Maid In Manhattan

Can Latinos spell “execrable”?

Mistaken identity is the stuff of bad opera and badder film, that’s right—badder. It’s a convention, like stepping in dog shit and shouting an obscenity. An old Baron falls for his young, ostensibly female attendant who’s actually a young male (sung by a castrati), who’s infatuated with the old Baron’s wife, who thinks that she (the he) is really a she (though she’s in love with the he too, maybe) and so on... The aria becomes a duo, the duo a trio, until you can’t tell who’s singing what and whether it’s in German or Italian and its been going on for three hours and you need to take a piss. What’s even more annoying is that mistaken identity plots often end in absurd moralizing. In the final act (tantamount to the last five minutes of a rushed Hollywood film) love conquers all: age, height, weight, class, race, gender and even conscious deception. Thank god that old Nazi Richard Strauss finally died. “Maid in Manhattan” is badder opera by way of baddest hip-hop (“baddest” as in execrable, not as in the Michael Jacksonesque prescriptive grammar sense). J-Lo, she of the large ass and on-again/off-again Latino persona, ex-moll of Puff Daddy (later, in an operatic metamorphosis, P-Diddy), plays a maid. In Manhattan. An environmentally sound, solar-powered light-bulb goes off over some ponytailed guy’s head. “We got the title right there, Frank. Just call the Coast and have marketing punch it up,” he says as he telecommutes from poolside.

Far from poolside, J-Lo works in a large, posh hotel where she encounters senatorial candidate Ralph Fiennes, who, because he’s an utter retard, takes her for a socialite, a fellow guest. So he pursues her. She scrubs stains off the sheets and he woos her. She unclogs his toilet, elbow-deep in his feces... large hunks of salmon from 1000 dollar-a-plate fundraisers... some intact figs from that gift-basket the President sent up. Through it all, he acts like a gentleman and keeps his hands off that billionaire gluteus.
Through a series of ISM’s (incredibly stupid mishaps, another genre convention), he realizes she’s a maid. And because he has a HOG (a heart of gold), and because she’s hot no matter what, he would still deign to cast his ballot in her box. The moral is: It doesn’t matter where you’re from or how much money you have, if you’re attractive, especially exotically multi-ethnically so, an elected official, if given the chance, will fuck you. You can only move up by going down. But with no consummating sex, no popped cherry on top, the whole thing is so Disney, so affirmative (J-Lo is the single parent of an adorable, pan-racial genius), I’d wager that J-Lo was court-ordered to act in it—some community-service time she earned for sitting on one of Puffy’s guns when the 5-0 came around. The only good thing about J-Lo’s acting is that it keeps her from singing. And all I could think about while watching Ralph Fiennes was his terrifying, star-making turn as concentration camp commandant Amon Goeth in “Schindler’s List.” I wanted him to take aim and shoot me in the face. “I’m the Jew, Ralph, over here. Execute me already.” Don’t see “Maid in Manhattan”, ever. And don’t see any movie ever whose title is a pun. And opera is still dead.

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