Maid in Manhattan

“Charming, but not extraordinary romantic comedy”

Jennifer Lopez headlines the movie as Marisa Ventura, a hotel maid who’s mistaken for a high class socialite by a wealthy senatorial candidate named Christopher Marshall, played by Ralph Fiennes (The English Patient). Lopez has a solid performance filled with surprising comedic talents and good acting.

The realistic convictions of her character could’ve been expanded even more especially given Christopher’s political background, but the audience only gets some tidbits at the end with a montage of magazine headlines. This romantic comedy presents a welcome change for Fiennes’ usual heavy dramatic roles and his presence brings hope of an extraordinary script.

All the elements are there, even veteran comedy filmmaker John Hughes (Home Alone) contributes the story. The movie ultimately comes down the execution which works fairly well except for a snobby socialite named Caroline, played by Natasha Richardson, who threatens the happy ending between Marisa and Christopher. Her functional role has great importance in the story, but unfortunately her comedic attempts fall flat.

Management aspirations and a hypercritical mother also present roadblocks to Marisa’s dream of happiness for herself and her adorable son, Ty, played by Tyler Garcia Posey. Stanley Tucci plays Jerry Siegel, Marshall’s relentless publicist, with comic vigor and Bob Hoskins (Who Framed Roger Rabbit?) makes a great casting choice as butler Lionel Bloch, but he doesn’t have enough screen time make his character really memorable (only his last scene stands out).

Directed by Wayne Wang (Joy Luck Club, Anywhere But Here) and filmed in New York and Chicago, this movie comes recommended with reservations (**1/2 out of four stars) and is rated PG-13 for language and sexual references.

Copyright © Michael Siebenaler

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