A Cinderella Story

Starring Anne Hathaway, Julie Andrews, Hector Elizondo, Chris Pine. Directed by Garry Marshall.
Running Time: 115 minutes.
Rated: Rated PG.

Distributors gave film critics a choice with The Princess Diaries 2, see it at a private screening, or, go to a premiere with the film's target audience. I chose the latter, just to see who constituted the PD2 audience. It is predominantly young girls 5 to 12 years of age. And while it fed their fantasies about becoming a princess, they didn't seem to find it royally funny or majestically entertaining.

This film opens four years on from where we left off in the last one. Princess Mia (Hathaway) has completed her university studies in the USA and, as her 21st birthday approaches, returns to Genovia to accede to the throne.

There is just one obstacle; Parliament demands the enforcement of a law that stipulates that a female heir to the throne must be married before she can claim the crown. Queen Clarisse (Andrews) and Mia have one month to arrange a marriage. Waiting in the wings to claim the throne is the dashing Lord Nicholas Devereaux (Pine) and his scheming Uncle Viscount Maybury (John Rhys-Davies).

There are so many annoying things in this grab-for-cash-film it's hard to know where to start. Although Genovia is in Europe, it seems all the inhabitants speak with American or British accents. And while on accents, even Mia's fiancé, the very dapper English Duke of Kenilworth speaks with a working class accent. Highly unlikely.

The script is regularly clumsy and the acting is hammy to match. The art direction is too busy and distracting, and not even Julie Andrews singing (poorly), along with the myriad other songs, can save the day.

The original Princess Diaries was a surprise hit, but the producer should have left it at that. This sequel is overdrawn, overacted and over long. As a result, me and my 400 young girlfriends, were over the film half an hour after it started.

Fr Richard Leonard SJ is the director of the Australian Catholic Film Office.

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