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"What a Girl Wants" is a re-tooling/re-telling of William Douglas Home's
"The Reluctant Debutante" with the devastatingly charming Amanda Bynes in
the title role; in fact 'charming' is the operative word here -everything
about the movie is charming, and charmed.
The casting: impeccably superb. Amanda never hits a false note throughout the proceedings, creating a character who is genuinely believable, lovable and worth cheering for (there was a LOT of clapping in the theatre at various points in the film - I clapped AND whistled, myself); Kelly Preston is radiant as Daphne's mother Libby, a musician who still deeply loves Henry, Daphne's father, but has gone on with her life, and Colin Firth (as Daphne's father, Henry Dashwood) is a revelation here, in that he literally becomes more and more attractive as the tale unfolds - as he becomes more and more who he really is underneath his repressed exterior (the scene where he dons his black leather pants and prances in front of the mirror to the horror of his prim prude of a fiancee is priceless), and Oliver James as musician Ian, Daphne's love interest, makes a memorable splash here as well. Everyone else is perfect in their roles too (even the dog rocks).
The screenplay and direction: completely on the mark. Never gets heavy-handed, contrived, mean-spirited, cloying or tedious, believe it or not. The charm is sustained throughout in a dazzling balance of comedy, heartfelt emotion, conflict and growth, culminating in one of the most satisfying resolutions I've experienced in a movie in a long time.
Occasionally, a movie can have predictable elements without that being a bad thing; sometimes predictable elements can be pleasurable -- you realize what's going to happen but you also realize you're in such capable hands that you actually anticipate the playing-out of the scenes you know will occur. Sometimes it's not WHAT is done in a movie but HOW it's achieved, and WHO is doing the achieving.
Okay, I love this movie. It's sweet, it's simple, it's cute, and fun. It's clever and well put together. The scenery is great (what's not to love about London)? And Firth and Bynes were adorable. Colin Firth is great no matter what movie he's in, but Amanda Bynes (I've been a fan of hers since she was on Nickelodeon) was fun to watch and a perfect fit for the role of fun-loving Daphne. The rest of the cast was good as well, I loved the jokes that were thrown in and the silly/cute subplots going on (Peach and Pear). I appreciated that this movie didn't take itself too seriously, yet was certainly not all fluff or nonsense, either. I loved how this movie primarily dealt with a father-daughter relationship (so refreshing from other so-called teen movies that often only deal with a teenage romance) and I also loved how the main character, Daphne, was not angry or angsty, she was refreshingly fun and optimistic. Overall this is a good, clean fun movie that can be appreciated by all ages and audiences.
The folks banging this movie have to get real. It's about an average girl (Bynes) who gets to meet her dad, who's in the process of running for major political office in England. It's not about Yankee superiority over the Brits (sheesh!), it's a simple fantasy about the effect a teenage girl has on her once-stuffy dad in stuffy society. If you're politically offended by this movie, imagine Amanda as a carefree Portugese girl visiting her long-lost dad, a member of U.S. Congress from Massachusetts, and chill out. That being said, Amanda Bynes is a cool and attractive leading lady/girl and plays very well with the other characters in this film. It's all been done millions of times before, and it's not Oscar material, but it was a pleasant diversion for me.
I was expecting a really bad, boring teen film like the Lizzie Mcguire
movie, but this movie was entertaining. It's about a girl in America,
Daphne, who goes to England to see her dad for the first time. He's a Lord,
who is running for political elections, so of course, his handlers don't
want any bad publicity. He takes a liking to her, but his finance and
snooty soon-to-be stepdaughter don't like her. Daphne turns out to be a
hit with the poparazi and has a lot of fun. After going to so many fancy
parties, she starts to forget who she really is, but her new guy makes her
realize where her true values lie. Along the way Lord Dashwood sees he's
missing out on adventure and his true love, Daphne's mom. Will he give up
the political dream to become an adventurer again? Watch to find out, but
since this is a light-hearted film, you probably know the answer. There are
some funny scenes throughout. And I liked the music.
FINAL VERDICT: An entertaining clean, fun film that all ages can enjoy.
This was a cute, clean movie that you can sit down and watch with your kids.
Daphne has never met her father, so she takes off for England to find him.
She discovers he is in the middle of an election for some public office.
Daphne has to choose between becoming what he wants her to be and staying
true to herself. And dad has to make a choice about what is really
In response to the reviewer who slammed the movie as being anti British, and saying it was trying to say the American way is better, that is utter nonesense. This was not a typical British family--they were royalty and associated with people like them. Do you suppose the real Queen would find someone like Daphne amusing? Daphne's boyfriend was a decent young man who was also a bit off the wall and his own person--but he was an ordinary English kid, not a member of any royal family. There are circles here in America where Daphne's free spirit attitude would be frowned upon, too. Every country has "classes" that are snobbish and uptight and every country has "Daphnes"--good kids who just want to be themselves.
