|The Princess Diaries||
Much better. Image whizz Paulo works his magic (Miller, Hathaway, Andrews)...
dir Garry Marshall|
scr Gina Wendkos
with Anne Hathaway, Julie Andrews, Hector Elizondo, Heather Matarazzo, Robert Schwartzman, Larry Miller, Caroline Goodall, Sandra Oh, Erik von Detten, Mandy Moore, Terry Wayne, Julie Paris
release US 3.Aug.01; UK 5.Oct.01
See also: THE PRINCESS DIARIES 2: ROYAL ENGAGEMENT (2004)
Alarm bells went off when Marshall took directing chores on this adaptation of the popular novel series. And rightly so: Bad direction ruins what could have been a genuinely charming film. Mia (Hathaway) is an "invisible" teen; no one notices her. Especially not Josh (von Detten), the boy of her dreams. But she does have an artist mother (Goodall), quirky best friend Lilly (Matarazzo) and Lilly's musician brother Michael (Schwartzman) who care about her. Then her long-lost grandmother, Queen Clarisse of Genovia (Andrews), appears to tell Mia she's actually heir to the throne. Her world turns upside down as she's now the centre of attention (including Josh's). Can she take on the challenge? Does she even want to?|
Duh. The film is so carelessly made that every surprise in the story is given away very early on--we know from the beginning exactly what will happen, and scenes are so badly staged that any comic or dramatic potential is lost. It also seems to have been edited with a machete. Despite this, Hathaway is quite good--sparky and energetic and often better than the material. As Andrews always is, even when delivering an excruciatingly weak line of dialog. Meanwhile, Elizondo efficiently does his usual sidekick shtick as the Queen's security expert, and the underused Miller nearly steals the show as an image expert--one of those flamboyantly foreign Martin Short roles. Otherwise, it's pretty painful to watch. The schizophrenic screenplay darts from slapstick to sentimentality, with a strange vein of subversive humour obviously added at a later stage by an uncredited script doctor. These warped moments get the biggest laughs, because they're both completely unexpected and utterly at odds with the tame pap around them. All of this is a real shame because there's a lot of good stuff dying to get out--comments on teen identity, coming of age, loyalty and responsibility--not to mention the comedic possibilities. All wasted. Alas ... if only this meant that Marshall would never work again.