This giant mistake of a film revolves around the film's protagonist, Mia Thermapolis (Anne Hathaway) whose entire existence depends on remaining invisible. With an exception of almost vomiting on an audience full of not so innocent spectators one can say that she's going a bang up job of it. That is until her long lost grandmother (Julie Andrews) pops up and reveals that Mia's father was the prince of a the nonexistent country of Genovia. For the simple purpose of there being a movie, Mia's father completely ignored the necessity of procreation to secure the family blood line and only had one daughter. And this makes Mia.get ready.princess of Genovia!
It turns out that her mother knew all along (how could she not), and thus Mia has a chance to throw a hissy fit. As you know, no movie of this caliber is complete without at least one of those. Ms. Thermapolis and Mia's father divorced when Mia was very young, and her mother thought it would be in her best interests to lead a normal life. You know, one where she lives in a firehouse, slides down a pole to get to the first floor, and occasionally throws darts at large boards covered in balloons filled with paint.
Mia's not too keen on being a princess, but she and her mother decide that Mia will test out the waters before she makes any major decisions. In turn, Mia finds herself taking lessons in princess etiquette, and finally getting some of that good old movie makeover magic that's the basis for the rest of the film. Enter the stereotypically flamboyant man to do the job. After gasping at just how bad Mia supposedly looks, he straightens her curly hair, ditches her glasses for contacts, tweezes her eyebrows into arched oblivion, and smothers her in makeup. In the end she doesn't look any prettier, just a lot less distinct.
The rest of the movie is just cotton candy flavored filler whose sole purpose is to make up the remaining 90 minutes of the film. Mia falls out of her chair. Mia can't put on pantyhose. The chauffer who seems to do everything except drive the limo gives Mia pep talk after pep talk Lana (Mandy Moore) terrorized the quiet kid with the oddly colored hair and Mia sticks up for him by dropping ice cream on her cheerleading uniform because as you know, all problems in Disney movies can be solved with a food fight.
Will Mia end up with the blonde, boy hand pinup (Erik Von Detten) that everyone but she can see through from the beginning of the movie? Or will she end up with the nice older brother (Robert Schwartzman) of her best friend Lily (Heather Matarazzo) whose attraction to her is made painfully obvious? Will the popular kids all of the sudden want to become her best friends only to stab her in the back, while her true friends rein supreme? Will Mia accept the crown at the end of the movie? If you don't know the answers to these questions before you even start watching the movie you were either born and are currently living under a very large rock, or one of the people who keep writing screenplays for movies like The Princess Diaries in hopes of enticing preadolescent girls across the globe.
Each character's actions are as hackneyed and predictable as the movie being viewed by the unsuspecting public. This fact alone may be the reason why not actor in this movie really shined, though potential is definitely evident. Anne Hathaway is cute and giddy without crossing the Meg Ryan line. I would have liked to see her make her on screen debut in a movie that doesn't involve her having to run into things and fall down for laughs. Julie Andrews unfortunately doesn't fair as well. I half expected her to burst into song or spin around on a hill like an escaped mental patient. At least it would have given her character some life.
Mandy Moore also makes her feature film debut playing the token nemesis of any hard working, ridiculed teenage girl; the not-so-nice cheerleader with the jock boyfriend, entourage of followers who want to be just like her, and no motive in sight. And no surprise to us, there's a little cheesy singing performance on the beach thrown in for no reason other than no singer/actress can be in a movie without showing off her pipes.
On the plus side there is a nice message about the meaning of true friendship and the rewards of remaining true to yourself. It will sit very well with the demographic audience of 12 and under. That audience will most likely enjoy The Princess Diaries. Too bad I can't say the same thing for myself.
With a "G" rating and the word "princess" in the title, I have to ask myself, what was I really expecting?