Before Ben Affleck was a serious, hard–hitting director of movies based on true stories (and before he had adorable Jennifer Garner–babies), he was that guy who accompanied J. Lo’s butt to movie premieres, such as that of the 2002 classic, “Maid in Manhattan.”

The premise of this J. Lo flick is either cute or eye–roll–inducing, depending on your tolerance for rom–com plot devices: Jennifer Lopez stars as a hotel maid, who — through white lies and happenstance — is swept into a whirlwind romance with an aspiring New York senator, played by a pre–“Harry Potter” Ralph Fiennes. “I only came to tell you that this can’t go anywhere beyond this evening,” J.Lo says with sass. “Then you should have worn a different dress,” replies Fiennes, in a way that makes you forget he’s Voldemort.

The movie is predictable from start to finish, the circumstances are ridiculously contrived and the script is overrun with idiot plot syndrome (defined by Roger Ebert as “any plot containing problems that would be solved instantly if all the characters were not idiots”). Regardless, you can’t help but sigh over your ice cream as J.Lo glides down a spiral staircase dressed like a princess with the help of her fairy–godmother–like maid friends. In the end, all “Maid in Manhattan” lacks for the spell to be complete is a J.Lo–backed R&B soundtrack á la Whitney Houston and “The Bodyguard.” Hey, a girl can dream…


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