SYTYCR Round 1.9: Eyes Wide Open VS. Loki Laufeyson (MAID IN MANHATTAN)

by Nick Jobe · July 19, 2012 · So You Think You Can Review · 16 Comments

I’ll be honest yet again… the results of that last battle shocked me. Not at the winner, but that it was such a decisive winner. I figured there would be much more of a battle there. Anyway, congrats goes out to Fox Mulder, who will move on to the next round! And we have officially made it halfway through Round 1! For this next battle, we move from classic to modern-day ‘eh’ with romantic comedy, Maid in Manhattan. Read, vote, comment, enjoy! You have until Saturday. Below is the updated bracket. Click to make it bigger.

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Review #1
By Eyes Wide Open
G’day fellow Lambs, I was very excited to join this challenge with all the anonymity involved. I sent in my submission E-Mail and not too long afterwards I received my first movie and my heart sank. Maid in Manhattan. Gritting my teeth while my wife reveled in joy we sat down and endured the movie. That’s not to say that there weren’t any enjoyable moments in the movie, it did make me chuckle a few times but for the most part it was an absurd and yet still somehow cliched chick flick. Every person in the movie is a one-note character that has little to no personality or merely exists as a feeble attempt at comic relief.
“The obigatory ‘happy dance’ scene with the two sassy black chicks who essentially have one line ‘Mmm hmm’.”
This movie is essentially a modern retelling of the Cinderella fairy tale. Or more specifically, it’s a combination of a Cinderella story and every generic chick flick ever made. Marisa is a maid in a big hotel who meets the princely senatorial candidate under false pretenses. They fall in love, she continues her lies even though she has ample opportunities to set things straight, and as in most romantic comedies, things fall apart before having the obligatory happy ending. There are some major differences though, most of the Cinderella versions I have seen make her out to be a strong character that is in a bad situation. But in this movie, Marisa doesn’t believe in herself. She doesn’t take the initiative to put in her application to become a manager, her feisty friend does. She doesn’t think she belongs with the upper class, she thinks she should remain in her current station in life. It’s only her son and her friends that push her forward.
One other problem I have with this movie is that it takes so long to get started. It spends way too long setting up Marisa’s life before getting to the heart of the story, and it doesn’t paint it in a poor light at all. She has a stable job and a loving son, the only real negative is that she has a deadbeat ex-husband who doesn’t come to his son’s recital and is never heard about again through the entire movie. There doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with her life until she steps into the shoes, and clothes, of a self-obsessed socialite “stepsister” who waits much longer to metaphorically rip the dress off of her as in the Disney version. Much of the rest of the movie is how she comedically avoids being found out by such methods as hiding behind a pitcher of water.
The big “royal ball” scene starts out with the fairy godmother being played by essentially the entire maid staff and friends. But it doesn’t explain why any of them would risk their jobs just so she could go on a date with a senator. In fact the woman that gives her the expensive diamond necklace was in a scene earlier in the movie where she was berated by Marisa for talking on the phone rather than serving a customer. It really didn’t make any sense that she would help Marisa at all, and she would especially never trust a 7 year old boy with those diamonds. Several of the other helpers never even had any lines. And she is shown loyalty from Bob Hoskins shortly afterwards when he quits in solidarity with her, though he never showed any dislike of the job, he was at no risk of being let go himself, and offers a very vague reason as to why he quit. It didn’t make any sense, it didn’t enhance the story of the movie in any way, it just seemed like such an odd choice.
“I like Ralph Fiennes as an actor, but you can’t tell me that is not a really creepy looking smile.”
The entire movie was just a bunch of googoo eyes with little in the way of actual romance. It would have made more sense to me based on the chemistry in the movie if the guy had fallen in love with the kid. Whenever Marisa was on screen, it felt like most of the time was spent making jokes about her famous rear. There were a handful of funny moments, and I enjoyed Stanley Tucci’s campaign manager character but not a single other thing in the movie clicked with me. If it hadn’t been for this tournament, I would have never watched this movie and it wouldn’t have bothered me a bit. At least I hope you enjoyed reading this because I didn’t much enjoy watching it.
