Maid in Manhattan (2002)

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Released 5-Aug-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romantic Comedy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Dolby Digital Trailer-City
Trailer-Daddy Day Care; Sleepless In Seattle
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 100:58
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (56:06) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Wayne Wang
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Jennifer Lopez
Ralph Fiennes
Natasha Richardson
Stanley Tucci
Bob Hoskins
Tyler Garcia Posey
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Alan Silvestri


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Czech Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Russian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Arabic
Bulgarian
Croatian
Czech
Greek
Hindi
Hungarian
Icelandic
Polish
Romanian
Russian
Serbian
Slovenian
Turkish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    In stark contrast to the previously reviewed Achilles' Love, this film is a polished romantic comedy. Maid in Manhattan stars Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes as the main characters in what is effectively a reworking of several other "rom-coms". It borrows elements from Working Girl and Pretty Woman whilst being fundamentally derived from the eternal Cinderella story.

    Marisa Ventura (Lopez) is a maid in a very upmarket Manhattan hotel. Whilst she is highly dedicated and prides herself on delivering excellent service, she is certainly not servile. Egged on by her closest friend Stephanie, Marisa dons the Dolce & Gabbana outfit of Caroline Lane - a spoiled Sotheby's Director staying at the hotel (played with b****y verve by Natasha Richardson). As might be expected, the fates collude to having another guest at the hotel call on Caroline's room just as Marisa is testing out the haute couture.

    This guest is none other than Assemblyman Chris Marshall (Fiennes), who is immediately smitten by the high-class vision before him. Chris convinces Marisa to accompany him on a dog-walking mission through Central Park and so begins a romantic comedy of errors. Marissa is mistaken as the aspiring Senator's new love interest, and the paparazzi soon have her picture on the front page. Whilst Chris is falling in love with Marisa, she cannot bear to reveal that she is neither wealthy nor sophisticated, but merely a maid in service at his hotel.

    The main sub-plot in the film involves Marisa's relationship with her son and his estranged (and unseen) father. Despite the resigned-to-be-poor attitude of her mother, Marisa wants to improve her station in life to better provide for her son Ty (quite well played by the young Tyler Garcia Posey) and aspires to be a manager at the hotel. She is supported in this quest by a very understated Bob Hoskins as Lionel Bloch, a senior butler who recognises and respects the latent potential within Marisa.

    I will not spoil the ending of the movie for those who have not yet seen it, but as you may suspect there are very few surprises to be found. The ending of the movie is in little doubt after the first reel, and this inevitability is the weakest aspect of this production. Chris falls in love with Marisa after the briefest of meetings, and whilst she is rather pretty, his immediate infatuation is somewhat excessive. Lopez puts in a good solid performance but Fiennes simply 'phones his in - frequently looking slightly embarrassed to be there. There is nothing really new to see in this film. There is nothing here to challenge or offend your sensibilities. It is a cookie-cutter romantic comedy, albeit well filmed, well acted and entertaining enough. It is not, however, in the same league as Pretty Woman, and Fiennes and Lopez do not generate anywhere near as much as chemistry as Julia Roberts and Richard Gere managed in the earlier movie.

    Interestingly, the screenplay is credited to one Edmond Dantes - in reality this is a pseudonym for one John Hughes. Hughes has turned out some variable product in his time from the excellent Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Planes, Trains and Automobiles to the very mediocre Dennis the Menace. Presumably he was less than happy with having himself associated with Maid in Manhattan, although I do not see why. Whilst this film is a little derivative, it does provide some inoffensive family entertainment. It's not going to win him any Oscars, but I certainly wouldn't consider it an embarrassment. Recommended viewing for when you need to feel good and don't want to think too hard about sub-texts and deeper meanings.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality of this transfer is very good, but falls just shy of reference quality. Given that the film is so recent, this is perhaps to be expected, nevertheless, it is always good to see such care taken with any movie.

    This video transfer is wonderfully sharp throughout. The transfer has a very filmic look with little in the way of grain. It is presented 16x9 enhanced with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 which is very close to the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1.

