married to her son because he makes her happy and she promises she'll butt out of their lives, but Charlie tells her she wants her to be involved with her grandchildren when she and Kevin start having kids. Yay, everyone loves each other, yay.