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While I did like MAID IN MANHATTAN ($28) and found it to be a perfect date movie, the all too familiar storyline is evidence that Hollywood is completely bereft of original ideas. MAID IN MANHATTAN is little more than a slightly redressed remake of PRETTY WOMAN, which itself was nothing more than a reworking of the classic Cinderella story. Instead of a hooker ala PRETTY WOMAN, the Cinderella character in MAID IN MANHATTAN is- you guessed it- a chambermaid. Jennifer Lopez stars as Marisa Ventura, a hardworking chambermaid at a posh New York City hotel, who has dreams of making it into hotel management.

Prince Charming comes in the form of Senatorial candidate and playboy Christopher Marshall (Ralph Fiennes), who mistakes Marisa for a guest at the hotel and is immediately smitten. Filling the Fairy Godmother role is none other than Bob Hoskins, who portrays the hotelís Chief Butler Lionel Bloch. Of course, Hoskins is utterly terrific in the small role, making this reviewer wish he had more scenes in the film. In the thankless wicked step-mother/step-sister role is none other than Natasha Richardson as self-absorbed hotel guest Caroline Lane. About the only bit of originality in the story is making Marisa a single mother, with a precocious son named Ty (Tyler Garcia Posey), who definitely has an influence on his motherís upscale romance. The cast of MAID IN MANHATTAN also features Stanley Tucci, Frances Conroy, Chris Eigeman, Amy Sedaris, Marissa Matrone and Priscilla Lopez.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has made MAID IN MANHATTAN available on DVD in a 2.40:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for 16:9 displays. A full screen version is offered on a separate layer of the DVD, but this review will concern itself solely with the correctly framed presentation. Like any brand new "A" production from a major studio, MAID IN MANHATTAN looks truly terrific on DVD. The image is very crisp and serves up plenty of fine detail. Colors are wonderfully vibrant and are reproduced without a sign of noise or smearing. Flesh tones are wholly natural and completely appealing. Blacks are deep, whites are very clean and contrast is perfect. While there arenít any truly dark scenes, shadow detail is good and the picture produces a very nice sense of depth. Digital compression artifacts remain out of sight throughout the presentation.

MAID IN MANHATTAN comes with a very nice sounding Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. Since this is a dialogue driven comedy, the mix isnít particularly elaborate. The forward soundstage tends to dominate, with the surround channels primarily providing ambient and musical fill. Fidelity is very good and the sound designers have managed to come up with a very warm and pleasing sound. Dialogue is always completely understandable and the actorsí voices resonate with a nice natural timbre. The bass channel has little to do, other than supporting the music and keeping the track from sounding anemic. A French language track is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English and French subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVDís interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as several theatrical trailers. Of course, one gets a theatrical trailer for MAID IN MANHATTAN, in addition to that other J.Lo starrer THE WEDDING PLANNER. What I really liked is having theatrical trailers for upcoming movies on this DVD- something that should become a regular part of all DVD releases. Trailers for upcoming films include CHARLIE'S ANGELS: FULL THROTTLE, ANGER MANAGEMENT and DADDY DAYCARE.

While far from original, MAID IN MANHATTAN is the perfect date movie. Columbia TriStar has produced another terrific looking DVD, so those looking for a bit of romance will want to give this disc a spin, as well as those that just enjoy light and frothy comedies.



Maid in Manhattan (2002)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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