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Maid in Manhattan
Columbia Pictures

J. "Jenny from the Block" Lo's new movie is surprisingly kind of fun and generally entertaining. It's one of those very cutesy Hollywood fluff movies that you rent (or in my case, go see on the big screen) when you're in the mood for something not very intellectually challenging. Sometimes after a long day at work and a relaxing commute on this lovely overcrowded NYC transit system we call the "subway" (short for Son Uh Bitch Watchoutbeforeikill A Youifyoudontgetthefuckouttamyway), you don't always want to watch foreign-language subtitled art house flicks. Not that there's anything wrong with foreign-language subtitled art house flicks. Really. I'm just sayin'.

J. Lo serves up the "romance" (ie. two good looking people getting paid to gaze longingly at each other while we secretly feel warm and fuzzy despite the many years of pent-up sarcasm and apathy we've carefully cultivated) in Maid in Manhattan with the help of sidekicks Ralph Fiennes, Stanley Tucci, and a cute kid. I don't know the kid's name and I could look it up on the internet but I'm too lazy. He's a decent enough actor and he's cute and that's all that's really expected of the kid part in a movie like this. As long as he doesn't look like he's reading from cue cards, I'm happy. I got low expectations, you know? They can't all be Elijah Wood -- who by the way I've had a crush on since he was like 10 which makes me think that maybe I'm kind of a pedophile and I'm really relieved now that he's all grown up and a big movie star cause I can crush on him publicly now. Plus, in reality, he's like what? Only 4 years younger than me, so that's not so bad. He was 10, I was 14, that's allowed, right?

But back to the movie... The plot is totally predictable, of course. Although I definitely expected Stanley Tucci's character to do the whole Pretty Woman bit that he seemed to be gearing up for. Cause he's that guy. You know, when George Costanza tries to rape Julia Roberts and then Richard Gere comes in and starts throwing punches? He's the George guy. For Maid in Manhattan, I was hoping they'd drop that plot point -- which, to my relief, they did.

So J. Lo's a maid and she looks good in the maid outfit. There's no gratuitous butt-shot or nudie scenes so if that's what you're looking for, just rent her music video collection (I'm sure she has one) or flip on MTV, cause she shows way more skin in 3-minute videos than she does in this whole movie. But that's okay since I was busy peeping Ralph Fiennes, who's name pretty much says it all. I won't go there -- okay, I will. He's FIIIINE. There, I did it. He is though! Come on, that boy is hot! I haven't had a chance to watch the English Patient and everyone I know refuses to rent it with me but I think it has lots of shirt-off scenes so mental note - must rent.

But really, what an actor. Look at his performances and the movies he's been in. He was brilliant in both Schindler's List and Quiz Show, he was great in Strange Days, which I loved. Even though I was sort of disappointed that the whole millennium thing didn't turn out quite the way that movie led you to believe it would (you might point out that would make me the type of person who believed stuff I saw in movies and I'd just like to say that's a totally ridiculous accusation). And the End of the Affair!! Want to see a very graphic, very hot sex scene between Ralph and Julianne Moore (who wouldn't)? Rent it.

In Maid in Manhattan, Ralph doesn't quite lose the British accent for his role as a politician who's trying to win a Senate seat. But why would we want him to? His speech coach probably got all distracted by his hotness and forgot to do their job. I don't mind this type of suspension-of-disbelief. I mean HELLO I'm a New Yorker, I know that hotel they're trying to pawn off as some other hotel is really the Waldorf-Astoria. Sheesh, I'm not that stupid. And the skyline shots are so totally fake, I mean, there's no twin towers! Jeez... But at least Ralph doesn't do that weird John-Wayne sounding accent that all the Brits put on when they're pretending to be Americans. What is with that anyway? Whenever my European friends imitate Americans they either sound like an exaggerated John Wayne or like Puff Daddy. P. Diddy. Umm… Sean Combs, uh, Sean John... man, I fucking give up.

I don't really know how they snagged Ralph for this role. Maybe he was like - "yo, I'm tired of doing all this Oscar-nominated highbrow stuff. I just want to make out with J. Lo and get paid for it. You feelin' me?" Either way, it's cool with me. I don't need him to be busting out Shakespeare (wait, that was Joseph… well, whatever) to plunk my $10 down to watch those blue eyes for an hour and a half.

So yeah, the lowdown is this - Jenny Lopez runs around wearing a maid outfit and pretending she's a poor single mother from the projects with an unusually gifted son who's father (her ex) is a deadbeat Dad. She's trying to make ends meet and maybe snag a management position and her mother is giving her that guilt that all mothers give their daughters - you know... "You have to know your place in life, you'll never be anything more than a maid, don't think you can succeed beyond that" etc. etc...
Can I just say that for the record, being from a Jewish family, I can't really relate to this. My Mom (calling from Florida of course) is more like "What do you mean you don't want to be a lawyer? Your brother's a lawyer... Why can't you just find a nice rich guy instead of these tattooed hooligan musician guys you like? I've seen your website, don't think I don't know..." My mother, unlike J. Lo's mother, would have no problem with me trying for a promotion and getting it on with a rich politician.

Anyway, Ralph thinks Jenny is a guest and not a maid cuz when he meets her she's wearing Dolce and Gabbana and her ass looks good in it. She sits on a magazine with his picture on the front and says "Oh, I just sat on your face". We all giggle. She shows off some Harry Winston flash, he finds out she's a maid and shockingly enough he doesn't care, he gets the Latino community vote and wins the Senate seat, and everyone's happy. Including me.

  -- Margo Tiffen


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