MAID IN MANHATTAN (Wayne Wang, 2002)

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A Republican senator falling for a Latina maid would be even more of a fantasy now compared to when this fairy tale originally came out fifteen years ago. I’d be less surprised to see a movie with Jennifer Lopez as another Boy Next Door-ish cougar to Tyler Posey, who actually played her very young Bread-listening son here.

Poor Frances Conroy and the late Natasha Richardson were wasted as secondary caricatures, but even moreso the Actor Commonly Known as Voldemort. It was a bit uncomfortable to watch the dignified Ralph Fiennes trying his best Hugh Grant impression, made worse by his complete lack of chemistry with J.Lo. They obviously needed a dose of love potion from the Weasleys.

To be fair though, this movie (along with Miss Congeniality) had one of the most memorable makeover reveals in current cinema outside of the Anne Hathaway Universe (The Devil Wears Prada, The Princess Diaries, Les Miserables, err…). A radiant J.Lo in a pink strapless chiffon gown with a million dollar Harry Winston wreath necklace would be a maid’s ultimate dream. Well that and of course Gelli de Belen and her unlimited bikini collection in Ikaw Lang ang Mamahalin (Camiguin).

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

THE ESCORT (Enzo Williams, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Escort:

1. In Ikaw Lang ang Mamahalin, Gelli de Belen played a household help who owned a magical wardrobe full of expensive bikinis. She wore a different pair in every scene of the montage (set to the theme song, of course) with her making tampisaw under a raging waterfall or lying down the sandy beaches of Camiguin. She must have been employed in Ayala Alabang to be able to afford such a collection.

I wondered about the same thing here with Yassi (Lovi Poe), who wore the most fabulous outfits while working as a part-time waitress turned receptionist. Sure, there was mention that she would get paid handsomely for the desk job, but the upkeep was still very questionable (besides she was already wearing nice clothes prior to the makeover). The controversial bespoke white gown alone (read FashionPulis and get updated) must have cost her a fortune. Seriously, where should I send my resumé?

2. As someone completely fascinated with the dealings in Cafe Havana, my curiosity was piqued by the promise of an inside look at the escort service industry. Do rich men really pay to have an escort girlfriend in lavish private functions? How are they different from prostitutes? Since Yassi handled most of the girls’ bookings, does that make her their pimp? With the girls providing extra service, is the business even legal? Sadly, it didn’t really care much about these questions.

3. The movie’s justification for prostitution? “Lahat tayo nagbebenta ng parte ng katawan natin for a living.” Xyruz (Derek Ramsay) then provided examples, like how a doctor would use his brain to perform a surgery, or a painter would utilize his hands to create a masterpiece, or whatever crap he invented to get Yassi to sleep with him.

Jusko naman Xyruz, ganyan na ang spelling ng pangalan mo, ganyan pa ang logic mo! Aba, parang kahit magbenta ako ng kidney ko eh iba pa rin yun sa pagbebenta ng laman. What happened to just using a lame old pick-up line?

4. In Ex with Benefits, Coleen Garcia’s character slept with a dirty old dean so that Derek could take his revalida and graduate from college. In this one, Lovi agreed to sleep with a dirty old man (Christopher de Leon, in full ’00s Christopher de Leon mode) to cover Derek’s medical expenses. Why do these girls do the craziest things for him? Gaano ba talaga kalaki yan, Derek?

5. Tanduay product placement within the first two minutes of the movie. Also, every scene had an establishing shot with the sponsors’ names. One resort had its own montage that included drone shots of the place. Was this a world record in cinema shamelessness?

6. I was happy to see Dimples Romana as one of the escorts, giving hope to other plus-size women dreaming of becoming high-class hookers. She provided the much-needed comic relief, even if some of the jokes were just too weird. In one scene, she was served a birthday (Kink?) cake with boobs on top to which she said, “Blow ko na ba ‘to? Ang liit naman.” Huh?

One rape joke even bordered on being despicable (a girl found it funny that her father raped her after he learned the nature of her work). We’re supposed to laugh? Eww.

7. The escort service’s name was Luxe and a character described the business as “Bayad. Booking. Deal” which really reminded me of OLX (formerly Sulit.com).

8. This was reminiscent of the glossy, cheesy, sexy filth that pervaded in the late ’90s and required a good shower after viewing. There really wasn’t anything original here. Heck, even the villains wore black sando like bouncers.

9. This will most likely be remembered as the movie where a woman was so disgusted with herself for being so impure after losing her virginity that she actually uttered the lines, “Di na ako malinis. Di na ako karapat-dapat mahalin.” Hala bes, 2016 na ganyan ka pa mag-isip!

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