She rocks. She rules. She reigns.
Running Time: 114 minutes
US Certificate: G UK Certificate: U
Country: United States
Safe, snoozy chick-flicks and fam-coms are what New York director Garry Marshall has carved a very successful career out of. Ever seen Overboard? Thats one of his. Or Pretty Woman? Thats his too. How about Beaches, Runaway Bride or Raising Helen? His, his and his. Getting an idea now of the sort of stuff he makes? Well, The Princess Diaries is another one.
It stars a frumped-up Anne Hathaway as Mia Thermopolis, an awkward, bushy-haired schoolgirl with a major confidence problem and an almost-as-large set of eyebrows. Shes fairly content with her life of hanging around with similarly-geeky pal Lilly (Heather Matarazzo) and being ignored by pretty much everyone else, until Granny Clarisse (Julie Andrews) turns up to share a secret thats guaranteed to change her life forever. You see, it turns out that our Mia is actually the long-lost Princess of Genovia, a makey-uppy European nation supposedly famous for its pears and located somewhere between France and Spain (Andorra then, surely?).
The Genovians need someone to reign supreme once Granny snuffs it, and Mia fits the bill or at least she will do once shes discovered make-up, a dress-sense and a set of garden shears for those brows.
The whole things about as formulaic as it gets, with our newbie-to-nobility being taught the ways of Royaldom, whilst at the same time trying to keep up with her classmates (among them teen pop pixie Mandy Moore) in the popularity and puberty stakes. Oh, and there are a couple of predictably handsome love interests for her to choose from as well, natch.
In short, its a dull-fest, which means that bags of credit are due to Hathaway whose sparky comic performance in the lead role is all that makes the string of cut-and-paste clichés bearable. In this, her first big screen role, she shows herself to be a likable and talented actress whose presence alone is enough to drag a poor, forgettable film up to a level where its developed an impressive fanbase and has even been deemed worthy of a 2004 sequel. Hopefully though, once that ones out of the way, shell concentrate on doing considerably bigger and better things.
It's Got: Mandy Moore nudging her way onto the soundtrack with a bafflingly unnecessary live performance of Stupid Cupid in the middle of the film.
It Needs: Some sort of explanation as to why the Queen of Genovia talks with what is clearly an English accent.
DVD Extras A New Princess featurette, deleted scenes, audio commentaries, a couple of music vids, and a trailer for the DVD release of Beauty and the Beast. All in all, its a pretty good package. DVD Extras Rating: 7/10
Only Hathaway saves it from being a throwaway.