Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: None currently stated
THE Jennifer Lopez self-delusion story continues unabated in
Maid In Manhattan, a New York-based fairytale that feels spectacularly
misjudged from the start.
First off, we have 'Jenny from the Block' once again harking
on about her roots, delivering speech after tireless speech about
life in the projects and what it means to live there. Such misplaced
sentiment might not seem so hypocritical if she avoided the diva
indulgences that have become something of a hallmark.
And then we have the object of her affections, Ralph Fiennes,
a dashing British actor hopelessly miscast in a film which sets
out to repeat the winning formula of classic romances such as
Roman Holiday or Pretty Woman, only to fall flat on its face at
Lopez stars as feisty hotel maid, Marisa Ventura, a single mother
with an eye on promotion, who uses her Bronx know-how to winning
effect with her colleagues in Manhattan, until a misunderstanding
prompts her to take a stroll with Fiennes' Republican candidate,
Christopher Marshall, a VIP guest of the hotel and playboy charmer,
with whom she becomes smitten.
Only trouble is, Marshall believes Marisa to be a guest of the
hotel (not the maid) and sets about wooing her, while trying to
play down the attentions of the media and launch a winning campaign
for the US Senate. Cue all manner of cat-and-mouse games, romantic
'time-outs' and the inevitable slushy finale.
Played correctly, such mainstream romantic fare can sweep audiences
along like a Prince Charming whisking Cinderella off to the ball,
yet Maid in Manhattan possesses neither the panache nor the pairing
to seduce its viewers.
The movie certainly follows the correct formula, but feels staged
and too false to carry it off throughout, while principle among
the problems is the central pairing, with both Fiennes and Lopez
failing to generate any chemistry whatsoever, or even seeming
the slightest bit believable.
Lopez, especially, presents a tired romantic lead, one who conforms
to every cliche, in between delivering the aforementioned life
lessons to anyone who cares to listen, while Fiennes' love-struck
charmer seems content merely to play second fiddle, which is a
shame, given that he is the more interesting of the characters.
Yet the movie consistently squanders the talents of a fairly
impressive cast (including Bob Hoskins, Stanley Tucci and Six
Feet Under's Frances Conroy), and comes across as little more
than a star-vehicle for the self-obsessed Lopez.
Director, Wayne Wang (of The Joy Luck Club and The Centre of
the World fame), does a fairly good job of making New York look
good, but even his direction feels heavily-reliant on following
Hollywood convention, offering nothing new along the way to its
This is, in the final analysis, a one-star hotel of a movie masquerading
as a five-star showpiece. But don't be fooled by its service,
for this is ultimately soulless.