We continue our third season of Ten Movies, delving deeply into the cinematic oeuvre of Jennifer Lopez. In this week’s episode, we watch the modern-day fairy tale ‘Maid in Manhattan’, in which a heroic working-class Latina single mom falls for a rich, handsome prince who appears to be suffering from a brain concussion.
The further we get into our Jennifer Lopez season, the more dismayed we are by the quality of her body of work. She’s really great in this role – a plucky, streetwise maid [in Manhattan] who is accidentally mistaken for a member of the ruling class by a wealthy politician – but the movie itself was disappointing.
On the one hand, it has potential beyond your bog-standard romantic comedy. It’s framed more like a fable – a retelling of the Cinderella story – which (somewhat) relieves the unrealism that obtains in romantic comedies. Plus it has an incredibly strong point-of-view on class – the divide between the haves and the have-nots is constantly referenced and illustrated in the film, with the movie firmly on the side of the multi-racial proletariat.
Yet the romance at the heart of the movie falls painfully flat, largely because of Ralph Fiennes as the handsome, wealthy, Kennedy-esque Prince Charming character. He’s just terrible. Hemal felt he was miscast and doing a straight-up bad job at being, you know, charming, while Brian felt the screenwriters had simply forgotten to give his character any motivation for upending his entire privileged life beyond “Hey, that’s a hot maid! [in Manhattan]”.
You’ll have to watch and see for yourself, but we fear – sadly – you will agree.