In Maid in Manhattan, Jennifer Lopez plays the most radiantly beautiful housekeeper to ever grace the silver screen. Despite a dowdy gray uniform and sensible shoes, her beat and brushed mug screams Rodeo Drive, even though her character is supposedly just another girl on the IRT.
Of course, it always takes a certain suspension of disbelief to get swept away by a featherweight romantic comedy; that’s doubly true for one as frothy as this. The insistently real Jenny plays Marisa, a single-mom chambermaid who hopes to one day be named assistant manager of the luxury hotel at which she’s employed (hey, why bother dreaming unless you dream big?). When an exceedingly contrived case of mistaken identity lands her a date with Christopher (Ralph Fiennes), a dashing senatorial candidate, Marisa finds herself risking everything to prolong the fairy-tale romance, regardless of the increasingly difficult task of hiding her true identity.
It’s never quite clear what this hopelessly mismatched couple sees in one another. Though Christopher claims to be smitten by her “realness,” it’s more likely he’s interested in what’s beneath her fierce Dolce and Gabbana pantsuit (besides, how real could she be and still be mistaken for a well-heeled socialite?). And while she’s clearly captivated by his boyish charm, she doesn’t actually appear to care for any of his political beliefs.
Does any of this really matter in an old-fashioned Cinderella story? Not particularly, especially with so many cheery diversions, like the obligatory fashion parade, wherein Marisa, to the joyous strains of “I’m Coming Out,” tries on one fabulous designer frock after another before getting a glamorous makeover (complete with Harry Winston jewels) and heading out to the ball, er, charity dinner. Moments like these keep things lively as the film makes time until the inevitable conclusion. None of it is remotely believable, but chances are, you’ll love it just the same.