Matthew Lickona 2:57 p.m., May 17
Maid in Manhattan
Can Jennifer Lopez be Pretty Womanized? The question does not ask whether she can be America's Sweetheart (which, owing to her career choices to date, and despite the cuteness of her giggle, her nose-scrunch, her accent, etc., seems very much out of the question), but rather whether she can have a mega-hit on the scale of Julia Roberts. This question will chiefly be of interest to her business manager, her accountant, her agent, her publicist, perhaps her psychiatrist. The legitimate interest, meantime, of the critic and the casual moviegoer is the simple question of whether she can make a good movie, more exactly a movie concerned with something other than flattering its star. (Of course she made one of those, Blood and Wine, but that was before she became a star.) This particular Cinderella story casts her as a single-mom housekeeper at the four-star Beresford Hotel, with aspirations to a management position, but suddenly in jeopardy of losing everything after she tries on the Dolce & Gabbana pantsuit in the closet of the Park Suite, and the dishy and highly eligible State Assemblyman -- Ralph Fiennes -- from the York Suite down the hall walks in on her and takes her for a lady. (Nothing in her daily hairdo and makeup could give her away.) Complications, as you can all too well imagine, ensue. For flattery, she has her own cheering section among her co-workers, and she has the compliment, "It's perfect," aimed in the direction of her renowned back bumper. Suspense is not heightened a millimeter by the identification of the politico as a Republican. "What's the difference these days?" pipes up the heroine's precocious ten-year-old. The real question of the movie is what on earth the director of The Joy Luck Club, not to mention stuff like The Center of the World and Smoke and Slamdance, Wayne Wang, thinks he is up to. Or to ask it another way: how many pop songs on the soundtrack can self-deceit accommodate? With Natasha Richardson, Stanley Tucci, Bob Hoskins. 2002.
— Duncan Shepherd
- Rated PG-13