As far as I'm concerned, this movie gives us the perfect 'time out' from
daily grind. It's sweet, charming, and has a fine cast. Outstanding, of
course, is Colin Firth. The reviewers who claim that this movie is great
for the "under-13 and over 80" crowd just don't get it. There are many of
us who will love Mr. Darcy forever, and who are in dire need of more Colin
Firth movies. He is, of course, absolutely gorgeous in the movie, and has
lot of screen time. I would pay to watch and listen to him read a
book, so I will see this movie again and definitely will be among the
in line to buy the DVD.
It was strange to see Anna Chancellor as his fiancee, a part which she played in much the same way that she portrayed Caroline Bingley. Her character wasn't good enough for Mr. Darcy, nor is this one suited for Lord Dashwood.
Although numerous people have criticized the sweetness of the movie, I, who am hopelessly romantic, loved its ending. I left the theater feeling better than when I entered. (I felt the same way when "Bridget Jones's Diary" ended. Actually, I couldn't wait to see it again, since the final kiss was probably the best kiss I've seen in a movie. I digress. Sorry.) Although I realize that this movie isn't going to win any Academy Awards, it is still a wonderful way to spend an hour and a half.
I was actually surprised by this movie. Yes, it was probably conceived by a marketing team. Yes, it isn't very original and yes, some of it is embarassingly obvious. That being said, I was very entertained by this movie. I thought it was well directed, and well acted. I wouldn't be surprised to see Amanda Bynes start taking on more serious roles in the future with great success. This movie does what it set out to do: entertain teenage girls. Anyone who is a fan of lighthearted tween comedies should check this movie out. It is better than most of the teenage girl movies out there and much better than that stupid Big Fat Greek Wedding movie. **1/2 out of ****
I saw the movie with my mid-teen sister who's exactly the target
audience of this film. Now there are many films that are not for
everybody, they do not excel in acting, directing, screenplay or
effects to be called a 'good movie'. They are meant for certain part of
the audience who, if it sticks to the specific formula, just love them.
Now I wasn't meant to love "What a girl wants", but I guess, thinking
from my point of view, it's a good diversion from me.
The script is above the level I was expecting and young Amanda Bynes acted quite well. Colin Firth seemed a little wooden. There are bits of little innocent humors in places that makes it a relief to watch. The shooting locations and the sets are fine. The soundtrack too is catchy. So even the storyline is very very shallow, one should not complain or analyze too much about such films.
I went into the theater today expecting a good movie. I was wrong. Why was I
wrong? Because this was a GREAT movie!!!
The trailers made this film look INSANELY cheesy. Since I know from experience that trailers are highly inaccurate, I was expecting a PARTIALLY cheesy flick. But what I saw had almost no cheese to it at all. What A Girl Wants, despite its unfortunate title, is what a LOT of people want, combining drama, comedy, romance, and self-discovery in an hour and 45 minutes of enjoyment.
I didn't say insight, mind you, I said self-discovery. This is purely a narrative, not a deep thought movie, and it wouldn't have worked any other way. Kudos to Dennie Gordon for not trying to accent a theme that we're already familiar with, rather, she just throws it into the story, almost casually, so that we see the message of individuality but aren't repulsed by an overly blatant moral.
Many of this film's detractors say that it's a rip of The Princess Diaries. Not true. Yes, it's an adaptation, but it's based on "The Reluctant Debutante", which was around for DECADES before Diaries was even conceived. Besides, while it is a little formulaic, there are a few twists.
Many say it portrays inaccurate American/British stereotypes. Not true. Daphne and her mother are CLEARLY presented to be NOTHING like the average American, and Lord Dashwood only behaves so properly because of his political position.
Amanda Bynes as Daphne Reynolds finally gets a chance to show of her incredible dramatic skills. (Moody's Point had too much of a satirical tone to properly show this.) Bynes has her glory moments of comedy alongside her touching moments as the girl who wants to understand who she is.
Colin Firth as Henry Dashwood. Come on, who didn't already know Firth kicks butt? He is the center of every scene Bynes isn't in, and he carries that weight well.
Eileen Atkins as Lady Dashwood does a tremendous job with her supporting role, who is far more crucial to the plot than anyone expected.
Oliver James handles his theatrical debut well, showing much more emotion than the previews indicated. Libby Reynolds isn't a fully round character, but that's the script's fault, not Kelly Preston's. Both are capable singers, and considering that Bynes's one major performance flaw is lack of musical ability, I'm glad these two sang instead of her.
In fact, basically the entire cast here was superb.
See it, you'll be glad you did. Fine entertainment for almost everybody.
I have read several reviews of this film, and I have to say that men just aren't going to "get" this one. Our local paper's reviewer said he just didn't get the "stars in the eyes" of the women leaving the theater. His review didn't even MENTION Colin Firth. Well, I will! Colin is what is going to attract women to this film, and he does not disappoint. He is the best thing about the movie. Amanda Bynes is cute, and I enjoyed her too. The rest of the cast is quite good too...Anna Chancellor (Caroline Bingley, for those Pride and Prejudice fans...), and Eileen Atkins, particularly. I found the storyline about the daughter longing for her father and the father who just discovered her quite sweet and moving. Yes, the script was a bit sloppy and the humor often falls flat, but overall, Colin Firth's performance made it worth seeing for me. This is definitely a chick flick, though :)
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