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World’s Worst Chick Flick Part 2: Maid in Manhattan

December 14, 2010

After watching this movie, I’ve made a decision. I need to move to New York City, make a few sassy friends, and walk through the city. This is the formula for falling in love. I’m not sure if it’s something in the water that makes everyone fall in love in NYC. Or maybe they just cram so many people into one city that you literally can’t go anywhere without falling in love. But I’m almost positive that half of all movies take place in New York City and 85% of all romantic comedies.

Maid in Manhattan is one of those NYC love stories. Jennifer Lopez plays Marissa, a maid at a fancy hotel. Ralph Fiennes play Chris Marshall, a man running for the state senate who is staying at the fancy hotel. Through a series of hilarious (read: improbable) circumstances, Chris thinks that Marissa is actually a guest at the hotel named Caroline. He thinks this because she was cleaning the real Caroline’s room and her friend talked her into trying on an outfit from the closet. I take comfort in the fact that the majority of my clothes come from the sale rack at Target, so the chances of a hotel maid trying them on are slim to none.

Chris is rich and handsome and she’s a working class beauty with a cute son. And that’s about it. Oh but there’s a complication—the real Caroline has her eyes on Chris as well and she has the help of her obnoxious friend. They find out what’s going on and expose Marissa for the fraud that she is in a fit of self-righteous rage.

If you ever decide to write a love story, here’s a question you should ask yourself: “Why would these two people fall in love?” And that is the unanswered question from this movie. Other than the fact that they fall close to each other on the Scale of Beauty, I can’t really understand why Marissa would fall for Chris. Maybe I’m just picky and my preference for men with personality is too much to ask for. But you know the saying that someone “phoned in” a performance? Ralph Fiennes didn’t even bother phoning in this performance—he just texted it. Which on one hand is remarkable considering the year this movie was made, but then again sad because I know Fiennes has the ability to play characters with…how shall I say it…panache.

Ralph Fiennes

When a movie has a weak plot, I’ve noticed that writers fill in the cracks with quirky characters. And boy does Maid in Manhattan have some quirky characters. First, there is her cute little son Ty. I feel a little bad for bashing his character because he’s a sweet kid, but come on people. A 10-year-old obsessed with the 70s? A kid who reads the biography of Henry Kissinger and listens to the Nixon Tapes? Really? Of all the quirks you could have given this kid, you choose an obsession with the 70s? And of all the decades you could have chosen for him to obsessed with, you chose the decade that gave us this?

Bee Gees

Look at the fancy hair!

The other quirky characters include the sassy maids with whom Marissa works, the aforementioned annoying sidekick of the real Caroline, and the overbearing campaign manager. Oh, and the mom who doesn’t believe her daughter will ever amount to anything more than a maid. Basically, the writers took normal people and amped them up to eleven. But not in the “we’re gonna rock all night” way. More like the “I want to throw a rock at you” way.

If you’re looking for a movie that only takes one third of your attention to follow, this is the movie for you. If you’re looking for a movie that relies on Norah Jones music to let you know things are about to get romantic, this is the movie for you. If you’re looking for a movie that makes you like the characters and root for them to find love and happiness, I’d suggest queuing up something from the early 90s Meg Ryan library.

[Edited to add: Do’h! I forgot to mention the newest addition to this series: The Movie Scale! Knox McCoy had the great idea of putting the movies on a scale so you know just how bad (or maybe, just maybe, good) the movie is. Thanks Knox!]

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