Maid in Manhattan
The title of Maid in Manhattan could have easily been replaced with Pretty Woman. It the usual tale of class and manners which does look surprisingly dated here. Diving straight into the plot; Jennifer Lopez plays Marisa Ventura, a divorced mother who is forced to raise her son Ty (Tyler Posey) on her salary as a cleaning maid in a glamorous Manhattan hotel, The Beresford.
In the hotel the guest include strange characters such as the elderly kleptomaniac French sisters, spoilt British socialite Caroline (Natasha Richardson) who is spending time sulking over her recent break-up and senatorial candidate Christopher Marshall (Ralph Fiennes).
One day Ty manages to bump into Chris and his rigid campaign manager Jerry (Stanley Tucci) in a lift as they are about to walk Chris’s dog. Impressed by the youngster knowledge of politic and specifically Richard Nixon, Chris invites the lad to go with them on their walk. Ty returns to the suite that Marisa is cleaning to ask permission to leave the hotel. Marisa, unknowing that soon her son and a handsome stranger are about to burst in, is currently in the process of trying on Caroline’s Dolce & Gabanna outfit. Seeing her in the outfit, Chris believes that she is the resident of the suite and invites her to join them as well.
With Chris believing that she is a wealthy socialite and with a promotion heading her way, Marisa doesn’t want to be found out and carries on the subterfuge. Can she avoid getting fired for her actions and more importantly how can she tell Chris who she really is? Chris, on the other hand, must avoid the paparazzi who are snooping around his new romance, whilst fending off the advances of Caroline whom mistakenly believes that the senatorial candidate is really after her.
Maid in Manhattan is dull and lacks the two important aspects of a romantic comedy – Romance and Comedy. It is entirely possible for a completely formulaic film to entertain and be enjoyable but without anything new or fresh this is not it. It has an air of an expensive sit-com about it. Director Wayne Wong has tried to add a couple of subplots to keep the interest levels up but just succeeds putting them across in a manner where the audience just doesn’t care about them
Jennifer Lopez is still trying to corner the market in romantic leading ladies and her performance in this will not help her achieve it. She is not 100% believable and tends to slink into her diva persona at times – especially when her friends are getting her ready to go to a charity benefit (by the way why would all those expensive shops lend a maid hugely expensive dresses and Harry Winston diamonds?). Also her character verbally attacks her best friend when her friend submitted an application on her behalf for the promotion – a little too Diva-like. Ralph Fiennes, who is normally very compelling to watch, seems to be bored by the proceedings. Why his character wants to run for senate when he seems uninterested in it is perplexing, as is his interest in Marisa. There is almost no chemistry between the two leads which does the film no favours at all.
The supporting cast which includes Bob Hoskins as the hotel head butler are uninspiring and his attempt at instilling some class into the affair has little impact. Normally the supporting cast are there to add the humour and laughs while the leads fall in love, but here they fail. Only Stanley Tucci raised the odd smile as the uptight advisor to Chris.
As mentioned before the similarities between Maid in Manhattan and Pretty Woman are more than evident – the sage mentor ‘father figure’ in the hotel, the meddling advisor to the rich guy, the poor girl/snooty sales woman scene, the fast-talking Italian best friend and so on. In all honesty you’d spend your time better off watching Pretty Woman.
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