Review No. 566
Dear Diary: I watched a movie. It sucked.
Director — Garry Marshall
Producers — Whitney Houston, Debra Martin Chase, Mario Iscovitch
Screenplay — Gina Wendkos
Based on — The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
Anne Hathaway — Mia Thermopolis
Heather Matarazzo — Lilly Moscovitz
Héctor Elizondo — Joseph “Joe”
Mandy Moore — Lana Thomas
Caroline Goodall — Helen Thermopolis
Robert Schwartzman — Michael Moscovitz
Julie Andrews — Queen Clarisse Renaldi
Distributor — Buena Vista Pictures
Release Date — August 3, 2001
Language — English
Country — USA
Running Time — 1 hour, 55 minutes
MPAA Rating — G
THE PRINCESS DIARIES WAS WATCHED ON AUGUST 10, 2013.
If you’re a stereotypical six-year-old girl, whatever I say about The Princess Diaries won’t mean a thing to you. Of course, that’s given that I’ve now mentioned the word “Princess.” This is a fun movie for that audience, and since that’s the intended audience, that’s good. The problem? This is a fish-out-of-water comedy. I can imagine a whole theater full of parents and their six-year-old girls, and even in that mental picture, I don’t hear a single laugh. So let’s just assume that you aren’t a six-year-old girl. And let’s assume you manage to make your way through The Princess Diaries. Your surprise that you made it through will be as intense as the surprise you undoubtedly felt when you saw that I had actually reviewed the movie.
The Princess Diaries is a so-called “family movie.” I beg of you, don’t assume that I believe “princess movies” are not “family movies.” It’s just the opposite, and if Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs doesn’t say so, I can provide several more. This isn’t a “princess movie,” though. This is a confusing misadventure. You don’t even need a quote-unquote for that moniker. I’ll give you two examples, as if one doesn’t suffice: First of all, this is a story about a fifteen-year-old girl named Mia (Anne Hathaway), living in San Francisco, the biggest “loser” in her school, and all of a sudden, her grandmother (Julie Andrews) tells her that her deceased father was a prince…which makes Mia a princess. Better yet, her grandmother happens to be a queen of a country off in Europe, as Grace Kelly tosses in her grave like a monkey being used to test amphetamines. Wouldn’t Mia have been told this by now, if it was so important? Better yet, wouldn’t the father have at least gone off with another woman and had a more tolerable daughter, so that the princess wouldn’t be a girl who vomits when she speaks in publics, and who needs a makeover to be respected? It would’ve made a much interesting story. No less episodic, but much more interesting. (Shall I define “much more interesting”? After all, the results we do have aren’t very interesting so I could be saying mind-blowing, or I could be saying fairly interesting.)
The whole movie is a debacle. Oh right the second example (did you forget? I almost did): transportation is an impossible concept in this movie. Mia is driven to school in a limo. How’s she get home? Scootering. So either a scooter just magically appeared for her, or she stole it from some other rich white-trash snob at this private school of hers. (How’s her family affording this school? She’s of marginally better social status than Molly Ringwald was in Pretty in Pink.) I’d like to think it was magic. After all, it was Disney! But Disney, they can make me feel their magic often times. I felt the enthusiasm of Julie Andrews, and Anne Hathaway was exuberant throughout the feature. I also felt the slap-in-the-face I gave myself on more than one occasion, because I felt so sorry for such actresses, those who resort to wasting their precious time in order to make money.