Archive: The Princess Diaries (2001)

Nothing makes you feel old then the back of a DVD case calling Anne Hathaway a ‘newcomer’.  By now she is a household name.  But I am taking a girly trip down memory lane and having a grand old time!

Certificate: U

Director: Garry Marshall

Screenwriter: Meg Cabot (novel), Gina Wendkos (screenplay)  

Starring: Julie Andrews, Anne Hathaway, Hector Elizondo

Genre: Comedy, Family

Runtime: 101 Minutes

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway) is the average teenager – sweet, a little geeky, and pretty much invisible to everyone with the exception of her mother, best friend Lilly (Heather Matarazzo) and Lilly’s older brother Michael (Robert Schwartzman). Making it through high school without throwing up is a challenge in itself for Mia, so it doesn’t come as welcome news when her estranged grandmother, Queen Clarisse Renaldi (Dame Julie Andrews), shows up out of the blue and calmly informs her that she is in fact the heir to the throne of a European country called Genovia. Suddenly Mia’s life is thrown into complete overload.

Oh my heart is feeling so much better after this.  It is just the perfect film to watch when you are feeling a bit down or just need a little cheering up.  It is nothing but pure, unadulterated teenage fluff and I loved every single second of it. 

This was one of, if not the first of Anne Hathaway’s big breaks and to so many in the world she will always by synonymous with Princess Mia. She gives a great gawky performance at the beginning of the film, and we watch aghast as she slowly transforms into the much more refined princess.  I for one enjoy watching her be the gawky teenager at the beginning, but lets face it, every girl secretly wishes that someone would come along and tell her she is a princess, so I can totally relate to her decision to up sticks and move to a palace.

What can be said about the national treasure that is Julie Andrews that has not already been said a thousand times.  I wish she was my grandmother.  She never fails to give a great performance, and while acting in a silly teenage drama may seem a little beneath her normal standards, she fits the role perfectly and it is hard to think who else could embody the spirit of royaly better then the Great Julie Andrews.

Let’s be real, if you have seen one cheesy teenage drama you have seen them all.  There are all the classic tropes here that you would expect and the usual cast of high school characters.  Nothing really happens that is overly unexpected and you can foresee literally every plot twist and major plot point that is going to happen a mile away.  Does this make it repetitive and a product of a formula used a hundred times? Yes.  Will this stop you enjoying the film from start to finish? No not really.

I admit there is a very specific target audience for this sort of thing, and a very specific group of people that will find this movie silly and trite.  But when times are this dark, I will take my rays of sunshine wherever I can get them.

The Princess Diaries is available to stream now on Disney+

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