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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 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 Trek franchise that it killed the chances for any more films until JJ 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?
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  • 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.
  • Big Applesauce: The film is set in New York. It's right there in the title.
  • Bilingual Backfire: Christopher pulls this on the two elderly French women who are gossiping about him and Marisa. 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.
    • Marissa's mother.
  • Brainless Beauty: Caroline.
  • 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 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.
  • Chick Flick
  • Clark Kenting/Paper-Thin Disguise: 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.
  • 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".
  • Costume-Test Montage/Makeover Montage: Marisa's preparation for the ball.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Jerry.
  • 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.
  • Dumb Blonde: Caroline
  • Ethnic Menial Labor
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Karma Houdini: Hooh boy, Steph. Let's see: the entire mess is her fault, since she convinces Marissa to try on Caroline's clothes and when Chris shows up in the suite it's her who says that Marissa's Caroline. She is never punished for any of this, keeping her job at the hotel, though eventually Marissa becomes her boss.
  • 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.
  • Love at First Sight: Essentially Chris and Marisa's reaction when they meet.
  • 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.
  • 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 is clearly worried that she's approaching this point.
    • Stephanie seems to fear this too.
    • 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: Subverted. While Marissa and the other maids are frequently seen at work, she is able to disappear in the middle of the day to go for a walk with Chris and disappear again on another day to prepare for the ball. Highly unlikely, especially since there's no mention of anyone covering for her.
    • Marisa likely used up her presumed one-hour work break for her outing with Chris. Though considering it looked like it took longer than that, it's also likely that Steph (who became an instant Shipper on Deck) covered for her. And as for Marisa's trip to the Met, Lionel clearly states that he waa going to make sure her shift was covered.
  • 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.
  • Princess for a Day
  • Rags to Royalty: Marisa marries Christopher and becomes the hotel's manager.
  • Raised Catholic: Marisa crosses herself at one point.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Marissa and Caroline.
  • 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: It's Jennifer Lopez so she's already stunning but still...
  • Spanner in the Works: Caroline and Rachel.
  • Spicy Latina:
    • Steph.
    • Marissa is an aversion.
  • 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 Girl: Wealthy, Kennedy-Expy Christopher is a gender-inversion to 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.


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