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Film review: Maid in Manhattan

"Maid in Manhattan" is so bland and utterly forgettable that it might as well have been titled "Generic Jennifer Lopez Romantic Comedy."

Those who are looking for something soft, fluffy and inconsequential might be pleased, but for everyone else, this film is the cinematic equivalent of cotton candy. And it's not particularly good cotton candy either.

Worse, for a comedy, it's not really very funny. And compounding problems is an absolute lack of chemistry between J-Lo and her co-star, the increasingly charisma-challenged Ralph Fiennes.

So in retrospect, maybe the film really is funny — just in the wrong way.

Lopez stars as the title character, Marisa Ventura, a hard-working, room-service employee at a glitzy New York City hotel. Marisa is also a single mother who loves her whip-smart son (Tyler Posey), and who dreams of of job advancement.

She also dreams of happiness, which may come sooner than she thinks. Senatorial candidate Christopher Marshall (Fiennes) has come to stay at her hotel. And thanks to a chance meeting, the two are smitten with each other.

However, there's a mix-up when he believes she's actually socialite Caroline Sinclaire (Natasha Richardson), who is staying at the hotel. (When they met, Christopher sees Marisa wearing Caroline's expensive clothes.)

If that isn't bad enough, it seems Marisa really does have a chance at becoming part of hotel management. The catch is, she may have to choose between that and the playboy politician.

The film's central conflict of love-vs.-career isn't nearly as interesting as the filmmakers believe it to be (no one could possibly be surprised by the film's resolution).

And while Lopez at least gives a little more effort here than she has in some of her more recent work (such as the ironically titled "Enough"), during her scenes with Fiennes she appears to be ready to laugh in his face.

Of the cast, the only actors who really register are young Posey as Marisa's son and Stanley Tucci, who provides the film's few laughs with his supporting turn as a panicky campaign manager.

"Maid in Manhattan" is rated PG-13 for scattered use of strong profanity, crude sex talk and some sexual humor, fleeting male nudity and brief sexual contact. Running time: 103 minutes.


E-MAIL: jeff@desnews.com