-Eyes Wide Open
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Review #2
By Loki Laufeyson
People always say that romantic comedies are clichéd. But have those people ever wondered why? When two people are together on screen for the sake of our entertainment, there are only so many places in which it can go. In the end, we know that our two lovers are going to end up staying together and supposedly live happily ever after. If the movie is going to get us to some place that a whole lot of other movies have taken us, it sure as hell better give us an exciting journey.
However, most stick to the dull brown brick road. While Maid in Manhattan wants to play out like a modern fairytale, it could have used a little more yellow in the road it travels. And munchkins would have been cool, too.
Jennifer Lopez – back in her ‘Jenny from the block’ days – is our romantic heroine Marisa Ventura, who spends her days looking after her son and working hard for the money as  maid in, well, Manhattan. One day she goofs around and tries on the designer duds that belong to her latest guest, wealthy and slightly airy socialite Caroline (Natasha Richardson), and manages to catch the eye of hotel guest and senatorial candidate Christopher Marshall (Ralph Fiennes). The supposedly smart Christopher doesn’t know that Marisa is really just a lowly maid instead of someone could afford to be drowned in labels. Still, he falls in love with her, and now she has to deal with being followed by the paparazzi who are all interested in the new lady that Christopher’s courting.
In an alternate world where romantic comedies have never been made before, this movie could have been good. However, we live in a world where we might as well have a textbook for romantic comedies sitting on the bookshelf, just so we can tick off all the clichés as we go through the movie. We have lovers who come from very different backgrounds and money; the annoying socialite who comes around and ruins everything; the typical case of mistaken identity; a group of sassy best friends who seem to know everything and be totally air-heads at the same time; a dramatic makeover that apparently makes the main character unrecognizable; and a fun song at the end to convince us all that we’ve had a good time watching it. Maid in Manhattan sticks to the guidelines in that textbook as if its life depended on it, which makes for somewhat boring viewing.
The other thing that seems to be ever-present in the rom-coms of today is the odour of money. The two lovers that we’re supposed to believe in should be bonded by chemistry, not by a huge pay-check.  Unfortunately, Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes look and act like as much of a match as fire and water. Fiennes is a great actor, but he seems as if he’d rather be somewhere else. The money is obviously keeping him there, though. Lopez does her utmost to make herself likeable, but she falls into being the cookie-cutter female romantic lead. Natasha Richardson has fun with her nothing role, as does the ever-dependable Stanley Tucci. Despite meddling success, I do have to commend everyone’s efforts: with a script like that, it’s pretty impressive that people could actually force out such a bore.
Maid in Manhattan’s heart is in the right place, though. Marisa’s son, Ty (Tyler Posey), seems to have a far more interesting relationship with Christopher than she does. In fact, I’d rather a The King’s Speech-esque spin-off with him in it. Unfortunately, the people around him can’t muster up that much interest.
I think we’ve come too far in the film industry to pretend that clichéd stuff like this is lively and that people are trying to rise above their pay-check when faced with such a boring screenplay. Still, there are a few hopeless romantics out there who like to have this artificial sugar taste in their mouth. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them.
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Now Vote!

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16 Responses to SYTYCR Round 1.9: Eyes Wide Open VS. Loki Laufeyson (MAID IN MANHATTAN)

  1. LifeVsFilm says:

    Nick, how could you be so cruel as to assign this film? Have you no decency? My heart goes out to these two reviewers.

    Personally, I preferred Loki’s review. It seemed more informed, and was less of a list of the film’s problems. It was a close one though.

    • Nick says:

      Haha… this isn’t the worst film I have on this list, either.

    • Nolahn says:

      Actually, I think this tourney should be a little more indecent.

