Maid In Manhattan (2002)
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Review Date: December 05, 2002
Director: Wayne Wang
Writer: Kevin Wade
Producers: Paul Schiff, Deborah Schindler
Jennifer Lopez as Marisa Ventura
Ralph Fiennes as Christopher Marshall
Stanley Tucci as Jerry Siegel
A single mom with a precocious son finds herself in hot water when she gets involved with a rich client, who believes her to be a wealthy socialite, instead of the hard-working, hip-talking, big-assed sweetie-pie maid that she really is. This leads to silly misunderstandings, romantic interludes and the entire plotline to PRETTY WOMAN.
As obvious as its title, this film isn't going to surprise anyone with its rehashed premise, its "twists and turns" and its eventual outcome. If you want predictability , MAID IN MANHATTAN is the place to hang your hat. If you want entertainment, on the other hand, well...there's a bit of that in here as well, along with a couple of memorable secondary characters which thankfully save us the displeasure of sitting through yet another entirely vapid Hollywood-ian romantic comedy. As for the film's almost identical connection to 1990's PRETTY WOMAN, it's actually pretty scary, to the point that lawyers could be called in to pursue the matter. Literally every single point is "taken" from the former flick, right down to the "father figure" at the hotel who helps our little missus along the way, the meddling rich guy's side-kick who wants to mess shit up, the obligatory scene of poor ol' Jenny From The Block telling off a snooty saleslady and even the Italian, fast-talking best friend who wants to see her "make it" because it will make her feel better about her own lowly existence. Check, check, check and check! And let's not forget the fact that both ladies have to get on their knees to perform their professional duties in each film (okay, I'm "reaching" with that one) Many other similarities also exist, but I'll let someone else draw up those papers.

This movie did actually surprise me during its first half though. Surprising, in that, I was actually enjoying it somewhat. Like I said before, the film is basically as obvious as my lame jokes, but I'm a fan of Jennifer Lopez (not J-Lo!) and liked her in this role. She's sweet, loveable, a good mom and sports a great, big, beautiful ass! I also enjoyed Fiennes as the romantic lead. Who knew that Amon Goeth had it in him, eh? He's good-looking, he's charming and also quite dapper (I love that word-still not entirely sure what it means though). But what really "made" the flick for me were two hilarious secondary characters. One was Natasha Richardson as the over-the-top rich beeyatch, whose funny one-dimensional turn actually managed to crack a few smiles into my stoic face ("...but you didn't hear it from me."), but the man who ultimately stole the show was an actor who I've loved in various movies over the past few years, a man who has gone unrecognized (in terms of awards, at least) for much too long...Stanley Tucci! I love this guy in this movie! He's quick, he's evil, he's cute, he's funny...he's the perfect goofball. Build a film around this guy and you've got yourself a winner.

As for the story itself, once the halfway point is reached, and the typical cutesy moments pass us by, all that's left are montage sequences, musical interludes, quirky third-tier actors dancing to pop tunes, bad dialogue, obvious misunderstandings and revelations, as well as yet another stereotypical "ethnic" mom scene, in which she guilts her daughter into believing that she is the smallest piece of shit in the world (are there any "old school" families out there who actually believe in their kids...anywhere in Hollywood?). The film also includes one of the stupidest "movie scenes" of all-time, in which a friend surreptitiously helps Lopez get closer to her dream of becoming a hotel manager, but Lopez, inexplicably, rails into her for "helping her out"? Huh?? Since when do you tell a friend off for fuckin' helping you?? Not in "real life", that's fer sure. Oops, but I forgot, this is a movie...a badly written one, but a movie nonetheless. Anyway, nothing really new to see here folks, and no shots of Lopez in undies or braskies either, so leave the trenchcoats at home. Basically, just take a dash of CINDERELLA, add various safe, predictable, cute scenes, a couple of funny characters, plenty of PRETTY WOMAN make-up, J-Lo spelled out properly, a tub of schmaltzy goo, Lopez's smile, Fiennes' ass (or the other way around) and collect the big bucks on the other side.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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