A review of “Maid in Manhattan” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ***

Rating: PG-13 for language, adult themes

Run Time: 1 hour, 43 minutes

 

 

“Notting Hill” meets “Pretty Woman” (sans common denominator Julia Roberts) in this quintessential holiday date movie.

Jennifer Lopez is just like you, or so she’ll have you believe – an ordinary, middle-class gal who loves her kid and works hard for the money.  Wonder of wonders, I bought J. Lo stumping her low-rent stuff as a lowly housekeeper in a first-class New York City hotel.

In a prototypical case of mistaken identity, Marisa the maid (Lopez) lands face-to-face with suave Senatorial candidate Christopher Marshall (Ralph Fiennes) while covertly duded up in a hotel guest’s Dolce and Gabbana.  Oops.  Marshall takes one look and it’s cue up the violins.  Ditto Marisa, who’s smitten on sight but knows that Guys Like Him don’t go for Girls Like Her.

But curiosity gets the better of her, and Marisa flies with the charade. Something akin to Cinderella stringing her prince along until the coach transforms itself into a vivid orange hue.  Naturally the clock eventually strikes midnight, and Marisa’s act is exposed for what it is – a fraud.

Can true love transcend the boundaries of race and class? Can Christopher Marshall slum with the likes of a hotel maid and still win the Primary? 

I’ve got to give Lopez credit – she plies her unaffected appeal on screen with an effortless charm that’s difficult to resist.  Fiennes eschews his inner freak (“Red Dragon”, “Spider”) in favor of a million-dollar smile and a sexy nonchalance that’s insanely beguiling.

Lightweight montages and fairy-tale platitudes fit the narrative like a glass slipper.  Supporting players Bob Hoskins (recreating Hector Elizondo’s “Pretty Woman” fairy godfather) and Marissa Matrone (the hotel co-worker with plenty of dreams to go around) are frothy stereotypical sidekicks, on sight merely to fulfill the fantasy. 

Lightweight, innocuous and romantic, “Maid” is good, old-fashioned fun.