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The Princess Diaries

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Princess Diaries

Starring: Anne Hathaway, Julie Andrews
Director: Garry Marshall
Rated: G
RunTime: 111 Minutes
Release Date: August 2001
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Hector Elizondo, Heather Matarazzo, Larry Miller, Caroline Goodall, Sean O'Bryan, Robert Schwartzman, Erik von Detten, Mandy Moore

Review by Susan Granger
2½ stars out of 4

The real significance of this formulaic, mildly amusing story about an awkward teen who is horrified to discover that she's really royalty is its success at the box-office. It opened as the second-biggest live-action G-rated film, topped only by "101 Dalmatians" - meaning there's definitely an audience that's hungry for family entertainment, given the right packaging. And there's no better "packager" than Garry Marshall ("Pretty Woman") who skews the comedy to appeal to young girls, adding a spoonful of Julie Andrews ("Mary Poppins") for their mothers.

In this contemporary fairy-tale, nerdy, klutzy, frizzy-haired Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway) is about to celebrate her 16th birthday when her free-spirited, single artist mother (Caroline Goodall) casually mentions that her grandmother is coming to San Francisco to meet her for tea. That's odd because Mia's never met her late father nor his mother, Queen Clarisse Renaldi (Julie Andrews) of Genovia, a tiny, mythical principality between France and Spain. And when shy, wide-eyed Mia's told she'll inherit the throne, she's torn between curiosity and terror. Guided by Andrews and aide-de-camp (Hector Elizondo), Mia's lessons in prim, proper Princess behavior generate smiles and a few chuckles but her transformation from ugly duckling into swan comes as no surprise. Heather Matazarro scores as Mia's social-activist pal, but it's venerable Julie Andrews who commands attention, particularly in a sequence in which she cleverly "knights" a policeman and the conductor of the trolley-car into which Mia has accidentally crashed her Mustang. Despite Gina Wendkos's lame, predictable script, on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "The Princess Diaries" is a refreshing if schmaltzy, silly 6 - and a sequel is already planned.

Copyright 2001 Susan Granger

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