ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  garry marshall

RATED  -  pg

GENRE  -  comedy

LENGTH  -  115 minutes

RELEASED  -  13 august 2004

DISTRIBUTOR  -  walt disney pictures

OFFICIAL SITE  -  princess diaries

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $40,000,000
the princess diaries 2: royal engagement - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from the princess diaries 2: royal engagement at

buy the dvd from the princess diaries 2: royal engagement at

now settled in genovia, princess mia faces a new revelation: she's being primed for an arranged marriage to a english suitor.


poster from the princess diaries 2: royal engagement
buy the poster

the song, "your crowning glory", is the first time julie andrews has sung in public or on screen since she had throat surgery in 1997.


picture from the princess diaries 2: royal engagement

picture from the princess diaries 2: royal engagement

picture from the princess diaries 2: royal engagement

picture from the princess diaries 2: royal engagement


two out of four possible stars

Blanketed with the vivacity of the beautiful Anne Hathaway, The Princess Diaries 2 is far from being a film from which all audiences might find enjoyment, but like the first installment of the bubbly franchise, eight year old girls will probably find this movie irresistible, leaving most other viewers to wonder about their purchase of a ticket. Although there are several small additions to the movie that older viewers might find tickling, much of this film is far too staid to allow for any uproarious reactions to the comedy on screen.

When comedy is to be had in this film, it comes from two sources, one quite likely and the other a welcome surprise. The first and most important bearer of laughs in the film is star Anne Hathaway, who plays "Princess Mia," recent college graduate and future queen of "Genovia" (a tiny imaginary land located somewhere in southern Europe). Wholly deserving of the many acting awards that have been placed upon her young shoulders, Hathaway skillfully combines the physical and mental demands of a comedic role and easily brings back the charm of her character in this sequel. Her approach to physical comedy is always engaging and seemingly effortless.

It doesn't really matter whether the comedy was rehearsed or improvised; every clumsy thing Hathaway's character does is lovely. And like Hathaway, the cute-and-fuzzy factor of the Disney influence is just as strong and just as welcome in the character of "Queen Clarisse Renaldi," played by Disney matriarch, Julie Andrews. Her role in 2001's Diaries was an enthusiastic return to big screen for the actress (most of her recent roles having been in television) and like Hathaway, Andrews fully embodies the role of Queen Clarisse and will give any fan of her work a stomach full of butterflies.

The only element that mars the otherwise delightful performance is an ill-timed musical number in the middle of the film where the queen entertains. In her first public vocal performance since throat surgery in 2001, Andrews' voice is simply gorgeous and she handles the musical number with ease. But any enjoyment one might have from the scene (the scene takes place during a slumber party Princess Mia has thrown for other princesses around the world) is soundly tossed out the window when Raven-Symone (cheekily going by the simple moniker of "Raven" currently) steps in for a cameo appearance as an old princess friend of Hathaway's Princess Mia.

Raven's voice (whether it was dubbed from her voice or the voice of another actress) is so out of tune with the rest of the film. In its present form, the musical sequence would have done the film more value on the cutting room floor. The scene itself (with the assortment of princesses littering each frame) lasts far too long and should have concluded with the simple lullaby-like song from Andrews. Sweet, concise and in line with the look and feel of the rest of the film. As it presently exists, the scene will have you cringing by the end of it.

The assorted supporting characters all turn in suitable performances, with newcomer Chris Pine playing the role of interested suitor to the princess with as much Disney mush as is to be expected for his fairy-tale role. As the serious yet wry head of royal security, Hector Elizondo is a steady presence and is usually the strongest personality in the film. John Rhys-Davies enters the film as a dour Genovian political figure with ease, though his character could have been beefed up as Rhys-Davies surely would have been able to handle a heftier dramatic load. Finally, playing "Lilly," the princess's best friend from high school, Heather Matarazzo makes a spirited and agreeable performance in her few scenes.

There are a few bothersome details regarding the plot that should have been shorn up during the editing and/or screenwriting process. One particularly important detail regards the reason for the queen's decision to step down from the throne in order to allow the princess a chance to rule the country. Why does the queen make this decision? It's just assumed that Hathaway's character will rule the country, but the queen is in perfect health and is in no way unfit to rule. Perhaps this piece of important information, this reason for the princess' ascension, was thrown out during the editing process because it resembled something rather superfluous that eight-year-olds probably wouldn't care about.

This leap of logic will probably bother only those in the audience who fail to find themselves completely enthralled by the frothy antics shown on screen. This portion of the audience will doubtlessly include anybody who has completed at least one year of middle school. It's far too clear throughout the course of this movie that the filmmakers simply did not set the bar very high regarding the story's ingenuity. Most of the dialogue seems to have been written with tots in mind as well.

For reasons that will doubtlessly continue to be a mystery in this and other like-minded films, the producers have it in their head that simple dialogue and non-challenging storylines will pacify the largest section of the audience. What they fail to realize though is that challenging and ingenious dialogue that is supported by a healthy story will garner a larger audience. A hundred times out of a hundred, creativity will suck the audiences into the box office.

But instead, director Garry Marshall has failed to create a true spark for the film to ride on that will engage the audiences emotions any more deeply than a well-produced Hallmark commercial. The performances are sweet as they should be, fortunate for the audience, as viewers will have to depend entirely on the abilities of the performers for entertainment in the film. The sparse budget of the film is more than obvious throughout the film and the special effects can hardly be considered special. Not only is the Southern California location obvious in many of the scenes, but the computer generated landscapes look so poorly composited that one wonders just how small the special effects budget was.

Fans of the first film will probably find enjoyment in this sequel, though The Princess Diaries 2 seems a much more rickety enterprise than its predecessor. One can't say that the production was hurried, as the first film was released a full three years ago, but the production values seem as shallow as the story itself. Look to the stars for the value in this film and the ticket price will be worth its cost.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt

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