The Prince & Me Movie Review

Let me begin this review of the insultingly trite, insipidly twinkly, romantically suspect and aggressively unoriginal fairytale "The Prince and Me" with the least of the movie's thousands upon thousands of problems: It takes place in Wisconsin and Denmark between the months of September and January, and yet the trees are green, there's no snow on the ground and the characters never wear anything heavier than a long-sleeve shirt.

It's a movie in which all European royalty speak with English accents no matter what country they're from. It's a movie in which a character moves into a dorm room and starts taking classes 24 hours after deciding to go to college. (Admissions process? What's that?) It's a movie without an ounce of chemistry between its romantic leads, and it's a movie in which people are supposed to learn What's Really Important In Life -- and yet it cops out and goes for the crowd-pleaser ending that doesn't jive with the lessons supposedly learned.

But these are merely symptoms of a much larger problem, which is that there is not a single creative plot point, original line of dialogue, unique personality trait or even fresh note of music in the entire everygirl-meets-royal-hottie fantasy.

Julia Stiles stars as Paige, a supposedly very serious pre-med junior at a Midwest college who is distracted from her studies by falling in love with a wild-oats-sowing Danish prince named Edvard Valdemar Dangaard (newcomer Luke Mably). He has come to the U.S. to have lots of sex with easy American girls, but for the sake of the plot decides to do it incognito, even though his royalty would easily and obviously attract more babes than his aristocratic, inbred looks and stiff charm ever could.

"You will address me as Eddie...yes, Eddie!" he proclaims to his conspicuously ever-present valet (Ben Miller), who irons his underwear and makes eggs benedict on his dorm room hot plate while wearing a frilly apron.

After a feebly conceived, antagonistic meet-cute in which Eddie asks to see Paige's breasts (that's what they do in the "Girls Gone Wild" video) and she dumps a drink on him, they're forced to work together as lab partners in a chemistry class (which they share even though she's in her third year of medical study and he's an undeclared freshman).

Instantaneously he abandons his horny priorities and begins helping her with her Shakespeare. (He has unsuspected depth! Catch me as I swoon!) Soon she's teaching him how to do laundry (even though he has the valet for that) and making room in her busy life for their thus far platonic relationship -- but only because the script says so.

Meanwhile back in Denmark, in randomly-paced scenes designed to force the plot along, Eddie's kingly father (James Fox) gets a doctor's check-up set to foreboding, in-case-you-missed-the-point music, and two bored paparazzi (played by such bad actors they can't even hold a camera convincingly) conspire to track down the missing prince and find out whom he's diddling.

Oh, dear! What will happen to their relationship when 1) Eddie is exposed, and 2) he has to go home and assume the throne? This movie doesn't take place in a fairytale world; it takes place in a world of pure bull pucky.

Add to the mix of brazen, maddening clichés a Thanksgiving at Paige's dairy-farm home (Eddie tries to milk a cow, etc.) and a never-ending last act in which she waffles about her altruistic medical ambitions while getting the future-royal treatment in Denmark, and there's only one way "The Prince and Me" could be any worse -- it could have starred Kate Hudson ("Alex and Emma," "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days").

By default Stiles' very modest charms are the movie's best asset, but director Martha Coolidge ("Out to Sea") doesn't bother developing her character's individuality or giving more than cursory screen time to her conflicted emotions.We never see Eddie grow either -- he just has sudden personality changes, from whiny brat ("I don't know why my father insists I go with him," he pouts about parliamentary meetings) to sex-obsessed jerk to Mr. Wonderful to Mr. Responsible. After the king is dead, he's suddenly self-possessed enough to negotiate a national labor dispute (using some folksy knowledge gleaned on the farm), while Paige and the queen (Miranda Richardson) watch from thrones on a meeting-room balcony for no explored reason.

Absolutely drowning in such ludicrous contrivances -- chemistry set explosions, romantic confrontations in the rain, royal parades for no reason -- which don't let up until the credits roll, "The (grammatically incorrect) Prince and Me" is everything that's inexcusably banal and tedious in Hollywood romantic comedies, and then some.


The Prince & Me Rating

" Hmmm "

Rating: PG, WIDE: Friday, April 2, 2004


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