ninth symphony films - movie reviews

THE PRINCESS DIARIES (2001)


DIRECTOR  -  garry marshall

RATED  -  g

GENRE  -  comedy

LENGTH  -  114 minutes

RELEASED  -  3 august 2001

DISTRIBUTOR  -  walt disney pictures

OFFICIAL SITE  -  princess diaries

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $130,000,000
the princess diaries - a shot from the film

BUY THE DVD:

buy the dvd from the princess diaries at amazon.com

buy the dvd from the princess diaries at amazon.com


SYNOPSIS:
an estranged family of former child prodigies reunites when one of their member announces he has a terminal illness.




MOVIE FACT:
the scene where mia trips and falls in the bleachers was actually real. anne hathaway had tripped while doing the scene, and director garry marshall thought it was funny and inserted it in the final cut.


MOVIE FOTOS:

picture from the princess diaries

picture from the princess diaries

picture from the princess diaries



RATING:


two out of four possible stars

When watching this movie, perhaps the most important thing to remember is the fact that this little flick has been marketed to a demographic of young girls under the age of ten. Containing many elements of the fantastical and whimsical, this is the type of film that I would have enjoyed immensely when I was in fifth grade. And though the demographic of wee tykes waiting to see this movie guarantees it some modest success, any viewer out of that young age-range will not find anything really interesting about this movie. Perhaps that doesn't matter, you say. A film can be successful by just applying itself to the minds and hearts of the young. Just look at Barney the dino. He's a successful enterprise and is watched by no one over the age of three.

But a wider demographic really does matter. A truly successful children's film must be highly entertaining for the children, but palatable for the adults. Something like The Princess Bride, which is entertaining to children and adults, is what the filmmakers need to strive for. Childishness aside, there also seems to be something lacking in the script for this film. It's not clever, or new, and it's all sort of predictable. Which probably all stems back to the fact that the flick was marketed to young girls and not screenwriters. By the way, who is the screenwriter for this film anyway? My source at the IMDB says Gina Wendkos the literary giant who also penned Coyote Ugly. But perhaps there's always room to grow.

Gina just hasn't done that yet. The Princess Diaries film is based on a book of the same name. Now, assuming that the book was marketed to a young audience like the film, you can't fault the screenwriter for keeping it young. But when you take a book and put it on the screen, you've got to remember that a third of the audience will be old. Not geriatric old, but old enough to have children. Don't filmmakers ever remember the parents that have to sit through kiddie flicks? I can sympathize very much with the oodles of parents who had to sit through this film while their ten-year-old children loved it.

I also feel that Disney got it's message for this film a little mixed up. Sure, it's got that feel good "just be yourself" motto, but I don't really feel that sympathetic for Anne Hathaway's princess character. The movie begins with her character finding out she's really a princess and that she's next in line to rule a small country. Of course, this would be stressful on any 16 year old, and especially so on a 16 year old who looks like Anne does in the beginning of the film: ratty hair, glasses, etc. But then after she gets the disney-style makeover, she looks like someone who just stepped off a runway. Or out of a film.

And her character's problems just don't seem that important anymore. It's a rare feat to turn someone from that nerdy to that trendy, and although hathaway's character has to endure all sorts of teenage tribulations, she just doesn't come off as being that delightful. And in the end when everything sorts itself out for the perfect fairy tale ending, the girl gets the guy, the country, and gets to stay beautiful. Now take the ending in Shrek. Although this film bordered on the annoying sometimes, it's "just be who you are" theme ends nicely when Cameron Diaz's character finds out that she is actually an ogre, instead of the beautiful princess she thought she was and that it is "not what is on the outside" that counts. The Princess Diaries, however, tries to slide that kind of theme into it's film, but it just doesn't cut it. Remember to not bring any young girl with curly brown hair and glasses to this film, because all it will tell her is that she needs to get a Hollywood make-over to become popular and successful.

The supporting characters in this film are pretty good, considering their dialogue is usually kind of predictable. Hector Elizondo was a humorous addtition to the cast as was the bevy of teen stars that accompianied Anne Hathaway, including Mandy Moore as the jealous cheerleader and Heather Matarazzo as the best friend. There will by nobody to knock your socks off with their performance in this film, but there is a good ensemble element to the story. Which in and of itself is not too bad. In fact, the plot's pretty decent. It's just that most of the dialogue is kind of boring and soupy. Okay, so the lowdown on this film is that it is appealing to little girls under the age of ten and that's about it.

I wouldn't bank on making any 15 year old's day by taking her to this film. It's just a little too juvenile and the actors don't have much of a script to work with. Although it's hard to find fault with the acting, I think it's the fault of the script that made the film kind of boring. The emotions the characters went through were a little too predictable and the dialogue was really far from fetching. Even with the presence of the usually delightful Julie Andrews, there just isn't a lot of substance to this film. Now I'm not looking for Oscar here or anything, but a little creativity and wit would be appreciated.

If the script had been just a little bit more innovative and funny, I think that this film would have been a lot more appealing. It would have been agreeable to the older section of the audience if the filmmakers had attempted to broaden its appeal beyond the 10-year-old girl. And white girl at that. Black, Latino, and Asian characters are few and far between in this film. After a slew of films combining just the right balance of different ethnic groups, this film decides to go entirely lilly-white. I mean, come on, this film takes place in San Francisco, one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the United States.

But hey, let's ignore that. This is a Disney film. So for a wrap up, this film probably accomplishes exactly what it set out to do: entertain 10 year old girls. I'd have a lot more respect for the filmmakers though if they tried to combine a film fun for a ten year old, with something appealing to older folks. But hey, what can you expect from Garry Marshall, the genius director who brought us Runaway Bride and Exit to Eden?

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.


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