Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Maid in Manhattan

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some language/sexual references

Reviewed by: Megan Basham

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Romance Comedy
Year of Release:
Jennifer Lopez in “Maid in Manhattan”
Relevant Issues

1. The stories we tell, including the Cinderella story, creates the categories through which we view ourselves and our world. Consider the other tales we tell our children and how they reinforce or provide solutions to our prejudices, fears and dysfunctions. What does “The Three Little Pigs” do? The “Three Bears?” “Little Red Riding Hood?”

2.Contrast and compare the biblical history with the children’s stories you know. Which stories would be best told to reinforce the biblical worldview? What aspects of a tale are most damaging in final analysis?

3. Consider the modern morality of “Maid in Manhattan” in that they were intimate after their night “at the ball.” How is this different from the original Cinderella story where the prince marries her and they “live happily ever after?” Why is this change in the story being made?
—Denny and Hal,

Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Ralph Fiennes, Natasha Richardson, Di Quon, Kevin Wade | Directed by: Wayne Wang | Produced by: John Hughes, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Joe Roth, Julia Roberts | Written by: John Hughes | Distributor: Columbia Pictures

I think its safe to say that everyone going to see J.Lo’s latest release, “Maid in Manhattan”, pretty much knows what to expect: Single, working-class mom from the Bronx gets mixed up in Cinderella circumstances with charming (even prince-like) politician. Dressed up in someone else’s wardrobe, at first he takes her for a princess, but loves her anyway when the time comes to rescue her from her drudgery.

As fluffy and formulaic as it is, sometimes this is all we ladies want—a romantic little fairy-tale to share with our girlfriends or the husband who owes us for sitting through the latest Steven Segal debacle. Unfortunately, as much as I wanted to enjoy this movie under said criteria, the story line was just too 1950s for me to take seriously. Don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe that a good Cinderella story, ala “Working Girl” and “Pretty Woman” (both of which this film is being compared to), can always be updated for a new audience. But the operative word here is update, something screenwriter Kevin Wade doesn’t bother with at all.

Jennifer Lopez plays Marisa Ventura, a maid in a ritzy New York hotel who dreams of management, but fears her ethnic background will keep her from ever realizing her ambitions. Ralph Fiennes is the Republican Senatorial candidate who must overcome the prejudices of his campaign manager (Stanley Tucci) to win his blue-collar dream girl. Honestly, this reliance on ethnicity as both a professional and personal obstacle for Marisa comes off not only as lazy, but also inappropriate for today’s political and romantic world.

It seems to me that if a woman as smart as Marisa were passed over simply because of her race or housekeeping status, she would certainly know who to contact in the HR department to file a complaint. Similarly, if Fiennes’s campaign manager really can’t see what a political boon it would be for a Republican to fall for a struggling, single mom, then he needs to be fired and immediately sent back to whatever publicity playpen he toddled out of. Anyone with even the least bit of political savvy would surely know how to spin such a situation into a PR goldmine. These may not be issues that would trouble everyone, but for me, this silly, outdated plot translated to an hour and a half of almost straight boredom (pretty clothes and Harry Winston jewels not withstanding).

Also, while both Lopez and Fiennes turn in adequate performances, very few sparks build between them, so, of course, the obligatory sex scene is thrown in to convince us they really are falling in love. It goes without saying this is not the kind of lie our teenagers once again need reinforced to them. So moms, if you do take a Christmas shopping break with your daughters to see this one, I would make sure to point out how drastically this worldly version of love differs from our Christian one.

For a far more entertaining afternoon out, you might consider “Sweet Home Alabama”. It too has some moral problems with its endorsement of homosexuality, but the main characters’ relationship relies on a much deeper foundation, and Reese Witherspoon experiences some growing pains that could provide good lessons for young women. Overall, “Maid in Manhattan” is simply your average, run of the mill romantic comedy, with very little to make it more than a renter on a slow Saturday night.

