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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 24.47%
Average: 26.6%
Pretty Bad: 11.7%
Total Crap: 7.45%

4 reviews, 70 user ratings

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Princess Diaries, The
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by Stephen Groenewegen

"Facing the Truth"
3 stars

Walt Disney Pictures' The Princess Diaries was apparently the only film with a 'G' rating released during the American summer (even animated fare like Shrek and Atlantis: The Lost Empire attracts a higher rating these days). This slick new film from director Garry Marshall (Runaway Bride, Pretty Woman, Beaches) seems pitched towards younger female audiences.

When 15 year old Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway) learns she was born a princess, she isn't overjoyed. Along with her best friend Lilly (Heather Matarazzo from Welcome to the Dollhouse), the shy daydreaming Mia is the butt of the jokes of her San Francisco high school "A grade". Anything that draws further attention to herself is unwelcome - Mia's expectation is to grow up invisible. But her paternal grandmother, Queen Renaldi of Genovia - a small, European, non-existent (in case you failed geography) country - insists it's time for Mia to face up to who she really is.

The Princess Diaries is agreeable entertainment, and offers a few laughs. Mia soon realises there are worse things than being part of a wealthy, powerful family, or the recipient of a glamorous makeover. Like Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday, she must learn to live with media attention (the scenes of media frenzy have an extra, calculated pathos in this post-Diana age). And when everyone at school suddenly wants to be with her, Mia must also remember who her real friends are.

Playing the Genovian Queen, in her first major film role in 15 years, is Julie Andrews. It's dream casting. Andrews' crisp and controlled tones, perfect enunciation and regal bearing make her an obvious royal. Age has heightened her elegance, and her movements retain the poise and control of a practised performer. Andrews can throw a film completely off-balance if she's playing too much against type, but she seems comfortable here. It's not a demanding role, but Andrews obviously has fun giving Mia her "princess lessons" (a reversal of the role Andrews played on stage in My Fair Lady).

The rest of the cast is fine. Matarazzo frequently shines in her small role. Making her film debut alongside Hathaway (who occasionally resembles a young Julia Roberts) is pop singer Mandy Moore as a bitchy classmate of Mia's. Her fans can rest assured - she's given a song to perform (though it has no relevance whatsoever to the plot). The direction is slick, the cinematography of Karl Walter Lindenlaub is colourful, and the tone of Gina Wendkos's screenplay (based on the novel by Meg Cabot) is perky. There's a couple of knowing nods to the gay men in the audience (who will be attracted by the presence of Ms Andrews), but nothing to frighten the youngsters.

Graham Greene, reviewing films for The Spectator 65 years ago, made a pertinent comment that continues to apply to films like The Princess Diaries:

"[This] is the common idea of popular entertainment, a mild self-pity, something soothing, something gently amusing... 'People want to be taken out of themselves,' the film executive retorts under the mistaken impression that the critic is demanding a kind of Zolaesque realism... 'They don't want to be depressed', but an excited audience is never depressed: if you excite your audience first, you can put over what you will of horror, suffering, truth." (review of Rhythm on the Range, The
Spectator, 14 August 1936)

I'm not asking for much horror and suffering in a fairy tale like this, but a little wit or truth or excitement would be welcome. Instead, the sum of The Princess Diaries is a warm feeling. Like so many other films, it has no distinguishing dialogue or scenes to keep it alive in the memory.

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originally posted: 09/04/01 08:14:04
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User Comments

