This is an installment for a series on this blog where Joe Brown, Sports Editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle, and I have a back-and-forth review of a movie. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here. For this installment, Brown picked “Maid in Manhattan.”
The Movie: “Maid in Manhattan”
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Ralph Fiennes, Natasha Richardson
Director: Wayne Wang
Plot Summary: (From IMDB) A senatorial candidate falls for a hotel maid, thinking she is a socialite when he sees her trying on a wealthy woman’s dress.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 40 percent
You deserve this, Fromming. Because “Magic Mike” was a pointless mess. So now, we go back to the world of Rom-Coms. And who better than Jennifer Lopez to drag us through this world with “Maid in Manhattan?”
Since we are single (Ladies…?), this is not a genre of film Froemming and I venture into very often. So who better than a hotel maid who white-lies her way into bed with a politician to teach us about love?
The most shocking thing here: John Hughes was one of the writers of this movie. Yes, THAT John Hughes, who wrote seminal ‘80s movies like “The Breakfast Club” and “Sixteen Candles.”
Surely, this movie would be good, right? RIGHT?!
There is only one use for this kind of film: As an enhanced interrogation technique.
Brown: Oh come now. These movies provide teenage boys a litmus test to their girlfriends to see if they can score an awkward kiss (or more) later down the line. These movies suck, but they are important.
But I will say again, they suck. Even when a Rom-Com is disguised as a dude’s movie like “Jerry McGuire.”
But we don’t get that. We get an imaginary thing to start “Maid in Manhattan:” A 10-year-old obsessed with Simon and Garfunkel.
Froemming: Not only that, a kid who is obsessed with President Richard Milhous Nixon. Right away, I realized this child is a bit touched in the head.
Brown: Obsessed with Nixon to the point that Ty (who plays J-Lo’s son) spent his summer vacation working on a speech about the man. This has next to nothing to do with the plot, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to ignore a child who wasted his summer on Richard (REDACTED) Nixon. Not for nothing, but this movie took place in 2002. Ty was not listening to Simon and Garfunkel. Probably Hoobastank.
Also, Marisa (J-Lo) keeps calling Ty “Papi.” Stop. That’s your child. That’s off-putting.
Froemming: Everything about this movie was off-putting. This is a movie about a woman who lies, steals clients’ clothes, tricks a senatorial candidate, impersonates a socialite, ditches her job all the time and gets away with it. No wonder Millennials think they deserve the world without working for it.
Brown: OK, back on track… So we’re introduced to Marisa and her frantic life as a single mom trying to make a living in New York City. After she drops Ty off at school, she heads to her job at the Beresford Hotel, dealing with the upper crust of society. There’s French people stealing soaps and shampoo, a man who got kicked out of his room naked by his wife… the works.
A key guest that’s staying at the hotel is New York senate candidate Christopher Marshall (Fiennes). And right away, I was taken out of the movie because I kept thinking Marshall was a relative of President Marshall from “Air Force One.”
And in a thing that bugged me throughout the movie, every time I saw Fiennes on screen, I thought of his role as Francis Dolarhyde in “Red Dragon” and immediately feared for Marisa’s life.
Froemming: I thought Marshall was the grandson of Amon Goeth, the Nazi that Fiennes played in “Schindler’s List.” And that really skewed how I watched this film. Because when Brown throws boring movies like this my way, my imagination tends to go to the darker elements in life.
Anyway, Marisa promises her little Papi that his father will make his big speech. But because this movies is riddled with classic cliches, I knew right away the deadbeat dad was never going to show up.
Brown: So during their work shift, Marisa and her insufferable friend Stephanie are cleaning a room and come across a Dolce & Gabbana outfit that is supposed to be returned. Because why the (REDACTED) not, Steph guilt-trips Marisa to try on the outfit.
Somewhere before this, there’s some subplot about a managerial position opening at the hotel, and Marisa is encouraged to apply by Steph and two black maids who add nothing to the movie over than acting like the hologram that repeats “My man!” in “Rick and Morty.”
