Marisa Ventura is a single mother trying to get by with her 10-year-old young son Ty by working as a maid for The Beresford Hotel in the heart of Manhattan. When not in school, Ty spends time among Marisa’s fellow hotel workers, who think she is capable of being promoted to management.
While Marisa and fellow maid Stephanie are cleaning the room of socialite Caroline Lane, Stephanie convinces Marisa to try on a designer Dolce & Gabbana coat. Lane had previously asked for it to be returned to the store and Stephanie argues that it “technically” doesn’t belong to anyone at the moment. Elsewhere in the hotel, Ty befriends hotel guest and senatorial candidate Christopher Marshall, whom Ty learns has an interest in Richard Nixon, the subject of his school presentation. Ty wants to go with Chris to walk his dog and the pair go to Caroline Lane’s room to ask Marisa for permission. Chris meets Marisa who is wearing the designer coat, and is instantly smitten with her. He assumes that she is Caroline Lane. The trio spend some time together in the park. Though Marisa and Chris are attracted to each other, Marisa is terrified that management will find out about the ruse and makes it a point to avoid Chris afterwards.
Chris asks the hotel’s head butler Lionel Bloch to invite “Caroline Lane” to lunch, but he is confused when the real Caroline shows up instead of Marisa. Ironically, Marisa was present when she received the invitation and even offered Caroline some advice on what to wear for their “Lunch à deux”. When the real Caroline shows up, Chris asks his assistant Jerry Siegal to find “the other Caroline Lane” promising that he will attend an important dinner and wishes her to go with him. Jerry asks Lionel to find her. Lionel, who has figured out that Marisa is the woman Chris has been looking for, tells her to go to the dinner and end the affair swiftly if she wants to keep her possible future in hotel management. Stephanie and the hotel staff assist her in preparing for the evening by styling her hair and loaning her an expensive dress and spectacular necklace.
Marisa is unable to end the affair, and she spends the night in Chris's hotel room. The next morning, Marisa is spotted by the real Caroline Lane and her friend leaving Chris' room. Caroline blurts out the truth to the hotel management and Marisa is fired in front of Chris in Lane’s hotel suite. Both Marisa and Chris spend some time apart with him still thinking about her and Marisa hounded by the press and her disapproving classist mother Veronica.
Some time later, Marisa has obtained another job as a maid at another hotel. Chris is giving a press conference in the same hotel and Ty attends it and asks Chris whether people should be forgiven if they make mistakes, referencing former President of the United States, Richard Nixon. Ty leads him to the staff-room where Marisa is having her break. Chris and Marisa are reunited and the film ends with images of publications showing that Chris has been elected, he and Marisa are still together after one year, Marisa has started her own hospitality business, and Marisa’s maid friends have been promoted to management.Jennifer Lopez as Marisa Ventura
Ralph Fiennes as Christopher Marshall
Natasha Richardson as Caroline Lane
Stanley Tucci as Jerry Siegal
Tyler Posey as Ty Ventura
Frances Conroy as Paula Burns
Chris Eigeman as John Bextrum
Amy Sedaris as Rachel Hoffberg
Marissa Matrone as Stephanie Kehoe
Priscilla Lopez as Veronica Ventura
Bob Hoskins as Lionel Bloch
Lisa Roberts Gillan as Cora
Maddie Corman as Leezette
Sharon Wilkins as Clarice
Jeffrey Dinowitz as Congressman Grey
Di Quon as Lily Kim
Marilyn Torres as Barb
Lou Ferguson as Keef Townsend
The film was originally titled The Chambermaid and then Uptown Girl. It was described as a Cinderella-type story. John Hughes was initially announced as the film's director, with Hilary Swank set to star as the lead. Variety confirmed in July 2001 that Jennifer Lopez was in negotiations to star in The Chambermaid, with Hughes no longer directing the project. Swank was no longer involved in the film. Ralph Fiennes signed on to star in the film in February 2002. Natasha Richardson joined the cast in April 2002. The film's title was confirmed as Maid in Manhattan in August 2002. Describing the character of Marisa, Lopez said: "She's Puerto Rican. She's from the Bronx. She has this young son and she's just trying to make ends meet. Every day she gets on the train to work. She goes to this big city of dreams and she wants more. She has aspirations in that way." Fiennes' character was originally a wealthy British guest.
