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Overall Rating

Awesome: 21.67%
Worth A Look31.67%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 18.33%
Total Crap: 28.33%

4 reviews, 36 user ratings

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What a Girl Wants
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by Brian McKay

"What a man wants is to get the hell off of this plane"
1 stars

At the tail end of a grueling ten hour flight back from Tokyo, I had already used up the battery in my MP3 player and read until my eyes burned. I had two viable options left at my disposal - sleep, or watch the inflight movie. I've never been good at sleeping on planes, so I decided to watch this piece of fluff. I'd already managed to avoid the worst films on the in-flight roster (NATIONAL SECURITY, BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE, and HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN TEN DAYS). "Compared to those travesties", I reasoned, "How bad can this really be?"

Well, I found out just how bad. Even if real sleep evaded me, I should have just feigned it. What was meant as a time killer actually became a time stretcher, making the last couple of hours of the flight feel like at least three or four. Now granted, I am a male in my thirties, about as far removed from the target audience as I can get (unless you count those truly non-discriminating gents who will watch anything with teenage girls in it purely for the potential wank value - and even that sorry lot would be disappointed here). This is a movie geared strictly toward American teenage girls. Now, having overheard a few conversations among teenage girls while out in public, I can firmly conclude that they are a highly vapid breed. But are they really dumb enough to find Amanda Bynes bug-eyed twit character and her extremely broad and lazy attempts at comedy funny? And are they really simple enough to buy into the film's flimsy cinderella plot, with the added bonus of a borderline Electra complex? We can only pray that the fairly weak box office returns are a sign of hope for our young women.

The story revolves around Daphne (Bynes), a 17 year old girl raised by single mom Libby (Kelly Preston) in New York. She flies to London to meet her father, Lord Henry Dashwood (Colin Firth), who has had no idea up to this point that Daphne even existed. After recovering from his initial shock, he invites Daphne to stay and tries to gently graft her into uppercrust Brit society. Naturally, she ends up bucking convention with her free-spirited ways, and manages to avoid potentially disastrous mishaps by winning the aristocracy over with her good old fresh-faced American girl pluck. Meanwhile, she has a handsome new boyfriend fall into her lap almost from the moment she gets off the plane, an equally free-spirited English lad who whispers sweet catch-phrases of encouragement like "Why do you try so hard to fit in, when you're born to stand out?" (Oh Jesus, just kill me now). And of course there's the plotting fiancee' of Lord Henry, and her bitchy teenage daughter, a pair of bluebloods who are only interested in climbing the social heierarchy and do everything in their power to keep the poor little Yank girl down.

This film boasts some of the worst writing and acting I've seen in a long time, and Bynes is by far the worst offender. How she became popular enough to warrant her own movie, after being in only a handfull of cable television shows and exactly one stint in a theatrical release prior to this, I can only hazard a guess. Granted, I usually don't expect much of a performance out of the average teen actors anyway, but after some of the gritty performances from the kids in Battle Royale 2, who were able to impress me even though I barely even speak their language, watching Bynes go through the motions with about as much expressiveness as a deer in headlights is a grueling task indeed.

If the film has a saving grace, it's that Colin Firth gives a pretty decent performance and renders the movie's only really likeable character. Most defenders of this train wreck will cite how good Firth is in the role, and to a certain extent, that's true. But one halfway decent character cannot save a wretched movie, people. Firth does get some mileage out what could have been a completely two-dimensional character in the hands of a lesser actor. But even so, he carries a genial look on his face that seems to belie the feeling that he should have picked a better script. Still, his deadpan delivery is the only attempt at humor in the film that doesn't fall completely flat. And while there is almost enough substance in the father-daughter relationship to tug at the old heartstrings, the package that substance is delivered in is so dripping with smarm and schmaltz that the whole thing ends up being a soggy mess. There's very little about it that isn't utterly predictable, and naturally all major setbacks are quickly and easily overcome after a minute and a half music montage, before the final happy ending pancake platter is doused in syrupy overkill.

If anything, this movie made me feel sorry for all the young girls out there who are growing up without a father. That's a hard reality for many, and I somehow don't think that having this shallow fairy tale pushed on them to give them unreal expectations is going to make them feel better. I'm sorry, but daddy isn't going to show up in a horse-drawn carriage and take you and mommy off to a palace. Maybe if the world really worked the way it does in this movie, we'd all be happier - but it doesn't.

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originally posted: 08/04/03 14:18:45
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User Comments

3/04/11 Jenny Old cheap shit from Colin Firth. Amanda Bynes in deserved obscurity. 2 stars
9/23/10 Emily Sand Once again Colin Firth shits on his audience. 1 stars
4/04/10 Barbara Quintessential Firth - walks thu a movie straight to the bank. 2 stars
2/22/10 Rita Critics keep excusing C Firth his choices and this is the crap you keep getting from him. 2 stars
1/24/08 Charles Tatum Pretty awful stuff, Bynes' TV work is funnier 2 stars
7/17/07 isabella its really cute and i cant wait tell hairspray amanda your great!!! 5 stars
6/10/07 Jelena This is the great film,but I still do not know the name of her handsome boyfriend....Help? 5 stars
11/07/05 Huwai It's very nice. I really like it 5 stars
5/31/05 Carolann i love this movie! its my favorit movie in the world.i love the cast. 5 stars
7/21/04 Valerie A very "girly" movie, but I like it! This movie is a must see for girls! 5 stars
4/06/04 Dean not bad 4 stars
1/19/04 george i like it 5 stars
1/14/04 Chupa Chups too much like the princess diaries...i wud hav given it "1 star" if it wasn't for Colin 2 stars
10/26/03 IRISH ITS GREAT 5 stars
10/13/03 ellie Charming 5 stars
9/13/03 Kitty B. amanda bynes sux 1 stars
8/13/03 Nancy295 I liked it - Colin is hot and Amanda was cute. 4 stars
8/13/03 Red great 5 stars
8/09/03 Ghetto Smurf I haven't seen this. I just wanted to give a shitty review 1 stars
7/11/03 Rebecca I loved this movie ! it rocks 5 stars
7/10/03 SA A feel good movie if ever there was one. Kudos to Colin Firth and the excellent cast. 5 stars
7/08/03 kz Colin Firth in leather pants...Amanda was much better than expected 4 stars
6/09/03 khurshid pretty good movie for teenagers 4 stars
6/04/03 Jenna Furr The Parent Trap without twins. Mostly works. 4 stars
4/12/03 JJ I think the movie is great. Colin Firth is great as usual and Amanda is a rising star 5 stars
4/11/03 wafer are you people fucking kidding 1 stars
4/10/03 katsat Extreme dichotomy of Ratings: Awesome/Sucks, Love/Hate, Girl/Boy 4 stars
4/09/03 H Jordan Anyone over 12 actually writing their comments here? Might explain the ratings. 1 stars
4/09/03 Linda Kemmerer Excellent family entertainment, Colin Firth and Amanda Bynes develop real chemistry. 5 stars
4/08/03 Andrew Carden Tediously Unfunny and Slow Nickelodeon Fare. Avoid At All Costs. 1 stars
4/06/03 Kaesi This film sucks. It made me WANT TO DIE just so I wouldn't have to watch it anymore... 1 stars
4/06/03 Atanu What an incompetent review from katsat. Enough with the Brit obsession already. 1 stars
4/03/03 Heather What was I thinking when I saw this? Utter horse shit 1 stars
3/29/03 obee anything with Colin Firth is worth watching 4 stars
3/28/03 kaylie horrible movie, amanda is a bad actress 1 stars
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  04-Apr-2003 (PG)


  03-Apr-2003 (PG)

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