Viewer Comments
Comments below:
Positive—I found this movie sweet and entertaining, although I agree with some of the other opinions that the movie was predictable. I also found the chemistry between Ralph Fiennes and Jennifer Lopez to be completely believable even if the story line was not. Morally, Maid in Manhattan started on the right track, but got a bit derailed there on the “big date.” Even though the sex was only implied (vs. gratuitous), I found myself disappointed with the characters for giving into those desires with no thought to consequences, no thought to the example it sets for Marissa’s son Ty, no time to really get to know one another, and certainly no commitment to the other. Both characters seemed to promote “doing the right thing” (Marissa tells her son that withholding the truth is the same as lying and is just as wrong) except in regards to sexual/pre-marital relations. A little worldly, but otherwise delightful.
My Ratings: [Average / 2½]
—Susan Parker, age 31
Positive—I really liked this modern day “Cinderella” story, despite it being predictable and a little “cheesy”. The characters were very likable. I would observe the PG-13 rating, it contained at least 2 uses of GD and a couple other mild profanities. The main thing I objected to was the implied sexual encounter, which sends such a bad message to the targeted audience age group. Other than that, it’s a very cute movie.
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—Leslie, age 33
Positive—I think that this movie was very refreshing. There were only a few scenes that could have been left out, but they did not go into detail with those scenes. It was a feel good movie that left you feeling refreshed. I would recommend it for a girls night out. Your boyfriend might find it a little cheesy, but I went with a guy and he actually didn’t think it was too bad. I definitely give this movie a thumbs up.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Heidi, age 18
Neutral—This is your average Jennifer Lopez movie—mediocre at best. It plods along and has a few cute moments. The sex scene I found offensive. (Really—on the first date?) I didn’t feel a connection between the two main characters at all. Not a terrible movie, yet not a good movie either.
My Ratings: [Average / 2]
—Jean, age 18
Neutral—The three offensive words in it did not make or break the movie and as such could have been left out. Very predictable movie. One implied sex scene-also could have been left out. It wasn’t a necessary scene to make the movie complete. I wonder when “they” will get the point. They don’t need to add sex and offensive language to make a great movie.
My Ratings: [Average / 3]
—Donna, age 31
Negative—Two words to describe the film: Boring and Predictable. Well, maybe it’s my fault… maybe I expected something like “The Wedding Planner,” but I got terribly put down. It was sweet… but it’s definitely not a movie that you have to see. The acting was poor at some points and a few details were neglected. Also, there was inappropriate language and subject matter, not to mention the bed scene that was implied (they show when they wake up the next morning). All in all, a child under the age of 12 shouldn’t see it and neither should an adult who wants excellent entertainment.
My Ratings: [Average / 1½]
—Ruth, age 18
Comments from young people
Neutral—I went to see this a couple of days ago, and thought it was cute. I thought it was just like the movie “Ever After,” but in the year 2003 instead of the 1500s. I liked it and wouldn’t mind seeing it again, but not soon. It was kind of predictable, and there is a scene where I thought Jennifer Lopez’s dress was way to low. I would wait until it comes to video. If you like J.Lo then you’ll enjoy this movie.
My Ratings: [Average / 3½]
—Kate, age 16
Negative—…nothing more or less than I had expected, although it was, at times, mildly touching or minorly humorous. The problem with this movie is not each of the offensive aspects of it, (profanity, implied sex scene) but the simple fact that the movie was badly done. (Even movies with a G-rating can lack quality.) The movie carried a bad idea that should have been written as a cheap novel and remained that way.

It lacked everything a movie needs to keep you interested—One of my friends made the comment, “Well, that was the most expensive nap I’ve ever taken.” It contained nothing I didn’t expect, and was the typical movie experience I had anticipated from a Jennifer Lopez film. Throughout the whole movie, one idea was apparent to me: it was a childish movie that should be viewed by teens or older. (or no one at all.) My advice? Watch the movie trailer, and then ask your unfortunate friends who saw it to tell you the ending. Save your money and see something more… palatable.
My Ratings: [Average / 2]
—Nills, age 16
Negative—It was a terrible movie, I’m not into the “chick flick” type movies at all but I ended up going to see it not knowing what to expect. Morally it’s “ok” (not much cussing, sex or violence), but it’s very predicable and overall I’d say it’s a waste of time.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 2]
—Amy, age 16
Positive—I thought that this was an excellent movie! Ralph Fiennes is adorably handsome in this movie, and Jennifer Lopez was beautiful as always. I would definitely say that this is a feel good movie. It had romance and comedy. They both had great on screen chemistry and you could tell. I can’t wait until this movie comes out to buy because I will be the first in line!!!…
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—Sara, age 16
Neutral—This movie was an okay movie. The main character (Jennifer Lopez) did say a few slightly bad words in the whole movie. It had its ups and downs. Some parts in the movie I thought was bad acting. It had a good theme: Don’t Lie, but in a way lying gave her a good life. I think this movie can be fixed, but other then that it’s an okay movie.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3]
—Anna, age 13
Positive—I loved the movie! J.Lo, is a great actress! the did say God a few time, EX: God, I’m late! But overall It’s a great movie!
My Ratings: [Good / 4½]
—Merry, age 13