      Okay, let’s not stuff it with BAD movies (though given the scope of my site, I’d clearly enjoy that), but I do think this tourney should include more mediocre/critically mixed films like this one (reviews for MAID IN MANHATTAN seem to be pretty middle-of-the-road). I think it’ll give the reviewers different ways to approach the film, and we’ll get to read something more than gushing over undisputed classics.

    • Nick says:

      Well, I still have Eraserhead and The Room coming up…

    • Joel Burman says:

      I agree with Nolahn, everyone can write about a classic the real test is more godwafulish stuff. =) I think there can be a focus on lesser/more guilty pleasurish films in upcoming tournaments. However, one wonder what film gets be the final showdown???

    • Nick says:

      Yeah, for this first go-around with the tournament, I wanted a balance of everything. I also didn’t want a lot of complaints that there weren’t enough classics represented. But trust me when I say there are more controversial-to-mediocre films still to come, classics or otherwise. It just so happened the majority of people in round 1 chose a huge chunk of ultra-classics. And–spoiler alert–I’ve already seen one review for Round 2 that is so controversially awesome I’m afraid the LAMB is going to explode.

      Joel: I, too, am curious what will end up in the final showdown!

    • Joel Burman says:

      I would really like this to be done at least once a year and would be kind of cool if the different rounds had fixed genres/subgenres and it would be cool to always have the same final film. =)

    • Nick says:

      It’s not really possible, to me, or fair to focus on one particular genre or to have the same final film. There’s a lot more complication on my end than most people might realize. For instance, not only do I draw films randomly, but I have to make sure each site I drew it for has never reviewed the film–this cuts down on the issue of reusing reviews and having to come up with something different to say. If they have, I have to draw again. This also undercuts the idea of using the same final film.

      Also, having a full genre or subgenre round is totally unfair to some contestants. What I like about the current format is that it almost almost has the majority out of their comfort zones. I have classic bloggers watching horror films and horror writers watching classics. I have people who hate animation watching animation, and people who watch nothing but the most elite of films watching the worst of films. If round 1 were all, say, horror bloggers, it would throw things off. It would give possible advantage to horror bloggers, but penalty to, say, classics bloggers.

      And I could see this done at least twice a year, once near the beginning and once near the end.

    • LifeVsFilm says:

      I did have a thought that you could do specific directors/actors for each round – the Hitchcock round, the Kubrick round etc, but I think the way you’re doing it now is the best way, a random mix. I do approve of some more middle-of-the-road films too, like Speed, The Little Mermaid and The Mist, rather than extremes like this or North by Northwest.

    • Joel Burman says:

      Nick I can totally see your points in doing it the way you structured its great. My suggestions were a bit gimicky and really thought through.

      I do enjoy the randomeness and getting people out of their comfort zone thats a great aspect of it.

    • Joel Burman says:

      BTW we need a banner for the winner…

    • Nick says:

      I’ll figure out something.

  2. martinteller says:

    This was really close for me, both reviews seem to be of equal quality. In the end I voted for EWO just because Loki’s “yellow brick road” analogy didn’t work for me. But I applaud both of them for tackling what must have been a tough film to watch and to write about.

  3. Dan says:

    I really like the variety of movies and the random selection of it, which keeps the writers on their toes each time.

    For this one, I think both reviews are solid, but I give the slight edge to Loki. I’m not a big fan of the term “chick flick” and the style of the intro. However, it’s a good review overall.

  4. Bubbawheat says:

    I wasn’t quite sure exactly where Loki was going with the yellow brick road metaphor, and it would have been nice to know what roles Natasha Richardson and Stanley Tucci played as to why they were the high points, but I liked how Eyes Wide Open touched on the connections to Cinderella, as I’ve always heard this movie referred to as a modern take on Cinderella. Close call, but my vote went to Eyes Wide Open.

  5. SJHoneywell says:

    I liked both of these reviews pretty well, but was more engaged with EWO’s so that’s where I went. The Wizard of Oz stuff lost me at the start of Loki’s.

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