7/11/10 art A COCAMAMIE MOVIE! 1 stars
1/17/09 Shaun Wallner Wonderful story. 5 stars
1/13/09 Anonymous. a cute little girl movie that i watch when i'm depressing or something...:D 4 stars
11/23/07 art a rainy day movie 3 stars
11/02/06 Kiwi Ok,taken w/ a grain of salt,completely different from the book,robert schwartzmen is cute 3 stars
10/31/06 danigyo GOOD n waaoooooo AMAZING ! 5 stars
9/02/06 Stanley Thai A funny and a very good film. 4 stars
8/15/06 David Cohen The moral: Monarchies are "cool" and cool people can do anything they want to others 2 stars
12/14/05 cartoon mania it's one of the good 'nice' movies 4 stars
10/07/05 prarthana good 3 stars
6/05/05 BoyInTheDesignerBubble Pretty Woman made for teens. 3 stars
3/10/05 Steph good 4 stars
3/03/05 Stewart Lame, stupid, ridiculous, endless, dull, and boring teeny-bopper princess fluff. 1 stars
2/02/05 Jeff Anderson Very, very predictable, but the incredibly smoking hot ANNE HATHAWAY SAVES THIS FILM!!!!!!! 3 stars
12/09/04 Kristina Williams trite, stupid, idiotic...but hey, it is Disney 2 stars
10/15/04 rhyan dave candelario wow!1men its awesome!!!what's the title of the movie again?. 1 stars
9/23/04 Rachel A fantastic film and for me it is a definite want to see again 5 stars
6/16/04 anggia parasamya good movie, good cast ,especially robert schwartzman 4 stars
6/05/04 Dean Rapp OMG those eyebrows 3 stars
5/31/04 Nobody Clumsy ordinary girl tries to become royalty. cue laughter 1 stars
8/31/03 I Would Predictable, and at times boring, but the cast are perfect. 3 stars
6/09/03 Clarise It was amazing 5 stars
3/04/03 Angelina best movie 5 stars
12/12/02 spacecowboy the trick is not to think. 3 stars
10/27/02 CR I love this film! IT ROCKS! Best Little Girlie, Chicky movie around! 5 stars
9/12/02 palaboy101 She's trying so hard to act dumb! King Ralph is a better movie than this pathetic slop. 2 stars
8/22/02 yvonne the ebst movie ever 5 stars
5/20/02 Linda this was wery good film.i like it. 4 stars
5/15/02 Blake This movie was the best family film that i have ever seen 5 stars
4/13/02 Christine Vo due that movies fucking kicked a$$ they did a grreat job getting robert to play micheal ! 5 stars
3/23/02 Rebecca it was a great movie give it very well done 5 stars
3/20/02 alice worth watching! 4 stars
3/17/02 Pinnara I think it's quite nice and also provides some thoughts, too! 4 stars
3/01/02 Chowie Here's a nice piece of shit 1 stars
2/20/02 Xaver The book is better. Andrews and Helizondo are a good team. 3 stars
2/14/02 Tiffany Faye Hawthorne Lame. Saw it on a day when I also had good BM, so could'nt compete for highlight of my day. 3 stars
2/06/02 Angela all in all, it's a family-friendly disney film. oh yeah, robert schwartzman is a god!! 4 stars
2/03/02 Allison Lafferty With or without her singing voice, a ROYAL pain seeing Julie Andrews reduced to such a role 3 stars
1/12/02 Kent Extremely predictable, poor script - typical teen flick! 2 stars
1/11/02 Michelle I luv Rob Schwartzman! Even if the movie sux watch it to see him! 4 stars
1/06/02 y2mckay Watched under duress, Enjoyed even less. Teenybopper crapola. 2 stars
1/02/02 laura AMAZING!! 5 stars
12/26/01 Tasha-Marie Moore AWESOME MOVIE...i'm watchin' it RIGHT NOW!!!! got it for x-mas. HIGHLY reccomended!!! 5 stars
12/25/01 alison i loved robert schwartzman...he did a real nice job. I still love the movie! It is awesome! 5 stars
12/23/01 Crystal it was neat, and Rob Schwartzman was great! i cant say that he wasnt attractive either. :) 5 stars
12/19/01 Jessica Robert is soooooooooo cute I WISH THERE IS PRINCESS"S DIARY 2 AND 3 5 stars
12/19/01 Monya_t This is the worst movie in the history of Shitty-assed films. Period. 1 stars
12/02/01 aurora robert is ohhhhhhh soooooo handsome 5 stars
11/22/01 Agnes It is totally awesome cuz Robert Szhwartzman is such a hottie , Anne is a cutie too 5 stars
10/27/01 Lydia This movie is great , the typical 21st century fairy tale,I love it ! 5 stars
9/21/01 Mia Syerina Anne Hathaway and Robert Schwartman are great actor and actres 5 stars
9/09/01 Deanna Long Cleanse your palate of it's coating of sturm und drang with this lover-ly fluff. 4 stars
9/06/01 D.K. the movie was totally awesome cuz it had rob schwartzman in it 5 stars
9/05/01 Harry Eylar A very intertaining AND enjoyable film 5 stars
9/05/01 Hanna I thought the movie was cute... not spectacular, but what did you expect? 4 stars
9/05/01 Revster.Jeffster kind of a snooze... but Julie Andrews is still the epitome of class- 3 stars
9/05/01 S. How nice to experience pleasant good humor at the movies. 5 stars
9/04/01 Ally I thought it was enjoyable, if fluffy. Bit too much stress on physical appearance, however. 4 stars
9/01/01 Suzz aimed at 12 y/o girls which is fine if you are one and not fine if you aren't 3 stars
8/26/01 Ray Great breakout film for Annie. 5 stars
8/26/01 kharisma a fun family film...if you're in the mood for a no-thinking-necessary movie, this is it 4 stars
8/24/01 mandie it's so rare to find a movie with a happy ending that doesn't have a "kiddie" story 5 stars
8/24/01 Liz a fun movie if youre not interested in seeing something too substantial. 4 stars
8/22/01 The Boy In The Designer Bubble Julie Andrews is a goddess. It was worth it just to see her. 5 stars
8/05/01 hilary i was the best G movie i've ever seen!!! 4 stars
8/03/01 Cindy Ruggerio Cute, funny, FAMILY, film. This critic is clearly a man, no explosions..boring right? MEN! 4 stars
6/25/01 Heidi Really cute! 5 stars
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  03-Aug-2001 (G)
  DVD: 03-Aug-2004


  13-Sep-2001 (PG)

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