Not many three-dimensional characters in this movie.
Froemming: A quick backtrack. Ty bombs his speech worse than Nixon bombed Cambodia. This makes him depressed and his dad never shows up. This means Marisa has to have her child at the hotel all weekend.
Now, as Marisa and her nefarious friend are trying on a stranger’s clothes that do not belong to them, Ty brings Chris into the room because children do that sort of thing I guess. He met Chris on the elevator, and wowed this Republican with his knowledge of Nixon (again, this is perhaps the weirdest thing in the whole movie to me). Also, I am sure Republicans love being reminded of the man who disgraced their party and resigned in shame.
This is how Chris and Marisa meet. They meet with what will become a big web of lies on Marisa’s part. I have no sympathy for her in this film at all.
Brown: OK, this bugged me a lot in the movie. So Chris is trying to woo Marisa, who says she is Caroline, the woman who is actually staying in the room. And when they leave to walk the dog with Ty, because love at first sight and all, the media is ALL OVER them. I understand some press following around a state senator nominee, but this guy is getting stalked like Lindsay Lohan leaving a bar. It’s utterly insane. And this is New York City, there has to be other news to cover. But no, Chris Marshall is FRONT. PAGE. NEWS. Chris also makes the press a deal that if they leave him alone to walk with Marisa/Caroline, he’ll get them all into the Met on Monday. BS. Fifteen years later, Republicans will call the press the enemy of the American people.
Froemming: Politicians have beens saying that for hundreds of years.
Anyway, Marisa is spinning her web of lies and her goofy son tells her she didn’t technically lie to Marshall, she just didn’t tell him the entire truth. This kid has a future in law or public relations.
OK, Brown. We know Bob Hoskins was blitzed when he filmed “Super Mario Bros.” How drunk was he filming this? The first time we see him as the butler, he’s already cut himself open. I’m guessing that was not in the script.
Brown: I did ask in my notes if he was “Super Mario Bros.” drunk. And considering he sliced his hand on a plastic medicine bottle, I think that takes a least a fifth of vodka to accomplish. And I don’t know why he’s in this movie. Like, they want him to be some moral support, but all he does is hide Marisa’s lie when the real Caroline gets a lunch invite from Chris, and then at the end of the movie, he quits the hotel when Marisa gets fired. Which, I don’t care that I’m skipping ahead, that whole thing was incredibly stupid. Why would Lionel quit? The movie treats him like a martyr over it, but Lionel’s done NOTHING to earn that. So because Marisa needed herself some senator and vice versa, he should quit his job?
Froemming: I think he just told her that. He was probably canned for drinking on the job.
Brown: Lionel was canned from the hotel? Or Bob Hoskins was canned from the movie? Either is applicable.
Froemming: Well, Marisa is asked to meet with her higher-ups at the hotel. She thinks they are (rightly) going to fire her. But no, because in this film people are promoted when they are terrible at their jobs. That’s right, Marisa is now considered for management! It is her dream! Her sad, sad dream! But she is not entirely happy, because Steph filled out the application for her. Sure, what the (REDACTED) ever. Also, her mother doesn’t want her to move up to management because the script demanded it.
Brown: Apparently Marisa makes up a noted heritage of housekeepers? I dunno. Not a lot of thought went into this movie. Also, knowing their friend may get in trouble for fraternizing with a customer, Marisa’s friends give her the dance/shopping montage treatment that is required of a Rom-Com.
Because, at the Met on Monday night, that is the last night Marisa can see Chris. Because we need some Cinderella (REDACTED) in this movie.
Anyone else feel lost in regards to the plot? Yeah, don’t blame you.
Froemming: It was at this point I had scrawled “I hate Joe Brown” for the seventh time in my notes…
Yeah, see she has to break it off with Chris (she has to actually act like a professional for once in order to move on to management) at the Met, a $2,500-a-plate dinner she shames him earlier in the film about because they needed some hazy political views for whatever reason.
