Starring: Anne Hathaway, Julie Andrews, Héctor Elizondo
Director: Garry Marshall
Running Time: 115 mins
The Princess Diaries is an American film about an unpopular teenage girl who discovers to her surprise that she is part of the royal family of the small European nation of Genovia, and must learn the ropes to become a true princess.
As much as I like a pleasant, family-friendly fairy tale, The Princess Diaries is far from the world’s most endearing watch. Despite likeable performances from Anne Hathaway and particularly Julie Andrews, the film really drags from start to finish, with a less-than-magical take on what should be a really magical story.
What’s frustrating about The Princess Diaries is that it doesn’t know what sort of film it wants to be. Is it a coming-of-age movie? A real-life fairy tale? A simple, fluffy movie for kids? The film tries to juggle all three genres and more, yet comes up short with a messy style that’s really difficult to fall in love with.
As a result, what you get is a bit of mish-mash of Disney tropes and some more unorthodox ideas that make The Princess Diaries far from the sweet, magical story that it’s surely meant to be.
Its comedy isn’t great, with far too much reliance on fluffy, basic humour for young kids, yet the main themes of its story seem to be directed at an older audience, with a half-baked coming-of-age tale taking centre stage.
The movie does have a couple of nice performances in Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews, particularly from Andrews who gives her all in bringing a little bit of fairy tale magic to the table as the traditionalist Queen of a small European country. However, the rest of the characters outside the main two are largely forgettable, often within the movie itself, which left me often puzzled as to who half the people were at times.
It’s a real shame, because I can tell that The Princess Diaries is a movie made with love and affection, but it’s nowhere near the sweet, charming story that it really could be.
Despite the likeability of Hathaway and Andrews, there isn’t all that much about the film that will really sweep you off your feet, lacking the magic of a great Disney movie, and the emotional depth of a good coming-of-age story. So, that’s why I’m giving The Princess Diaries a 6.8 overall.