Principal photography commenced in April, and concluded by June 2002. Filming was carried out at both New York's Roosevelt Hotel and the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Filming also took place in the Morris Heights section of the Bronx on E 175 Street between the Grand Concourse and on Jerome Avenue. John Hughes wrote the story, but was credited as Edmond Dantes. On the film's first day of production in The Bronx, paparazzi and spectators forced filming to stop, and police were called as a result of the pandemonium. Wayne Wang said "No one in the production was prepared for it."
Maid in Manhattan opened at 2,838 theaters in the United States, reaching number one at the box office in its opening weekend with $18.7 million, beating out Star Trek: Nemesis, by less than $200,000. It earned a total of $94,011,225 domestically, and $60,895,468 in other countries, for a total gross of $155 million worldwide.
Maid in Manhattan received mixed reviews from film critics. At the website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a rating of 39% based on 145 reviews and the site's consensus stating: "Too blandly generic, Maid in Manhattan also suffers from a lack of chemistry between Lopez and Fiennes."
Time magazine named it one of the top 10 worst chick flicks. According to Anna Smith of the magazine Empire: "the film constantly falls back on its staple fairy-tale plotline, which is so resolutely traditional it should succeed in charming its target audience". Nell Minow of Common Sense Media wrote positively, stating: "is as careful a combination of ingredients as it is possible to package [sic] Everything is at the fairy tale level, which means we never dwell on troubling realities". Paul Byrnes of the Sydney Morning Herald said: "The script is so lazy it snores, and Wayne Wang directs like he walked onto the wrong set - true enough, in its way." Rich Cline of the webzine Film Threat reviewed Maid in Manhattan positively. Cline wrote: "When we catch ourselves sighing at the end, we get mad that we've fallen for this same old formula all over again. But mad in a nice way." Roger Ebert wrote that the film is a "skillful, glossy, formula picture, given life by the appeal of its stars".
Charles Passy of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution gave it a negative review, writing: "Instead of a fairy tale, we have a tale told without imagination. It's Cinderella gone stale." Andrew Chase of Killer Movie Reviews, however, was more positive. Chase wrote: "Leave reality at the concession stand along with your $20 for popcorn, candy and a large drink". Derek Adams of Time Out wrote: "Talented individuals labour over the contrivances in this lightweight romance, and if the result's fluff, at least it's painless."
Lopez's casting in the film sparked some debate. Variety commented that "[m]aking the maid a Latina is certainly realistic but never quite avoids the suggestion that upward mobility is best achieved through marriage into Anglo society". Fade to Black and White: Interracial Images in Popular Culture (2009) author Erica Chito Childs noted aspects of the film to expose the objective sides of a biracial relationship using the "symbolic roles of maid and politician". Writer Betty Kaklamanidou praised Lopez's casting in the film which "proved that a Latin actress can move away from stereotypical supporting roles and effectively become the center of a romantic narrative". In 2007, actress Jessica Alba said: "Jennifer Lopez is a huge star but in Hollywood they still always want her to play the maid".
The film features Paul Simon's "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard" in the opening credits, "Train On A Track" sung by Kelly Rowland, "Come Away With Me" and "Don't Know Why" sung by Norah Jones,"Fall Again" sung by Glenn Lewis, Paul Simon's "Kathy's Song" sung by Eva Cassidy and "I'm Coming Out" sung by Amerie .
ABC announced in August 2008 that it would be adapting the film to a television series, with Jennifer Lopez producing. As of March 2010, the IMDb still listed "Maid in Manhattan (2009)" as in production with Chad Hodge as script writer, but a 2009 Sony Pictures Television press release only shows it as a put pilot. ABC Television has yet to release or air any version of the pilot project. As of November 25, 2011, IMDB has removed the page and the pilot was rejected.
Telemundo and Sony Pictures Television are co-producing a telenovela based on the movie called Una Maid en Manhattan, starring Litzy and Eugenio Siller. As of November 29, 2011, the telenovela is airing in Telemundo weeknights at 8pm/7pm central.