‘The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement’ is goofy & light-hearted

[rating=2]Starring: Anne Hathaway, Heather Matarazzo, John Rhys-Davies, Hector Elizondo, Julie Andrews
Director(s): Garry Marshall
Writer(s): Screenplay by Shondra Rhimes; Story by Gina Wendkos and Shonda Rhimes; Based upon characters created by Meg Cabot

Anne Hathaway gets wooed by John Rhys-Davies in 'The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement'
Anne Hathaway gets wooed by John Rhys-Davies in ‘The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement’

How do you criticize a movie like this? I mean, honestly? Sure I could cut into it, but seriously, that’d be like picking on the buck-toothed kid in the playground. It’d be so easy, but it would just be mean.

Princess Diaries 2 is a goofy, light-hearted piece of film. It’s got more fluff than cotton candy on a pillow. It’s just plain innocent fun. Anne Hathaway is adorably clumsy, and the story is nearly cartoonish in its treatment of the characters. It’s a live action Disney film in the tradition of harmless, pretty Disney pictures.

What else can I say? How about talking about the story a bit.

This film takes up some years after the first film (which I honestly never saw). Princess Mia has graduated from college and returns home to resume her duties as a member of the royal family of Genovia. She learns that she must begin her lessons to become Queen, replacing the ever enchanting and elegant Julie Andrews.

However, there’s a corrupt minister with interests on the throne. Claiming his nephew would be the rightful heir, he points to a law that declares a woman cannot become Queen unless she is married.

So the hunt begins for a suitable man to marry Princess Mia. After one is found, the minister uses his nephew to try and ruin the princess’s reputation and prevent her marriage. Hilarious accidents and unexpected love pop up over and over again, some of which are actually pretty funny.

For my part, I actually liked the bits between Julie Andrews and Hector Elizondo. The two share a secret love that may or may not have a happy ending, but it’s probably the only adult-oriented portion of the story. And while you have to search high and low for some really clever humor, one of them can be found in a brief scene in which Princess Mia pressures two ministers to allow a special governmental retreat to be used as a temporary orphanage. The gag is quick, by you should listen when the two brothers say their names.

Trust me, it’s pretty funny.

Okay, I may cut into the film just a little bit. But, I promise, I’ll be nice.

Not having seen the first film, I can’t approach this as a comparison. I can only take this movie on its own merits. Sure, it is clearly meant as harmless, nice fun, but the film could have done a better job. Very little is developed, as the characters all remain pretty thin. The movie jumps through time pretty quick, and never really seems to stop long enough to have any real, meaningful moments.

The antics of Princess Mia are the focus, obviously, and the story doesn’t spend much time on anything else. And that’s a real shame, because I would have preferred to see some of the smaller characters get a little more screen time. Plus, the movie seemed hell bent on not letting the bad guys get too bad. John Rhys-Davies plays the corrupt minister, but his efforts to usurp the throne for his nephew are pretty lame. It was as if they didn’t want the audience to dislike him, even though he’s supposed to be the bad guy.

There are some good bonus features, including bloopers — which are always fun, in my opinion — and some deleted scenes. One of the things I liked about the deleted scenes is because they come with comments by Garry Marshall, the film’s director, explaining the scenes and why they were cut.

There’s also a music video featuring Kelly Clarkson, who has a nice voice, but I think it’s a little weird that the American Idol winners all seem to end up as teenie-bobber fodder.

Rated: G
Run Time:  1 hour., 53 mins.

Michael Sheridan

Michael Sheridan has written, directed and produced more than a dozen short films under the banner of Maynard Films, and has worked as a writer for more than a decade for websites, magazines and newspapers.

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