Maid In Manhattan

Maid In Manhattan


Reviewed by: David Stanners

"They don't make them like they used to" is a well-worn cliché in Hollywood. When it comes to romantic comedies, it couldn't be more true. Gone are Bogey, Bacall and Co, but that's life. Since the onslaught of the Meg Ryan generation, modern romances have become chick flicks imposed on suffering men by girlfriends and wives alike. It shouldn't be like this.

Maid In Manhattan isn't this biased, but treads a narrow board. Marisa (Jennifer Lopez) and Chris Marshall (Ralph Fiennes) are at opposite ends of the class spectrum. He's a Republican candidate for the Senate; she's a working-class maid in a plush hotel. Story goes as formula states; two people meet, date, argue a bit, fall for each other, and love conquers all.

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Marisa is a hard working single mother, striving to feed and clothe her young boy. Along comes right wing WASP Mr Fiennes - far too liberal to be a Republican - and sweeps her off her feet. Not quite. Marisa puts up a fight, based on her principles. He's high profile tabloid juice and she's a low-key grafter. They meet in Central Park with her posing in one of the hotel client's designer outfits. He's impressed; she's suspicious, but intrigued. He's nice to her highly precocious young son (Tyler Posey), who already knows the difference between Republicans and Democrats. When the youngster meets Marshall and his PR man (Stanley Tucci) in the hotel elevator, Mr PR smugly asks if his parents are Democrats or Republicans. The kid suitably answers, "What's the difference these days?"

As far as the usual diet of formulaic Hollywood romances goes, this isn't so bad. No new ground is made, but then there's very little left to make. What's most important is the chemistry. First of all, Marshall is far too congenial and open to working-class plights to be an authentic right-winger, so that's implausible. The whole scenario is highly unlikely, but, as with real romance, the most redeeming feature is an offering of hope and possibility between two opposites, and somehow this works.

Lopez is believable, but, for one reason or another, slightly typecast. Bob Hoskins sheds his Cockney vowels for a RP accent and plays a white version of the butler in The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air - highly deferent, highly different. Natasha Richardson makes an appearance as a wannabee socialite after a rich Republican arm piece. The gold medal goes to Posey, who is excellent as the shy, intelligent son with a strange penchant for Nixon and Kissinger.

In the end, if a Republican can fall for a maid, then Bush can fall for common sense.

Reviewed on: 19 Mar 2003
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Ralph Fiennes is a prospective senator who falls for Jennifer Lopez, as a hotel maid.
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Angus Wolfe Murray ***

Director: Wayne Wang

Writer: Kevin Wade

Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Ralph Fiennes, Natasha Richardson, Stanley Tucci, Tyler Posey, Marissa Matrone, Bob Hoskins, Frances Conroy, Chris Eigeman, Amy Sedaris

Year: 2002

Runtime: 105 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US


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