Cinderella yarn not half as threadbare as 'J.Lo'
Cinderella yarn not half as threadbare as 'J.Lo'
By Leslie Gray Streeter, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 14, 2002
I really, really want to like Jennifer Lopez.
Well, let me rephrase that. I've never met Jennifer Lopez, and she wouldn't know me if I walked in her front door right now, although she would certainly have me arrested.
I mean that I want to like her as an actress, because she's a pretty good one. Her turns in Selena, Blood and Wine and Out of Sight made me, respectively, cry, gasp and want to be locked in a car trunk with George Clooney.
Unfortunately, Jennifer Lopez, the pretty good actress, has been eclipsed by Jennifer Lopez, the inescapable publicity machine and force of nature, also known as J.Lo. Look, it's J. Lo's new album! And her new celebri-boy toy! Hey, isn't that J.Lo's new perfume and clothing line you've got on? Let's all sit down and watch another hour of Matt Lauer Quizzes J.Lo On What She Had For Breakfast This Morning!
I believe Bill the Cat put it best when he said, "Aaaack!"
With this profound J.Lo saturation, forgive me for not being able to completely buy into her performance as steadfast single mom and hotel maid Marisa Ventura in the pleasant new Working Girl-esque comedy Maid In Manhattan.
As cute as the movie was, and as good as J.Lo was in it, I just couldn't get her stupid Jenny From The Block song out of my head or wonder if, at any moment, real-life fiancé Ben Affleck was going to jump from behind the towel rack, hijack a camera crew and start kissing on J.Lo and her enormous engagement ring, all the while whining about how people just won't leave them alone.
That's probably why I liked, but didn't love, Maid In Manhattan, a sweet, if completely predictable Cinderella story about a poor girl, a rich guy, a cute kid and an immaculate white Dolce and Gabbana outfit so awe-inspiring that it's even more beautiful than Lopez and Ralph Fiennes put together. And they're mighty pretty.
Our prince and princess-to-be, in this case, are dashing New York politico Chris Marshall (Ralph Fiennes) and Bronx beauty Marisa, who toils not in her snotty stepmother's kitchen but in the halls of the fictional Beresford Hotel in Manhattan.
Chris is at the hotel planning his senate campaign, while Marisa's working overtime to raise criminally cute son Ty (Tyler Garcia Posey) and rise through the Beresford ranks to be a manager and get out of that unflattering maid's uniform.
In a bone-headed move for someone hoping for a promotion, Marisa lets her goofy friend Stephanie (Marissa Matrone) talk her into trying on that aforementioned awesome Dolce suit. The no-no is that the suit belongs to snotty socialite Caroline (Natasha Richardson), who's been annoyingly ordering Marisa around and calling her "Maria."
The purloined suit
Even though this is technically stealing, Caroline's a classist and likely racist moron, and therefore the movie gives us permission to really dislike her. Caroline's also British, which in the world of American movies makes her even more hissable. Don't write me angry letters, British people who are reading this. Not my rule.
Anyway, Chris happens to see Marisa in Caroline's suite, while wearing Caroline's suit, and naturally assumes that she's Caroline, particularly when Stephanie calls her "Caroline." He asks Marisa and Ty to accompany him in Central Park to walk his dog, and because it's a movie, she accepts, rather than saying, "Walk your own dog, English Patient!"
The walk, of course, goes swimmingly, and Marisa and Chris instantly fall in love. Being a sucker for sappy romantic comedies, I was so with it, although I wondered why none of Marisa's bosses at this high-class, big-money hotel miss her while she's out swooning. When I worked at Burger King in high school, I couldn't step 3 feet from the shake machine without some stuck-up crew leader hassling my brown-corduroy-clad butt back to work.
If you've seen Working Girl, you know what's next -- mistaken identities, near-misses, big speeches about big dreams and some dreamy princess-like formal wear. I was rooting for Marisa, because she's proud of, not apologetic for, her heritage, her background and her son.
Fire those advisers
That's even though, in real life, her cover would've been blown in about 30 seconds. If a politician's people can't figure out a person's true identity, then he needs to fire those clowns and get new people. But Lopez is so sweet and smitten, and Fiennes so dreamy, if slightly stiff, that you want them to make it.
Unfortunately, the movie keeps throwing in distracting references to the real-life J.Lo, like a cute aside about her over-exposed backside or a montage of magazine covers, that keep blowing us back to reality. Suddenly I can't see Marisa... all I see is that infernal J.Lo!
And while I can't get enough of Marisa and Chris, J.Lo and Ben are starting to make me itch.
The Flick Chick's Bottom Line: Please, more Jennifer Lopez. No mo' J.Lo!