Julia Stiles has got to start doing better than this. The Prince & Me, her latest romantic comedy, is the perfect example of how fairy tale romances need more than a cute concept to stay afloat.
Stiles stars as Paige, an intelligent and independent thinker who is attending the University of Wisconsin. She meets her match - and possible soul mate - in the form of Luke Mably, who plays Eddie, an exchange student from Denmark (though in real life he is British). Though their relationship starts off rocky, they soon begin to bond - until she learns that he has been lying to her all along and he is actually the crown prince of Denmark. Heavens, no! What a horrible thing! Suddenly, she is thrust into the world of royalty, but can she keep her independence?
The Prince & Me is a fairly generic tale that picks and chooses from the "random romantic comedy machine." Hence, there are three themes that are played out here: 1) The 'relationship with a secret' storyline, 2) the 'royalty means I can wear expensive jewelry' storyline and 3) the 'Americans are better and can breathe new life into the stuck-up European lifestyle' storyline. The screenwriters conveniently never blend any of the three stories, so what we get is a decent (yet still unoriginal) first act and two bland follow-up acts.
The first half of the movie, as Prince Edward tries to woo Paige, is pretty harmless. It is common knowledge that the 'relationship with a secret' storyline never fails, as people - especially women (are they more gullible?) - are suckers for seeing a couple overcome the odds. There are some funny scenes and Stiles and Mably play well off one another. Being a college-aged guy, I probably liked the first half better because the movie skewed slightly to Edward's perspective, showing more of what he was thinking and so on and so forth - after all, he goes to Wisconsin after watching a "Girls Gone Wild in Wisconsin" video.
Unfortunately, the screenwriters flip-flop the perspective halfway through and the movie shifts to Stiles' perspective, which isn't bad but is completely different from what was going on in the first half. The second half is pretty boring as Stiles has to adjust to royal life, deal with a conservative stepmother and eventually ask herself whether this is the life she wants to lead. Very little of interest happens here, though pre-teen girls may get a kick out of it as Paige gets to see the secret vault where all of the royal jewelry is contained, et cetera. It would have been funny to see Paige's family (farmers) meet Eddie's family.
What is most bothersome, though, is that The Prince & Me is yet another movie that pretends that Europeans are somehow more uptight than Americans, when in reality both cultures have a balanced number of flaws and perks. Sure, what is expected in royalty may be a bit different, but this biased theme has been played out so many times and never works!
The Prince & Me is fairly harmless and does have its moments, but its target audience is only little girls who are still dreaming of meeting a foreign prince. In reality, the movie offers nothing new and is a drag even among films of a similar nature.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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