Summary: Maid in Manhattan is the story of a working class, single mom falling in love with a rich senatorial candidate and being lifted out of her desperate situation. But first, she must dress up in fancy, stolen clothes and pretend to be a rich person. Oh, and there’s a dog.
Verdict: Rage and Frustration. Between JLo going along with this sure-to-fail ruse (while also being monumentally stupid about it at the same time) and Voldemort’s refusal to take the hint or take no for an answer, we were banging our heads against a wall by the end of this garbage.
Full Recap: In the first few minutes of this movie, we learn a lot about the main character, Marisa, played by Jennifer Lopez. She’s a single mom with a son named Ty. She works as a maid in a fancy hotel. Her kid’s dad is absentee. She has crappy self-esteem, but she’s beloved among her coworkers and good at her job. Among her skills: wound bandaging, lavender placing, pantyhose buying, and grade A sass.
Meanwhile, our romantic male lead is Christopher Marshall, a senatorial candidate who just broke up with his fiancé and subsequently moves into the hotel where Marisa works. Christopher Marshall is also played by the same actor who played Voldemort.
The first major occurrence is Ty’s big school speech on Richard Nixon, in an auditorium with all the parents watching. He gets nervous and runs off stage before finishing, and after Marisa comforts him, she takes him to the hotel to hang out while she works.
Marisa’s workday starts out pretty normally. Her friends try to convince her to apply to a management position, but she doesn’t think she would get it so why try? Then they go about their job. At the same time, Ty wanders off to explore the hotel and runs into Voldemort. Because he is a completely normal child, Ty engages Voldemort in a rousing discussion of politics and Richard Nixon. Voldemort is unsurprisingly impressed by the child prodigy who is wandering around the hotel with no apparent parental supervision.
During this interaction Voldemort/prodigy interaction, Marisa and her friend start to clean the Park Suite, which is currently occupied by a woman named Caroline who has done nothing to Marisa except ask her to buy pantyhose and get her name wrong. Marisa’s friend convinces her to try on Caroline’s $5000 white outfit, and Marisa the wet towel obviously goes on with this since she has temporarily misplaced her own will.
Just after Marisa gets the outfit on, Ty brings Voldemort to the Park Suite, and it’s obviously love at first sight for both parties. Together with Ty and Voldemort’s dog, they go for a walk in the park and then to the zoo. Voldemort moons after Marisa and bonds with Ty over their fear of public speaking. Thus begins a beautiful romance built entirely on lies.
Let’s take a moment to count the lies that Marisa tells Voldemort (and brings her kid in on):
- That she’s rich
- That she is staying in the Park Suite
- That her name is Caroline
- That she’s only in town for work
The fact that she tells all these lies to a person whose room she cleans on a regular basis while taking a stolen $5000 pure white outfit for a spin is stupid enough on its own. However, the stupidity is compounded exponentially by the HUGE number of paparazzi following Voldemort around. By the way, the fact that such MASSIVE numbers of paparazzi are spending their days stalking a senatorial candidate is completely ludicrous. That does not happen in real life, we promise.
Maybe she just assumes that the tabloid journalists will decide, out of the goodness of their hearts, not to publish any pictures of her and the inexplicably famous, single Senate candidate.
As they watch the liar penguins swim, Voldemort invites her to a charity event with him, but she declines and says that she and Ty have to leave. Voldemort lets them go, but not before following them out and trying to convince her to stay again. She says no of course, growing a spine for a long enough time to actually leave Voldy for now.
Unfortunately, once back in his suite he is still not taking no for an answer. Instead, he sends “Caroline” an invitation to lunch in his room, viewing this as yet another opportunity to get him to go to the charity event with him. Dude is REALLY focused on this event; if he was this attracted to her you would think that he would try inviting her on a different date. Maybe she just isn’t a charity dinner fan.
Meanwhile, back downstairs, Marisa is called into her boss’s office and informed that she has been chosen for the open manager position and will commence training immediately. Since she never applied, Marisa is surprised. Then she hears that her friend put in an application for her. Marisa naturally flies into a rage and accosts her friend, saying “do you know what you’ve done?!” There’s really no other reason why Marisa shouldn’t be in the applicant pool other than how completely lacking in any sort of confidence she is. Plus, what her friend did got her a new job, presumably with a higher paycheck, which seems like a good thing.
Marisa also freaks out when she sees that a paparazzi photographed the back of her head while she was out with Voldemort. Don’t worry, there are no other pictures from her outing because Marisa’s face is completely photograph-proof.
