Maid In Manhattan (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner03/03/2003

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 105 mins

Like Pretty Woman but without the laughs. Or the chemistry.

After a string of, frankly, bloody awful movies (The Wedding Planner, Enough), it’s fair to say that Jennifer Lopez is in dire need of a decent film if she’s to fulfil the promise she showed with her roles in the likes of Out of Sight and U-Turn.

To that end, her latest film must have seemed like a sure thing – a respected director (Wayne Wang), a ‘classy’ cast (read ‘English’ - Hoskins, Fiennes, Richardson) and a sure-fire Cinderella plot, co-written by none other than 80s teen movie maestro John Hughes. So where did it all go wrong?

Unconvincing Maid Antics

La Lopez plays Marisa, a Brooklyn born Latino single mother who works in a swanky hotel with a bunch of “sassy” other maids. (You know, the ones that say things like “mmm hmmm. Thass what I’m talking about, girl!” and that sort of thing.) One day, while tidying up the room of Rich Bitch Natasha Richardson, she’s persuaded by her friend to try on a designer dress. Whereupon she meets Senator Chris Marshall (Ralph Fiennes) who, of course, assumes she’s a guest and is instantly smitten. Since she likes him too, she frantically tries to keep up the deception. But will he still love her if he finds out she’s “just a maid”? Well, like, duh.

As if listening to Lopez warbling on about still being “Jenny from the block” wasn’t bad enough, it has to be said it’s pretty hard to buy into her ‘boo hoo, poor me’ act here. She never looks less than fabulous for one thing, so the whole idea about maids being ‘invisible’ pretty much goes out the window.

Similarly, though Lopez can handle ‘cute’ and ‘sweet’, she’s not much of a comic actress and this role is crying out for a Julia Roberts or a Sandra Bullock.

No Chemistry

Fiennes doesn’t fare much better and one has to wonder why he decided to do this. He looks desperately uncomfortable throughout the whole thing, particularly towards the end. The bottom line is that the chemistry just isn’t there and it shows.

In fact, just about the only redeeming feature of the film is the supporting cast, particularly Natasha Richardson, who really makes the most of her role and gets, well, all the laughs, such as they are.

As for the rest of the cast, Stanley Tucci and Bob Hoskins are good, as always, but underused and the film completely wastes Chris (Barcelona, Malcolm in the Middle) Eigemann as Lopez’s manager.

With different leads and with a few gag writers brought in to improve the script, this might have worked. As it is, it will probably only appeal to pre-teen fans of Lopez. Still, at least it isn’t as bad as The Wedding Planner

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Content updated: 30/08/2014 19:28

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