"The Princess & the Marine" is a made for TV movie from 2001 which is based upon the true story of US Marine Jason Johnson and Meriam Al Khalifa a member of the Bahraini royal family or that should be based upon the fairytale part of their story. I say that because firstly their true story didn't finish where the movie does but also this is very much a fairytale story of forbidden love. It is pleasant enough, in fact it is quite cute but it is more fairytale than real life and very much a movie for young audiences who enjoy fairytale romances.
Having been sent Bahrain on a years assignment Mormon Lance Corporal Jason Johnson (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) is waiting to meet the right girl before settling down. Meriam Al Khalifa (Marisol Nichols - National Lampoon's Vegas Vacation) a member of the Bahraini Royal family is also waiting to meet the right man and the thought of having to have an arranged marriage terrifies her. When she meets Jason she feels something for him and whilst they both realise the danger she will put herself in by starting a secret relationship let things progress as they secretly meet over the months. That is until one day the secret police catch them kissing and Meriam's mum forbids her from seeing him. That doesn't stop them and forced to continue by passing on messages decide that Jason will help her escape and return to America with him to marry.
There are a lot of words to describe "The Princess & the Marine" and alongside cute and fairytale I could say sweet and pleasant but it is certainly not very realistic. It is a case that the writers have taken the true story and turned it into this fairytale romance where two people fight for their forbidden love, standing tall in the face of what ever difficulty comes their way. It's okay when you accept this and the cutesy moments from the first touch of fingers and first kiss in front of the tree of life are all very sweet. But it does lack realism with the closest it comes is the mention of what may happen to Meriam if she is caught with Jason.
But what "The Princess & the Marine" does have is simple appeal and most of that comes from Marisol Nichols as Meriam and she plays the part in a similar way to Parminder Nagra in "Bend it Like Beckham". There is something actually refreshing by the very innocent characterisation and those cute moments such as the finger touch do make you smile. Nichols is not alone and Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Jason whilst not delivering such a sweet character does come across as a good guy even if he does look about 10 years older, which is surprising as Gosselaar in real life is younger than Nichols.
Now I mentioned that this is just part of their story and the movie ends with them basically fighting attempts to extradite Meriam's back to Bahrain, although there is more to it than that as there is other drama. But their story didn't end there or in 2001 when this movie as made and it was certainly not the fairytale ending that this movie plays out as. I won't say what happens but it is there to be found on the net if you want to know the true story.
What this all boils down to is that "The Princess & the Marine" is a fairytale adaptation of a true story and is full of the cutesy romance which younger audiences will find appealing. It isn't in the least bit gritty and rarely feels authentic but if you are in the mood for cutesy, fairytale fluff it will fill a gap.