Maid in Manhattan
Director: Wayne Wang
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Ralph Fiennes, Natasha Richardson, Stanley Tucci, Bob Hoskins
Released: December 13, 2002
Viewed in theaters: December 16, 2002
This movie is like a PG-rated version of Pretty Woman, only replace a prostitute with a hotel maid. As for as romantic comedies go, this one is meh. It's not great, but it's not horrible. Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes are fine in their roles, except they really don't have any chemistry with each other. Lopez is Marissa, a single mother of a ten year old boy, Ty. She works as a maid for a fancy New York Hotel where they receive many important guests. This includes Senator Chris (Fiennes) who is staying there with his assistant (Tucci) and dog. All I can tell you about Chris is that he's a Republican...I really don't remember anything else about his politics. Either because it was boring or because there really was nothing else.
The late, great Natasha Richardson plays socialite Caroline who is also staying at the hotel the same time as Chris. She is a bit demanding of Marisa, asking her to do this and do that. This includes taking back a designer outfit to the store that she doesn't want. In one of the stupidest scenes of the movie, while Marissa and a fellow maid friend are in the room with Marissa gathering the garment, her friend eggs her on to try on the outfit. It's white pants, a white sleeveless turtleneck, and a white coat. (Duh, it's the outfit in the above photo!) Marissa says no, she can't do that, but her friend says it's her size and it's going back to the store anyway so it doesn't belong to Caroline so what's the problem? Uh, because you shouldn't try on other people's clothes, you dolt!
Meanwhile, Ty is at the hotel because his dad couldn't pick him up for a trip they were suppose to take so Marissa has to watch him. I don't know why she didn't leave him with her mother, but instead brings him to work. He sneaks off from doing homework and runs into Chris and his assistant and dog in an elevator. Ty knows who he is and Chris is impressed with his knowledge of politics. We had already seen a scene earlier of Ty giving a speech on Richard Nixon, so you'd think the movie was establishing he was into politics, right? No, wrong! He did the speech on Nixon because he's obsessed with the '70s as J-Lo later tells Fiennes. WTF? What kind of kid from 2002 likes the '70s? Nobody likes the '70s! Horrible music, horrible fashion, horrible home furnishings! It's the decade that gave us The Brady Bunch for god's sake! I mean, c'mon!
So Chris tells Ty that he is taking his dog for a walk and Ty asks if he can come and Chris says sure why not. Okay, yeah, just go for a walk with Voldemort! But seriously, it's a little weird that Chris is letting a young boy take a walk with him. Like that's not going to be suspicious to people who see that in the paper. He tells Ty to get permission from his mom so he takes them all up to Caroline's suite (I guess she told him where she would be) and Marisa is wearing the all-white ensemble (and quickly hides the tag). She gives a "be quiet" motion to her son not to blow her cover and pretends to be the Caroline who is staying in the suite. She goes out for a walk with Chris in Central Park wearing that all white outfit. You think something is going to happen, like a rip or a stain, and while there is a moment of horror when a magazine gets stuck to her butt (don't ask), everything is fine and she is able to return the outfit to the closet (she never had time to return it to the store) safe and sound. And not only do they walk around Central Park, but they also go to the zoo. So you're outside for a couple hours and don't even get one little stain on all that white fabric? Uh huh.
Chris is very taken with "Caroline" and wants to meet her again. However, when he sends a note to the suite asking Caroline to meet him for lunch, the note gets to the real Caroline and she is giddy because she had met Chris before once and knew they had "shared a moment". Marisa and the head butler (Bob Hoskins) are there to help out (I don't know why they need two people to help serve two people eating lunch...) and Marissa has to hide herself so Chris doesn't see her. Remember, he doesn't know she's a maid and thinks she's a rich socialite! When Chris sees a white blond woman enter, he is very confused and asks where that hot Latina woman is. Okay, he didn't say that! He actually referred to her as "Mediterranean." Butler Hoskins realizes that it's Marissa he's referring to and lets her leave so she can quit hiding behind flower vases and tea pots.
While driving somewhere, Chris sees Marissa and Ty walking and pulls over to talk to them. He tells them he's going to the Bronx to...I don't remember....and Marissa says "Blah, blah, you can't learn everything from just visiting there once. You didn't grow up there like I did or live there like I do." You think that this is going to be a political movement that will bring them closer together. Maybe Marissa will point out some issues that need to be addressed within her home district and he will bring awareness to it, but no, it never goes there.
He invites her to some ball, and Marissa still keeping up the charade, gets all dolled up in her Cinderella moment. There she runs into Caroline who recognizes her and outs her in front of Chris and everybody and accuses her of wearing her clothes. Somehow she found out about that...I forgot how. Marissa is fired and Chris is angry she lied to her. Who really cares. They only spent a day walking in a park and then had a one night stand after the Cinderella dance. But then Ty brings them back together and they become one of New York's most high profiled couple! GROAN!
Oh, I forgot to mention another really stupid scene: Marissa needs something, so she goes down to the hotel's gift shop (I'm assuming) and the woman at the register is talking on the phone and it's obvious she's talking with a friend and not helping out a customer and she's just blowing off Marissa and the other people behind her until Marissa finally yells at her and tells her to do her damn job. This scene is only in here to establish that Marissa would make a fine good manager, a job that her friend has applied her for. I have never seen somebody in customer service blatantly ignoring a customer while talking to a friend on the phone. You would have to be PRETTY STUPID to do that!
The more I think about it, the more stupid this movie is!