Back in the Park Suite, the real Caroline gets Voldemort’s message. She goes to lunch, and the movie screams to us that this woman is desperate and therefore “unworthy” so we shouldn’t worry that Caroline is any competition for Marisa. Also, Caroline is blonde, which might as well be the mark of the beast as far as some romcoms are concerned.
To add supposed insult to supposed injury, Marisa is serving Voldemort’s and Caroline’s lunch alongside her mentor, who eventually realizes that Marisa posed as Caroline. Of course, rather than be upset at this breach of trust, he helps her hide it and encourages her to go to the charity ball that night to tell Voldemort it’s over, at least until she makes manager. Her friends then proceed to “borrow” an expensive dress, expensive shoes, and an extremely expensive necklace so Marisa can get all dolled up for her break-up date. They’re basically her larcenous fairy godmothers in this Cinderella story.
Marisa arrives at the ball and immediately tells Voldemort that their relationship can’t continue beyond that night.
Voldemort, being the Dark Lord, responds with: “Then you should have worn a different dress.”
Which translates as: “If you didn’t want a relationship, then you should have looked ugly because I can’t control myself around pretty things.” It’s the “she was asking for it” crap in romantic movie form. It’s the worst “romantic” line in any movie ever.
But Marisa is not us, so she reacts like this:
Meanwhile, Caroline, who is also attending this event, spots Marisa and tries to figure out where she’s seen her. Marisa is totally unconcerned that Caroline is there and stops to chat with her about the signature, one of a kind necklace Marisa’s friend stole for her.
Later, as befits any Cinderella story, Marisa leaves early and
the prince Voldemort chases after her. They stop in front of a romantic fountain, where Marisa, who is clearly upset at this point, starts to tell Voldemort who she really is. But before she can finish her sentence, good old Voldy shuts her up with a kiss. Because the man’s desires are more important than anything a woman has to say.
The next scene then proceeds to cut to Marisa and Voldemort in his hotel room getting ready to have sex. Apparently Marisa was also forbidden from speaking on the car ride there, too.
After her night of passion with Voldemort (and isn’t that a fun image?), Marisa sneaks out of the hotel room without even glancing down the hallway first. If she had looked, she would have seen Caroline and her racist friend watching Marisa leave still wearing the one of a kind diamond necklace that she apparently slept in.
Caroline then figures out that Marisa stole her outfit and brings hotel management into it. During the big confrontation scene, we are supposed to feel angry at Caroline and bad for Marisa, but really, we think this whole scenario is completely justified. If a maid stole your clothes, you’d want her to be fired so she couldn’t do it to other guests, even if she graciously returned the pilfered clothes after her little romp with them. Furthermore, the fact that Caroline thought Marisa’s name was Maria is not a sign of the dismissiveness of the upper class, it’s a sign of the two names being very similar and Marisa being too chickenshit to correct her. In fact, Caroline noticed Marisa more when she was a maid than Voldemort did.
Anyway, the big confrontation occurs, Voldy is scandalized, Marisa is fired, and Caroline is desperate. Then Voldemort follows Marisa out of the hotel to have a loud yelling match about all their problems in front of at least 20 reporters. Neither of them seem the least bit concerned that they’re being recorded for the evening news.
Marisa tells Voldemort that her feelings were always real and she had to give him up but didn’t want to. Then she walks away. For the first time in the movie, and the only time that Marisa has been able to honestly express her feelings, Voldemort doesn’t follow her. Because it’s just not fun anymore when the lady stops protesting.
There’s then a brief scene of Marisa expressing self-confidence to her mother, and we have a montage of how sad Marisa and Voldemort are now that they’re separated. Keep in mind, they only knew each other for a week and only saw each other three times.
We then segue to the final act, and it starts with Ty telling Marisa that Voldemort will be giving a speech at the hotel where Marisa now works. Marisa dismisses the idea of seeing him, which makes sense. So, Ty naturally goes to the event and gives a speech of his own to Voldemort in front of all the press, essentially saying that Voldemort should forgive Marisa. Voldy agrees and follows Ty through the hotel, the reporters hurrying after them. Luckily, Ty has the brilliant idea to lock the door after they get to where Marisa is.
Then, in the big romantic climax, they kiss without verbally resolving anything. But it doesn’t matter because they “started over”! The magazine covers that then spiral onto the screen tell us that they’re ridiculously happy, and all their dreams have come true.
If you’d like to see more of this couple, there’s a telenovela based on the movie. As for us, we’re happy to leave everything to do with this movie far, far behind.