And her web of deceit is furthered as her friends use their positions to jack some expensive clothes and jewelry for her, so her ruse as an upper-crust socialite can continue.
Remember folks, in this film all healthy relationships start with lies and trickery.
Brown: So, because there’s some thread of continuity, Caroline sees Marisa with Chris and gets all jealous. Apparently, Chris couldn’t say during their luncheon “Sorry LOL, wrong person. But thanks for having lunch with me. Sorry to mislead you,” so Caroline decides to narc on Marisa. And she just so happens to do this after a night of love-making for Chris and Marisa. How weird would it be to have sex and all in your place of work if you’re a hotel maid? I want to keep my job, so I’ll leave it at that.
Now that I think about it, this is probably how their night went:
Froemming: I love Marisa’s game plan: Break it off with Chris, but suddenly just sleep with him. “LULZ, my bad!” This film is hot garbage.
Anyway, Caroline and her friend (played by Amy Sedaris, who I had hoped would at least make some of this entertaining, but didn’t) narc on Marisa and because Caroline must be face-blind to all social cues, does not seem to see that Chris is disgusted with her inviting him to Marisa’s (justified) firing.
This leads to her little conversation with the obviously inebriated Lionel, where he tells her he quit (but was probably fired). He tells her just because they serve the guests, they are not servants. No, Lionel, that is exactly what the job title is: Servant.
Brown: Something that bothered me: When Marisa gets fired, she leaves the job in her maid uniform? Umm, shouldn’t they get that back from her?
Anyway, after the firing, we get some classist argument from Marisa and Chris where she (probably rightfully) claims that Chris would have never paid attention to her if he saw her as just the maid and not a fake socialite. The media is there to catch the whole thing, so all of a sudden we have front-page news again. Hey guys, we were bombing Iraq around this time, I feel like that’s a more important narrative to tell instead of “Single politician gets yelled at by a lover, LOL.”
Seriously, (REDACTED) this movie.
Froemming: The movie came out in 2002, so the press would probably be more interested in the aftermath of 9/11 instead of a tryst between some candidate and the maid who lied her way into his heart.
Brown: Aftermath of 9/11 in NEW YORK (REDACTED) CITY!
Brown: Life moves on between Marisa and Chris. Seemingly days after getting axed for sleeping with a hotel patron, Marisa gets ANOTHER hotel maid job. Maybe the Roosevelt doesn’t get the Post? I dunno. And, Chris announces his candidacy.
But Ty, who is basically the male manic pixie dream girl of this movie, decides he can’t leave well enough alone and meddles in his mother’s affairs. So, when Chris gives a speech at the Roosevelt, Ty crashes the press conference. I doubt the media would just let him ask some long-winded question about forgiveness unless he convinced the press pool he was a terminally ill kid. Knowing how much lying goes on in this movie, that wouldn’t be a shock.
Froemming: Ty was somehow more obnoxious than Max on “Fuller House” and that is saying something.
Brown: At least Ty’s treachery lasts 90 minutes instead of a full (REDACTED) week.
Froemming: Two full (REDACTED) weeks for us.
Ty then leads Chris to the break room where Marisa is at. Ty locks the bloodthirsty press from the room, where they actually shout things that sound like terroristic threats at the two. Trump is right, I guess we are the enemy of the people. Who else would badger a nobody maid like this?
But hey, Chris and Marisa smooch and all is well! We know this because we get a montage of newspaper and magazine covers telling us so. I was unaware there is a magazine solely for hotel managers!
Brown: This is the laziest ending to a movie I’ve ever seen. And, People would not give a (REDACTED) about the romance between a politician and a maid.
Well, since we can’t end this review with a magazine montage, we should get to recommendations.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
Brown: Nope. As much as Jennifer Lopez was a seminal figure in my teenage years, this was hot garbage. The only thing that makes it redeemable is if you think Marisa becomes a victim of the Red Dragon.
Froemming: No. And my revenge will be felt in the future, Brown. Mark my words.