Film Reviews

THE PRINCESS DIARIES

By • Aug 3rd, 2001 •

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I’d like to think there’s still a teenage girl inside me, so I went to see THE PRINCESS DIARIES hoping for charm and a quirky adolescent movie even though the trailer told the entire story. “Starring Anne Hathaway!” proclaims the voiceover accompanying the trailer. Oh, I thought, the new Anne Hathaway film! Then I remembered I hadn’t seen any of her other films. And I couldn’t name one.

Anne Hathaway plays San Francisco teenager Mia Thermopolis – the school geek who – I’m not spoiling anything here I hope – finds out one day that her father was a prince and she is a princess. Queen Clarisse Renaldi (Julie Andrews) turns up unexpectedly and makes the announcement that Mia is going to rule Genovia. Apparently, her father forgot all about the royalty rule of succession and didn’t bother procreating again after divorcing Mia’s artist mom. For some bizarre reason about “a normal childhood,” Helen (Caroline Goodall) decided to hide the fact Mia was royal. Julie Andrews is stiff as a board, peculiar, and without an ounce of charm as the Queen. She makes being royal look like a life sentence surrounded by ugly, boring people as dinner guests. There’s not one celebrity hanger-on.

As the trailer shows, Mia gets her hair straightened, her eyebrows tweezed and glasses removed, but she is still an awkward girl with bad posture. As far as plot and drama goes, Mia hits cute boy Josh (Erik von Detten) with a baseball, forgets about going to her best friend’s cable TV show, and can’t put on pantyhose! Then, in the film’s most controversial scene, Mia gets her foot caught in a net when Josh tries to kiss her! As you can tell, the script is dreary and nothing happens. I will say that Anne Hathaway does a very good job as the shy, introverted Mia. When she is fixed up, Hathaway retains a lot of geeky-Mia’s mannerisms and facial expressions. She works hard here with what she has been given. The director, Garry Marshall, trying to mine the distant past, does not recapture his PRETTY WOMAN-as-Cinderella success story. The directing is heavy, old-fashioned, and without the slightest hint of fun. Didn’t anyone see CLUELESS? Recording artist Mandy Moore plays the standard role of blond bitch and sings, both for no good reason.

Do little girls dream of being a princess or Britney Spears? Do we care about the inherited right of privileged royalty in a country where 15 minutes of fame is now virtually guaranteed to everyone? THE PRINCESS DIARIES can be quickly summed up as a series of bland vignettes about a 15 year-old girl’s makeover as if directed by an 80 year old man.

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