2002
Rated: PG-13 for sexual themes, and adult content.
Genre: Romance Comedy Drama
Directed By: Wayne Wang
Running Time: 1:43
Review by: Felix Vasquez Jr.
Review Date:
DVD Features:
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Interactive Features:
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If you like this, try: Pretty Woman, My Fair Lady, Kate & Leopold, Cinderella, America's Sweethearts
MAID IN MANHATTAN

 

Marisa Ventura (Jennifer Lopez  Enough, Selena) is a workaday hotel maid who raises her young son all by herself, until one day, when trying on a hotel customer's clothes, is discovered by a handsome senator named Chris Marshall (Ralph Fiennes  Schindler's List, The English Patient) and mistaken for another woman. Now, she must hide her true identity and prevent from being fired from her job while falling in love with him.
     It's hard to resist the light-hearted nature served to the audience in this film; the story is covered in cliché plot devices, but it's all so charming that the audience will soon disregard it and want to see what happens to the characters. Jennifer Lopez gives a run of the mill performance as a workaday single mom, and sort of goes all out when it comes to looking plain, and rarely ever sports make-up in the film. She's believable when it comes to acting ordinary though tends to ham it up in the emotional scenes. She's a very likable character who much of the female audience will root for. Ralph Fiennes is very energetic and likeable in this film as the soon-to-be senator, and instantly becomes magnetic as he tends to react to the Ventura characters son Ty who is also very adorable, especially in the elevator scene where Fiennes manages to bring some true sentimentality and warmth to his role. Though, hardly emphasized on, Fiennes manages to save this character as he gives some great chemistry with Lopez throughout the film.

Like all films of this nature, it's very hard to create something truly original and unique, and as hard as it is for filmmakers to, writer Kevin Wayne tries his hardest and manages to fail on all accounts. The film is nothing new and completely predictable bringing about the usual cookie cutter romantic comedy material you'd expect from Meg Ryan or Julia Roberts. There's the single poor ethnic mother who falls in love with a rich aristocrat and there's the usual obstacles that get in their way. There's the snobby boss, the rich socialite who discovers her identity, and friends who urge her not overstep her boundaries yet seem to go all out and help her in her pursuit in Marshall's love. There's every cliché you've seen in a past movie in this, and every bit of the material is contrived. Writer Wayne even holds logic in the air to bring the usual cutesy happy story devices to the crowd as character Marisa skillfully dodges Marshall's eye throughout a twenty minute long scene that's interesting in the beginning and then just becomes ridiculous.
     Everyone in the movie is too understanding to help Marisa, including a jewelry store who lends the Lopez character a diamond necklace without charge. Aren't there security cameras, lists, and merchandising books that keep track of missing jewelry? The story is teeming in predictability and trite values that it almost seems as if we're watching a movie intended for a family channel. Every character is understanding and turns an eye at the romance with Marshall and Ventura, including a security man who watches over the hotel's security cameras and manages to hide her clothes swapping ploy, even when there happens to be four other men watching the cameras with him, and the supervisor (Bob Hoskins) for the Ventura character witnesses her obvious dodging from Marshall, yet never talks nor complains about it throughout the film. The dialogue is obvious and incredibly hokey to the point where eye rolling almost becomes a sport. There are many actors in the film who are horribly wasted, including Stanley Tucci and Bob Hoskins who barely have parts to gloat about in this, and look bored with their roles. The climax is exactly how I guessed including the dramatic final kiss, and the obligatory photo montage assuring the viewing audience that there's a happy ending. Next movie, please!

A sort of charming modern take on "My Fair Lady" that is corny, hokey, cheesy, but very engrossing that most couples will react to.