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John Hughes has been the writing talent behind many of the more memorable movie classics of the 80’s that much of us grew up with including: The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Uncle Buck and Planes, Trains & Automobiles. He brought us into the 90’s with young Kevin McCallister for being Home Alone, and then went on to write family comedy classic Beethoven. Unfortunately the years that followed were not as successful. Hughes was still writing but most of the movies weren’t in the same calibre. Then there were all the sequels, one or two fairly decent attempts but on the whole totally unoriginal and often written by someone else; did you even know a fifth Beethoven and forth Home Alone movie were released?

Maid in Manhattan
Romantic comedy Maid in Manhattan was one of John Hughes recent projects under the pseudonym Edmond Dantès. Boasting a cast that included: Jennifer Lopez, Ralph Fiennes and Bob Hoskins, this was to be a departure from the kiddie/family genre that he’s been residing in for the past few years.

Movie
Marisa (Jennifer Lopez) has lived much of her life in New York City. She’s a single mother and makes a living working for an upmarket hotel as a maid. Her son Ty attends school locally and has recently developed an usually interest in former US president Richard Nixon. Ty’s father is rarely around and regularly lets his son down by not finding the time to attend school recitals and other important events.

The hotel where Marisa works – the Beresford – attracts the occasional high profile and rich guest. One such guest is Caroline Lane who is currently occupying a park view suite. One morning whilst doing the rounds Marisa and fellow maid Stephanie, sneakily try on designer clothing from Caroline’s room. Ty on the other hand is hanging around the hotel for the day and whilst travelling in a lift he meets another hotel guest, one Chris Marshall (Ralph Fiennes). Chris is an up and coming handsome young politician with a playboy personal life and a posse of press photographers hot on his heels. He’s accompanied by slimy PR man Jerry and massive pet dog Rufus. Somehow Ty makes an impression on Chris and they head up to the park view suite to ask Marisa if Ty could go for a walk with them.

Chris turns up at the park view suite with Ty and they see Marisa wearing Caroline’s designer clothing unintentionally giving the impression that she’s a hotel guest rather than a run-of-the-mill maid. Marisa and Chris go out and all appears merry but lies and treachery have a way of catching up – especially where there are cameras.

Maid in Manhattan
I guess I’m giving away too much by saying this, but it should be obvious to anyone watching this movie - from the beginning - that it is essentially a modern day cross between a Cinderella and a Pretty Woman storyline. It’s unoriginal and very predictable. Quite how Lopez manages to be so good at picking movies that turn out so mediocre is somewhat baffling. Lopez and Fiennes just don’t seem to have chemistry between them. It’s a real shame that an actor like Bob Hoskins is given such a minor role in this movie; he really does add an element of class that could have been so much more.

Video
The video transfer is framed in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen and benefits from being modern. Strong blacks and good colour saturation is evident. I could see no evidence of compression artefacts. It’s a practically perfect presentation.

Audio
The soundtrack is provided as a Dolby Digital 5.1 track in English, Spanish and French. There are no noticeable problems with the audio; in fact it’s almost perfect. Maid in Manhattan is of course a dialogue focused movie but since a significant part of the movie is shot outdoors, good use is made of the surround speakers. The musical part of the soundtrack is varied though use of certain performances such as one of the Nora Jones tracks lacked subtlety. It felt like it was placed there for commercial rather than artistic reasons – which I guess most are these days.

Extras
Four trailers, one of Maid in Manhattan, another for Anger Management, then there’s the awful Charlie’s Angles: Full Throttle (which makes good use of the sound system I might add) and finally Eddie Murphy’s Daddy Day Care. Those are the only extras.

Maid in Manhattan
Overall
This is a barebones DVD release for a movie that didn’t do well at the cinema. I personally thought it was a reasonably entertaining movie to watch the first time around but it doesn’t quite feel the same this time – somewhat mediocre. The story is completely unoriginal so there are no surprises along the way. The video transfer and audio soundtrack are essentially perfect but it’s a pity nothing else was afforded in the form of extra features. The region one release had both a pan and scan, and a proper widescreen transfer plus an extra trailer squashed onto a single disc, they could have made use of the extra space for this region 2 widescreen only release.

Overall if you like either of the lead actors or are a fan of romantic comedies but haven’t seen this movie then I would recommend this DVD. Otherwise you’re probably best to stay away or you will be disappointed.


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