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|The Princess Diaries 2 Royal Engagement|
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E||
dir Garry Marshall|
scr Shonda Rhimes
with Anne Hathaway, Julie Andrews, Hector Elizondo, Chris Pine, John Rhys-Davies, Heather Matarazzo, Callum Blue, Raven, Kathleen Marshall, Erik Bragg, Matthew Walker, Scott Marshall, Caroline Goodall, Tom Poston, Spencer Breslin, Larry Miller
release US 11.Aug.04, UK 15.Oct.04
Ready, aim, fall in love: Hathaway and Pine
To say that this film is better than the original isn't saying much. It still has all the hallmarks of A Garry Marshall Film--clunky direction, corny comedy, insulting storytelling, an obsession with embarrassment--but there's also a rather charming story underneath it all.
It's five years later and Mia (Hathaway) has grown into her role as a princess. As Mia celebrates her 21st birthday, her grandmother (Andrews) is getting ready to step down as Queen of Genovia. But Mia finds out that she must be married to inherit the crown. And she only has 30 days to find a husband. And there's a contender for the throne in a distant relative: the gorgeous, talented, intelligent Nicholas (Pine), who's being pushed by his a fiendishly ambitious uncle (Rhys-Davies). Gosh, what's a princess to do?
There is absolutely no question where this is going, even when an eligible and extremely nice young British Lord (Blue) appears to woo Mia. Fortunately Hathaway is thoroughly engaging, even as she's forced to endure scene after scene of inane clumsiness that's simply not consistent with her character anymore. Even more fun to watch is Andrews, who shines as the regal grand dame, the funky grandma and even the romantic interest to her loyal security chief (Elizondo). She even gets to sing, and she's so effortlessly wonderful that you don't care it's such a terrible song.
The main problem here is that instead of examine the story's intriguing themes, Marshall merely inserts as many wacky set pieces as possible ... and not one of them works. From a silly dancing montage to Mia's pied piper scene with adorable orphans to mattress surfing in the ballroom during her bridal-shower pyjama party (!), the film constantly opts for contrived cheesiness, slathering on the cuteness with a trowel. Genovia looks like a prissy Disneyland version of a European principality. Even the sinister villain (because we must have one, of course) is silly. Despite the slick surface and an endearingly sweet undercurrent, this is still insulting filmmaking. Although 10-year-old princess wannabes will love it. As will suckers for romance.
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