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There is a reason why up until now I hadn't bothered with "The Princess Diaries", I'm not or have ever been a 12 year old girl. But whilst not in the target demographic it did mark Anne Hathaway's movie debut and for that reason alone I found myself watching this modern fairytale. Now I am sure 12 year old girls will love this as at is your common all garden Princess wish fulfilment scenario full of simple humour and girly type things. But any adult who finds themselves watching "The Princess Diaries" with a child will most likely find themselves wondering what all the fuss is about.
Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway - One Day) is your average teenage girl, well your average dorky teenage girl whose most pressing concern is not being sick when she has to talk in class. But that all changes when her Grandmother comes to visit as unbeknown to Mia her Grandmother is Queen Clarisse Renaldi (Julie Andrews - One Special Night) from Genovia and not only does that make her a Princess but she is next in line to the throne. Whilst Queen Clarisse and her team set to work turning Mia from a frizzy haired, thick eye browed teen into a Princess, Mia has to come to terms with her future and whether she really wants a life in the public eye.
To put it bluntly the storyline to "The Princess Diaries" has been done before in one form or another as it is your fairytale of a young girl suddenly being immersed into royal life. In this case it is the story of Mia who is totally unaware that her father was a Prince making her a Princess but also that she is next in line to the throne. As such much of what "The Princess Diaries" is about is the turmoil of being thrown into a Royal world where Mia is made over from being a high school dork to a beautiful Princess. And of course the emotional difficulties being thrown into the public eye brings with it, all of which will be familiar to those over the age of 16.
But for any 12 year old girl who watches "The Princess Diaries" it will work with plenty of girly amusement. There is to start with the incredibly dorkish Mia and her face pulling let alone her friend Lilly and then there is the transition from a hunched girl into an upright belle. It's nothing more than you expect and whilst entertaining for young girls it serves up nothing new for any adult watching.
Plus of course being a fairytale about a Princess there is some obligatory romance which to be honest is cringe worthy. I am sorry but the whole series of scenes about Mia hoping her leg lifts when she has a kiss is hysterically bad. I'm not even sure young girls will find the romantic side of "The Princess Diaries" that good and it most certainly doesn't deliver anything for adults.
Maybe I am being critical as what Director Garry Marshall has done is deliver a movie for 12 year old girls and the array of obvious jokes and minor romantic scenes will probably entertain. But at the same time it all seems so shallow and obvious, almost to the point that it just recycles ideas and scenes which have featured in other similar fairytale rom-coms. You just wish that there was something else, something unique to make "The Princess Diaries" have a point and not just another movie to give people something to do.
The only thing in "The Princess Diaries" which might slightly interest adults is the casting of Julie Andrews as Queen Clarisse Renaldi and to be honest Andrews does deliver a sense of regality. But that is all there is to Julie Andrews performance and almost seems a waste of her talents. At least Anne Hathaway in her movie debut shows what talents she has got and whilst the transition from dork to Princess may border on the cringe worthy her goofing around and face pulling is surprisingly good fun.
What this all boils down to is that "The Princess Diaries" works in the sense that it delivers a fairytale romantic comedy for it's target market. But for anyone else who finds themselves watching will be left numb by the experience as not only is there little which is original about it but it is also incredibly shallow.