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Film / Maid in Manhattan

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Maid in Manhattan is a 2002 Romantic Comedy directed by Wayne Wang, and starring Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes. The story was written by John Hughes, using the pseudonym Edmond Dantes.

Marisa Ventura (Lopez) is a single mother raising her son Ty (Tyler Posey) and working as a maid at the upscale Beresford Hotel in New York City. While Marisa and fellow maid Stephanie (Marissa Matrone) are cleaning the room of wealthy socialite Caroline Lane (Natasha Richardson), Stephanie convinces Marisa to try on an expensive outfit. Meanwhile, handsome, up-and-coming senatorial candidate Christopher Marshall (Fiennes) meets and befriends Ty, and they go to ask Marisa if Ty can go walking Marshall's dog in the park. Seeing Marisa in the expensive outfit, Marshall assumes that she is Caroline, and becomes attracted to her. She, likewise, becomes attracted to him. The two become entangled, but inevitably, sooner or later the real Caroline and the hotel management will find out what's going on...

Trope Namer of Mage in Manhattan, although the film does not exhibit said trope in any form.

The film is likely best known for outperforming Star Trek: Nemesis in their shared opening week, which was such an embarrassment to the Star Trek franchise that it killed the chances for any more films until J. J. Abrams' reboot series.

This film provides examples of:

