What to Drink While Watching “Maid in Manhattan”

Sheen told me a few weeks ago that she was in an “entanglement” with a man in Xxxxxxx, where, as you know, she is sort of chilling out. She refused, in her customarily oblique fashion, to elucidate, and referred me to the movie Maid in Manhattan if I wished to get a better understanding of what she was going through. “See me as Ralph Fiennes”, she said. Now, I had heard of this film, and was vaguely aware of what it was about and that it starred Jennifer Lopez, but I had never had the slightest inclination to actually watch it. Romantic comedy? Ah, since the golden age of Doris Day & Rock Hudson or Sophia Loren & Marcello Mastroianni, has there ever been a good romantic comedy? And don’t get me started on Meg Ryan, Sandra Bullock and co. or this would degenerate into a humungous rant…


So, OK, I thought, I’d sit and watch Maid in Manhattan. Now, there can’t be many films that actually include the name of a cocktail in their title, can there, and seeing as how this category is supposed to be The Movie And The Beverage, I obviously prepared a sizeable pitcher of Manhattan to get through what I (correctly) envisaged to be a torturous viewing session.


The film starts with J-Lo as a hardworking mom struggling to make ends meet, looking after her sweet, gifted but shy little boy. She works as a maid at a posh hotel (guess where?) and has half-hearted plans to become its manager. Naturally, she stands out among her co-workers because she’s (let’s face it) gorgeous and young and the rest are old and fat and ghastly. There’s one of those mistaken-identity moments when Ralph (playing the part of a US senator or something) thinks she’s a rich guest at the hotel and whisks her off her feet. She can’t break it to him that she’s just a working class Latina and he’s so dumb he doesn’t suspect anything and the climax of the film is when he says to her something along the lines of, “I don’t care if you’re a working class Latina, I still love you.” Surprise, surprise, she becomes a hotel manager and he goes on to win an election or something. Class and race barriers are broken down by this momentous enamoramiento like in that silly scene in Love, Actually where Prime Minister Hugh Grant falls for the girl who serves him coffee and biscuits.


The film is riddled with cringifying clichés, as could be expected. My favourite was the Big Dog Moment – Senator Ralph loves his pooch, the pooch loves Jen’s little boy, the boy loves his mom, so…


Ah well. Redeeming features of Maid in Manhattan: Jennifer Lopez always looks good, whether she’s wearing a hotel maid’s uniform, a hotel guest’s designer outfit, or nothing at all. She’s not a great actress, and not a great singer, either, but she’s competent at both. Maybe if she put all her eggs in one basket instead of trying to be the top in both classes, she’d get the recognition she probably deserves, I don’t know. Ralph Fiennes knows his stuff, and I truly wonder why he debased himself to appear in this futile comedy. Can’t have done his career much good, methinks.


(Ah, another thing – I just referred to Ms Lopez as an actress. What is with this use of the word “actor” to refer to females who act? Are we now to say “waiter” for both sexes, too? Is “hostess” to be axed? Does “duke” cover both the duke and the duchess? Some misguided folk claim to believe that the word “actress” is somehow derogatory. Balderdash. If it’s good enough for the Oscars, it’s good enough for you and me. Harrumph.)



Anyway, Sheen said she saw herself as Ralph Fiennes. Does that mean she is having an affair with a penniless proletarian from Xxxxxx? Is she staying at an expensive hotel? Maybe she’s running for the Senate? Perhaps she just has a big dog? 


A word about the Manhattan, I mean the cocktail. Nitpicking snobs will stipulate you use Canadian whiskey but it works fine with Scotch if you don’t have any Canadian lying around. If you really want to snobbish, use “San Pietro 12 Anni”, Vatican Whisky, supposedly made with water from the River Jordan. Next time you stay at a hotel in Manhattan, call room service and demand Jennifer Lopez bring you one in person.

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