The Princess Diaries Movie Review

Anne Hathaway is a gorgeous, young woman with a gentle screen charisma. It's hard to believe she will turn 19 this fall; she looks and presents herself like a woman who knows all the answers.

This is someone who should not be the lead role in a movie about puberty blues, but here she is. In Garry Marshall's latest outing, The Princess Diaries, Hathaway plays a smart, gawky 10th grader who learns she is the heir to the throne of a small European country.

The news is broken to Hathaway by her long-lost grandmother (Julie Andrews), queen of fictional Genovia, while she tends to business at the country's embassy in San Francisco. Genovia is in desperate need of a ruler and needs Hathaway to take over after her father's death. Despite her doubts, California klutz Hathaway agrees to take "princess lessons" from Andrews and trusted chauffer Hector Elizondo before deciding whether to rule a country or take the SATs.

This is all very familiar territory for Marshall, who directed Pretty Woman over a decade ago. However, Pretty Woman worked because of a brilliantly brash performance by a pre-superstar Julia Roberts and the movie's take as an adult fairly tale. With The Princess Diaries, there isn't anything distinctive to make it particularly memorable.

Among the flaws in Gina Wendkos' script, based on Meg Cabot's novel, is the constant reliance on Hathaway's clumsiness. She breaks things, has trouble putting on panty hose, falls down a lot. I'd love to see the day when a comedy doesn't have to feature a beautiful woman flailing around like she has an inner ear problem. Words can be just as funny coming out of a woman's mouth as they can a man's. Watch Madeline Kahn in Young Frankenstein for proof.

The script also doesn't have the wink-wink humor (like Shrek) that makes a family film appealing to adults. While the goofiness and pretty cast (teen siren Mandy Moore has a sizable role as Hathaway's nemesis) will certainly satisfy kids, there's really not a lot for grown-ups to enjoy. Andrews and Elizondo (in Pretty Woman mode) give spirited performances, but they don't get a lot to do. However, a dance scene between the two is the movie's sweetest moment and hints at what could have been.

This is Hathaway's movie, which is both a good and a bad thing. She's positively stunning and shows talent despite the clunky plot. However, I have a major problem with her character. Even in frizzy hair and Elvis Costello glasses, she would be popular in just about any high school in America. You can only imagine what Hathaway looks like in princess mode.

Still, the leggy, elegant Hathaway is the lead in a movie that takes a somewhat serious look at the awkwardness of growing up and the value of a person's character. I saw the movie with an audience during a Friday matinee, consisting mostly of kids who probably are or soon will be going through the same problems. Certainly, The Princess Diaries isn't the only culprit of questionable adolescent casting: Varsity Blues and She's All That immediately come to mind as well. In The Princess Diaries, Hathaway's presence also deflates her character's regal metamorphosis. What exactly was there to transform in the first place?

The Princess Diaries on DVD is largely what you'd expect, though Garry Marshall's introductions of his deleted scenes (as well as his commentary track) are insane and worth checking out. Is he on something? Does he think he's the king of Genovia? Don't laugh... yet. The new two-disc Special Edition cut adds more outtakes and bloopers, more featurettes, and more Hathaway goodness, all presented in THX-certified super-sound.

Some country you got there.


Comments

The Princess Diaries Rating

" Weak "

Rating: G, 2001

Advertisement

Editors Recommendations

So, 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' Is Basically The Best Movie Ever, Right?

Critics are uproarious in their praise for Fox's sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The movie, which follows 2011's well received effort, focuses...

So, 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' Is Basically The Best Movie Ever, Right?

Cory Monteith's Father Is Still Mourning The Actor, But Thinks Lea Michele Should Move On

With the anniversary of Cory Monteith’s death approaching, his family and friends...

Cory Monteith's Father Is Still Mourning The Actor, But Thinks Lea Michele Should Move On

Beyonce And Jay Z Were Right At Home At The MetLife Stadium

Yes, hello, it’s still 2014 and Beyonce and Jay Z are still ruling over us all. On Friday night...

Jay Z  - Beyonce And Jay Z Were Right At Home At The MetLife Stadium

Jenny McCarthy Thinks Rosie O'Donnell's Return To "The View" Is Just What The Doctor Ordered

Since the first mention of Rosie O’Donnell for one of the free chairs on The View...

Jenny McCarthy Thinks Rosie O'Donnell's Return To

Jackson Family To Star In New Reality Show - But Who Is Alejandra Jackson?

Members of Michael Jackson's extended family are set to star in a new...

Jackson Family To Star In New Reality Show - But Who Is Alejandra Jackson?

Tommy Ramone, Raucous Drummer with The Ramones, Dies Aged 62

Tommy Ramone, the last surviving member of New York punk band The Ramones...

Tommy Ramone, Raucous Drummer with The Ramones, Dies Aged 62
Advertisement

Zach Braff Reignites The Shins Connection for 'Wish I Was Here'

By the time you finish reading this article you will be enlightened. You...

Zach Braff Reignites The Shins Connection for 'Wish I Was Here'

One Month Later, Tracy Morgan Is Out Of Rehab And Suing Wal-Mart For Crash

Finally, a round of good news from Tracy Morgan’s camp. The comedian, who was...

One Month Later, Tracy Morgan Is Out Of Rehab And Suing Wal-Mart For Crash

Cameron Diaz wants to travel to space

The 41-year-old actress is hoping humans will be able to permanently relocate...

Cameron Diaz - Cameron Diaz wants to travel to space


More recommendations

Advertisement