  • A Lighter Shade of Gray: Caroline is (initially) kind and polite toward Marissa, especially in comparison to her Rich Bitch friend, Rachel. However, it's made pretty clear that even she sees Marisa as nothing more than a lower class citizen performing Ethnic Menial Labor. This is made exaggeratingly apparent when she is unable to recognize Marissa in her evening outfit and necklace. After all...
    Caroline: I mean, where would a maid get that necklace?
  • Alliterative Title: Maid in Manhattan.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Marisa's mother seems to thinks so, discouraging her from applying her for a management position and blasting her for pursuing a relationship with Chris.
  • Artistic License: A business version. Marisa finds another housekeeping job quite quickly, which is highly unlikely given why she was fired from her last one, not to mention the ensuing public scandal.
  • Beauty Inversion: Attempted, by putting Jennifer Lopez in a maid's uniform and pulling her hair back into a ponytail or bun. Although she's still gorgeous, the improvement when she puts on a ball gown is noticeable.
  • Beneath Notice: Rich Christopher doesn't recognize Marisa the woman he's falling in love with is the same one that cleans his bathroom, something she calls him out for when the gig is up.
  • Big Applesauce: The film is set in New York. It's right there in the title.
  • Bilingual Backfire: Christopher and Marisa are gossiped about by two elderly Frenchwomen while sharing the elevator with them. He then pulls this trope by addressing them in French, much to their dismay—they call him a "pig", even though he has politely invited them to join them for a walk.
  • Bitch Alert:
    • Rachel Hoffberg, Caroline's BFF, who makes a number of borderline racist comments at Marisa.
    • Marisa's mother. She means well, but she's a bit too judgemental.
  • Brainless Beauty: Caroline is very attractive, but something of a flake who's utterly oblivious to the fact that Christopher is completely uninterested in her.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Marisa is shown to be an exemplary employee who is being considered for a management position. The one time she breaks the rules—trying on a guest's clothes—it kicks off a chain of events that results in her being fired and hounded by the press regarding her relationship with Chris.
  • Charity Ball: Chris invites Marisa to a museum benefit, after which they consummate their relationship.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The beautiful Harry Winston wreath necklace that Marisa wears at the ball is what gets her caught. Caroline admires it on the ballgown wearing socialite that she meets at the ball—and recognizes it on the sweatshirt-wearing woman she sees sneaking out of Chris's room the next morning, since Marisa doesn't dare take it off for fear of losing it.
  • Cinderella Plot: Marisa, a hotel maid (Cinderella) falling in love with Christopher, a Senatorial candidate staying at her hotel (the Prince), hampered by Caroline and Rachel, two ditzy socialites who also have their eye on him (the Wicked Stepsisters), discouraged by her mother (the Wicked Stepmother), aided by her coworkers (the Fairy Godmother), with everything culminating at a glamorous fundraiser (the Ball).
  • Clark Kenting: No one who knows Marisa under one identity recognizes her in the other even though all that changes are her clothes—Chris doesn't recognize the Dolce & Gabbana-clad socialite as the woman who was cleaning his bathroom the day before (granted, he only saw her briefly), her own boss doesn't recognize her (again, granted, she's wearing sunglasses and keeps her face turned away so as to avoid this) and neither does anyone else, despite her picture being on the front page of the newspaper by the next day—her BFF Stephanie needs to be told by Marissa herself that it's her. Caroline's the only one who comes even remotely close, and even she can't figure it out, despite having met Marissa several times before their encounter at the ball.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Caroline offers to buy Chris lunch:
    Chris: Caroline, the first lunch was a mistake. A second would be complete torture.
    Caroline: Drinks, then?
  • Compressed Hair: Marissa is able to keep her waist-length hair tied up in a tight bun whenever she's working.
  • Control Freak: Jerry, to the point that he flips out whenever Chris is out of his sight—Chris has to snap at him about wanting to use the bathroom for a few minutes.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: The jewellery lady tells Ty that if Marissa loses the expensive gold choker he will be "put up for adoption while my Mom rots in prison".
  • Disappeared Dad: Ty's father is not in the picture. As if a phone call in which he cancels plans to take Ty away for the weekend isn't enough of a hint, his failure to show up at Ty's school for a performance solidifies the fact that he's a deadbeat.
  • Ethnic Menial Labor: The maids are mostly black and Latino.
  • Evil Brit: Caroline is portrayed with a British accent. Ironically, Marisa's love interest, Christopher Marshall, is played by British actor Ralph Fiennes.
  • The Ghost: Marcus, Ty's father. Also Eric, Caroline's ex-boyfriend.
  • Identity Impersonator: After Chris assumes Marisa is Caroline, she keeps pretending to be her to keep seeing Chris.
  • Irony: While gushing about Marissa to Jerry, Chris cites among her many attributes that "she isn't a phony", completely unaware that she's been lying (albeit inadvertently) about her identity.
  • It Has Been an Honor: Lionel to Marissa after she's fired and he quits in disgust.
  • Kids Play Matchmaker: At the end of the movie, Ty goes to Chris' press conference to encourage him to talk to Marisa and give her another chance. Also he's the one who brings Marisa and Chris together the first time.
  • Love at First Sight: Essentially Chris and Marisa's reaction when they meet.
  • Makeover Fairy: Marissa is made over for the party by an army of hotel employees we otherwise don't see because Marissa is a maid and therefore works in a different department.
  • Makeover Montage: Marisa's preparation for the ball, complete with a Costume-Test Montage.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: In a sense, Steph works as a platonic version of this for Marissa.
  • Mighty Whitey: Marissa's mother seems to think of Chris as this.
  • My Beloved Smother: Marissa's mother, who wants to hold her child back and condescendingly discourages her from applying for a management position, as well as from pursuing a relationship with Chris.
  • Naked People Are Funny: There's a gag with one of the guests being a Home Nudist who's called Mr. Mounty. When Marisa and Stephanie accidentally walk in on him, they're more amused than offended and later joke to themselves that he's "no big deal".
  • Nice to the Waiter: A measuring stick for most of the characters - Rachel is a bitch to Marissa, even going so far as to assume that she doesn't speak English. Caroline is much nicer, but still clearly views her as little more than a servant. Even Chris gets blasted for this when Marissa points out that he was completely oblivious to her the first time they met, when she was cleaning his bathroom, but noticed her instantly when she was dressed up in a Dolce & Gabbana coat.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Christopher is essentially a Republican version of John Kennedy, Jr.—mentions of him being the 3rd or 4th member of his family to seek political office, him seeking the very office his father held, the paparazzi constantly hounding him, etc. And a tabloid snapshot of him and his girlfriend's relationship-ending argument, as well as the press snapping photos of his and Marisa's spat seems very reminiscent of a fight Kennedy and then-fiancee Carolyn Bessette had in New York's Washington Square Park.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: At one point during Chris Marshall's conference in response to the scandal with Marisa, Ralph Fiennes' British accent can be heard slipping out.
  • Old Maid:
    • Caroline and Stephanie are clearly worried that they're approaching this point.
    • Rachel appears to be in complete denial that she is already past her prime, though her single status might stem from her bitchiness.
  • One-Hour Work Week: The movie tries to avert this. Marisa and the other maids are frequently seen at work, and when she leaves for her trip to the Met, she has Lionel make sure her shift is covered. Her disappearing to take a walk with Chris is still unaccounted for, but it's assumed Marisa used up her presumed one-hour work break.
  • Paparazzi: A major problem for Chris, constantly following him around. And for Marissa too, once the relationship is discovered, a throng of them are waiting outside her house when she leaves for the day.
  • The Place: The film is titled after Manhattan, the New York borough where the story takes place.
  • Princess for a Day: Marisa is a retelling of Cinderella, so she gets her fancy ball with a handsome prince - an hunky politician, in the US.
  • Rags to Riches: Marisa marries Christopher and becomes the hotel's manager.
  • Sassy Black Woman: One of Marissa and Steph's co-workers.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: Chris and Marisa embrace and sink from view. The camera then pans down from a rosy dawn over the New York City skyline to find the two in bed, clearly post-coital.
  • Shaking Her Hair Loose: Marissa when she and Chris are about to sleep together.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Marisa is treated as a Head-Turning Beauty once she's out of her maid clothes.
  • Spicy Latina: Marisa is an aversion, although she is quite outspoken when sassing back the bitchy sales assistant and calling out Jerry for his lack of touch with the people of Bronx.
  • Teeny Weenie: After a hotel guest "accidentally" exposes himself to Marissa and Stephanie, they subtly mock him by saying it's "no big deal" while Marisa holds her index finger and thumb very close together.
  • Truth in Television:
    • Wearing a guest's clothes is a legitimate sackable offense, with no warning; it doesn't matter if the clothes were about to be returned to the store or not. It's highly unlikely Marissa would have been able to find another housekeeping job, and as quickly as she did, given both her actions and the ensuing public scandal.
    • The scene where a guest exposes himself to Marisa and Stephanie becomes a lot less funny with the revelation that maids often have to deal with this kind of behavior.
  • Uptown Guy: Wealthy senator candidate, Kennedy-Expy Christopher, falls in love with a Bronx-native hotel maid, Marisa.
  • Was It All a Lie?: Upon confronting Marissa after learning who she really is, Chris asks, "Was any of it real?", referring to their fling. (her dishonesty has left him wondering if he's been the victim of an elaborate prank).
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: A handful of magazine covers reveal that Marisa has become a hotel manager, Christopher has won the Senate seat, the pilfering Frenchwomen have been arrested, and that one year later, Chris and Marisa are "going strong".
  • Whole-Plot Reference: To Cinderella, with all the appropriate expies—Marisa (Cinderella), Chris (The Prince), Caroline and Rachel (the Wicked Stepsisters), the museum benefit (the Ball), Marisa's coworkers (the Fairy Godmother)
  • Winning Over the Kids: Chris Marshall impresses Marissa by advising Ty on how to overcome his fear of public speaking.