Maid in Manhattan (2002)

(On TV, April 2015)  I’m usually a good audience for romantic comedies and/or anything featuring Jennifer Lopez, so imagine my disappointment at my disappointment for this film.  A fairy-tale recast in modern setting (i.e.; a Manhattan maid in disguise as a wealthy guest catches the eye of an up-and-coming politician, leading to romantic complications), Maid in Manhattan seems intent on self-destructing before it ends.  It is, of course, about class issues… but doesn’t offer much in terms of criticism beyond a pat “work hard and you too can become part of (or marry into) the upper class.”  It never properly convinces audience of the perfect match between the two leads.  It doesn’t offer much to do for Jennifer Lopez, who seems to have been cast almost solely on the basis of finding an attractive Latina with name recognition.  It meanders through a series of obligatory scenes whose point is painfully obvious even when they begin.  Poor Ralph Fiennes seems to wander in the film, lost and confused as to what he’s doing there, never credible as a rising political star.  Even Stanley Tucci is stuck in a caricature and can’t escape the irritating mediocrity of the result.  By the time the stock ending is assembled out of the obvious plot-pieces, it feels more like a relief that the entire film is over more than any heartfelt affection for the reunited characters.  Maid in Manhattan classifies as a comedy on the basis that it’s not much of a drama and certainly not a tragedy –but you’d be hard-pressed to find laughs here.  Neither will you find anything else worth remembering.

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