Sunday, February 28, 2016

Maid in Manhattan

Year 8, Day 59 - 2/28/16 - Movie #2,260

BEFORE: Ralph Fiennes carries over from "The Invisible Woman", and I admit that I only recorded this to fill up a DVD with tomorrow's film, that's my excuse anyway, but it also provides the link to tomorrow's film and allows the end of the romance chain to be in sight, if I can just suffer through this one first.  But hey, it's finally Oscar time, so today I've got the twice-nominated Ralph Fiennes, along with Jennifer Lopez, who was nominated for "Worst Actress of the Decade" at the Razzie Awards in 2010.  But hey, Stanley Tucci was nominated for an Oscar once, right?

Here's the TCM "31 Days of Oscar" line-up for tomorrow, Feb. 29:
Kay Francis carries over from "One Way Passage" to:
"Always in My Heart" with Russell Arms carrying over to:
"Captains of the Clouds" with Clem Bevans carrying over to:
"The Yearling" with Henry Travers carrying over to:
"Dragon Seed" with Akim Tamiroff carrying over to:
"The Corsican Brothers" with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. carrying over to:
"Flight Commander" with Richard Barthelmess carrying over to:
"Only Angels Have Wings" with Rita Hayworth carrying over to:
"The Strawberry Blonde" with George Tobias carrying over to: 
"The Hunchback of Notre Dame" with Charles Laughton carrying over to:
"Young Bess" with Norma Varden carrying over to: 
"Random Harvest"

I've only seen one of these films, "Only Angels Have Wings", but clearly TCM's not running the best stuff tomorrow.  Looks like mostly films about flying airplanes during wartime.  I'll wager they're sort of scraping bottom by now, and just looking for a way to link to "Citizen Kane" and "Spartacus" and get to the end. I certainly know that feeling.  So now I'm up to 102 films seen, 228 unseen, with 7 on the list.

THE PLOT:  A senatorial candidate falls for a hotel maid, thinking she is a socialite when he sees her trying on a wealthy woman's dress.

AFTER: A few weeks ago, after researching "Pretty in Pink" and "She's Having a Baby", I found out this film's screenplay was written by John Hughes, but under the pseudonym of "Edmond Dantes", the name of the exiled Count of Monte Cristo.  He also wrote the "Beethoven" films and "Drillbit Taylor" under the same pen name, so clearly he as not proud of his later works.

This is really a thinly-veiled version of "Cinderella" - but you can hear the thought process that led to this attempt to please focus groups: "What if Cinderella were a single mother?  And Hispanic?" And then you follow the logic, and Prince Charming becomes a rich politician, and the stepsisters end up as two weird French ladies who steal towels and shampoo.  At some point, one has to realize that the script is running out of control.  

And it's not that this is a BAD film (OK, maybe it is) but it just seems so horribly misguided.  And the plot has to contort itself horribly in order to set up the case of mistaken identity.  What maid, honestly, would even consider taking time out from her busy workday to try on a hotel guest's clothes?  And then to take more time out from her workday to go on a long walk in the park, and then visit the Central Park Zoo - doesn't anyone at the hotel realize she's missing for over an hour?  

I kept waiting for her to be fired for being such a bad employee - and yet there's also the suggestion that she's somehow management material.  As if!  Of course, eventually her misdeeds catch up with her and she loses her job, she even drags a few other employees down with her, so really, she's a horrible person.  The fairy-tale equivalent would have the prince executing the guards who let a commoner come to his ball in disguise.  But of course, the prince didn't do that, and similarly, once the politician finds out that the woman he loves is really a maid, he's fine with that.  Or is he just saying that to avoid a tabloid scandal?  Because if you found out that a candidate slept with the maid at his hotel, come on, you'd be a little wary of that guy.

The contrivances never seem to end here - the kid who's afraid of public speaking, but just happens to be an expert on the 1970's and Richard Nixon.  Come on, how many kids these days know more about U.S. Presidents than Pokemon characters?  And the whole thing with the dog never goes anywhere, it's clearly there just to set up the need to go for a walk.  Everything's so damn obvious.

The film's name isn't even a pun!  What the heck is "Maid in Manhattan" supposed to be a riff on?  If the film was set in Tokyo, then "Maid in Japan" would work, because "Made in Japan" is a real saying. Jeez, even "Maid in New York" would work better than what they ended up with.  The title of that Patrick Dempsey film, "Made of Honor" makes more sense than this.  The working titles for this film included "The Chambermaid" and "Uptown Girl", and that last one at least would have had a double meaning.  

The worst sin, however, is being a romance film that gives no insight whatsoever into the rules of attraction or relationships.  He sees her once, dressed in a beautiful outfit, and falls in love.  From then on he pursues her, but he can't quite recognize her when she's in the same room, dressed in her maid's uniform.  Honey, I've got bad news, I think he's in love with the fancy clothes, not you.

Also starring Jennifer Lopez (last heard in "Ice Age: Continental Drift"), Stanley Tucci (last seen in "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters"), Natasha Richardson (last seen in "Fat Man and Little Boy"), Bob Hoskins (last heard in "A Christmas Carol"), Frances Conroy (last seen in "Another Woman"), Tyler Posey, Chris Eigeman, Amy Sedaris (last seen in "Six Days Seven Nights"), Marissa Matrone, Priscilla Lopez.

RATING: 3 out of 10 security cameras

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