    Few of the scenes are filmed in low light conditions, so shadow detail and black levels do not play a significant role in the transfer. Where needed however, both are extremely good with solid blacks and no low-level noise evident. Colours are well saturated and very cleanly rendered - this is a generally sparkling transfer, and scenes such as the shots in Central Park have a crystal clarity which makes you feel like you are there rather than watching a film. Despite having lively vibrant colours throughout, there is no hint of colour bleeding. Skin tones look clean and natural.

    The transfer has no MPEG artefacts. On my set-up there is absolutely no sign of aliasing or shimmer with the image consistently rock solid. For such a sharp transfer it is pleasing to note that edge enhancement is usually very minor. It is sporadically present as a halo around some foreground characters (for example Caroline at 13:13 and Chris at 36:28) but I never found it to be overly distracting. Telecine wobble is not evident.

    As far as film artefacts go, the transfer is generally clean with only the smallest of flecks and specks making a rare appearance.

    There are fifteen subtitle tracks to choose from. I sampled the English subtitles and found them to be clear, well timed and true to the on-screen dialogue.

    The disc is dual layered with the layer change cropping up at 56:06. This is at the very end of a shot, just before a scene change and whilst noticeable is reasonably well placed.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The overall audio transfer is very good and without significant flaw.

    The sole English audio track is a Dolby Digital 5.1 beast encoded at the full bitrate of 448 kbps.

    The sound is very clean throughout, with no pops, clicks or drop-outs to be heard. Dialogue is always crystal clear and the overall effect is very natural sounding. Audio sync was virtually perfect throughout.

    The original music is credited to the highly accomplished Alan Silvestri (Stuart Little, Forrest Gump and Back to the Future amongst many others) and is a salsa-inspired affair, with some nice acoustic Spanish guitar and crisp, clear percussion. It adds a suitable light Latin ambience to the New York backdrop and is very cleanly delivered on this DVD. Several catchy pop-music numbers crop up during the film, ranging from the funky Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard by Simon and Garfunkel which provides a crystal clear stereo entree to the movie, to more mellow Norah Jones tunes during the slushier moments.

    Being a dialogue driven piece, there is little in the way of effects to give the surrounds and subwoofer a workout. The surrounds do see some use however, to support the musical score and occasionally provide a bolster for the environmental effects such as traffic noise and birds tweeting. The soundstage is occasionally enveloping, but in general the front speakers do the lion's share of the work.

    Somewhat expectedly, the subwoofer is almost unused, other than for bass redirection and musical support, depending on your bass management set-up.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Given that this is such a recent release, and is likely to be a must-buy for fans of Lopez, I was somewhat surprised by the dearth of substantive extras.

Menu

    The menu consists of various animated scenes of the main characters accompanied by the musical score. It provides the options of playing the movie, audio and subtitle selections, choosing one of twenty-eight chapter stops, or playing the meagre special features.

Trailers

    A selection of trailers are available:

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This disc appears to be very similar to the Region 1 offering. The Region 1 version does provide an additional 1.33:1 version of the movie (badly cropped by all accounts) and some different trailers. Substantially however, it is the same as the Region 4 offering and there appears to be little to separate them.

Summary

    Maid In Manhattan will never win any awards for innovation, but for fans of either J-Lo or romantic comedies, it provides a suitable evening's entertainment. The plot borrows heavily from numerous films that precede it, but it follows the recipe for a serviceable romantic comedy very closely. Whilst it could be dismissed as a "chick flick", it is nevertheless watchable by all the family and, as inoffensive Hollywood entertainment, provides a satisfying snack which won't fill you up between more substantial films.

    The video quality is very good although it falls short of reference standard due to some sporadic edge enhancement.

    The audio transfer is technically good and very clean throughout.

    The extras are minimal.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Sunday, July 20, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDHarmony DVD Video/Audio PAL Progressive, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX-47P500H 47" Widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Martin F (read my bio)

Comments (Add)
Re: PAL vs NTSC -
J-Lo putting in a good performance - yeah right! - REPLY POSTED
while we're on the subject... - orangecat (my kingdom for a decent bio)