I am a 22-year old guy, but today was devoted to pre-teen girlie movies. One was surprisingly good, the other about as expected. The Princess Diaries, a G-rated Disney film about a high school girl who learns that she is a princess, is an amazingly funny and smart film that defies everything that would suggest the contrary.
Anne Hathaway plays teenager Mia Thermopolis to perfection, proving she has great comic timing. She's a normal San Franciscan 15-year old until she learns that her grandmother (Julie Andrews) is the queen of a fictional European country called Genovia. Suddenly, she is thrust into the spotlight as she is transformed from her klutzy, ugly ducking persona into a beautiful princess, which in turns changes those around her - some for the better, some for the worst. Despite preparing to become a ruler of a country, she has to deal with normal teen happenings, such as boys, classes and bitchy girls (Mandy Moore).
Sure, there's nothing especially original about the story; it is your typical "makeover royalty" kind of movie, but it is the kind of stuff that little girls just eat up. Even better, it is a film that everyone can enjoy as it is actually really funny, with a lot of smart jokes and comical antics.
Much of the success can be credited to Hathaway, who truly pulls off the goofy girl role pretty well. Her transformation is very easy to believe, even if it is rather cliché. Much of her dialogue is classic, but it takes a certain kind of actress to pull it off. Whether she is capable of doing more serious characters is still up in the air, however.
The Princess Diaries does suffer from some cheesy moments, but that can only be expected. Andrews, who plays the queen of Genovia, is a prude to begin with but quickly warms up to "American casualness." As is evident in my Prince and Me review, I really hate royal makeover stuff, and some of the scenes where Andrews is grooming Hathaway are very forced and dull. Nonetheless, they only take away slightly from the overall pace of the movie.
The Princess Diaries is a surprisingly funny movie. It isn't especially original, but a smart screenplay and good acting make it entertaining from beginning to end.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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