It's not often that a film distributor misses the most opportune time to release a film, but in Australia Icon Films has done just that with The Prince and Me. It's seven weeks late. It was released in the USA on 30th April, and if it came out while Mary Donaldson from Hobart was walking out of a Church in Copenhagen as Her Royal Highness the Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, it would have done a roaring trade. And it still might, because in both cases we see that sometimes fairytales do come true. And The Prince and Me is practically Mary's story, except it is partially set in the USA, with a rocky courtship.
It is decided that the playboy Crown Prince Edvard 'Eddie' Valdemar Dangaard (Mably) of Denmark needs to take a little more responsibility for his life. His family pack him off to a mid-western University in the USA. He has to remain completely anonymous while there, except for the minder/butler the family send to look after him. Eddie's main intention is to have fun and sleep with girls. Instead he falls in love with the seriously scholarly and deliciously sweet Paige Morgan (Stiles). She is, initially, less than impressed with the immature Eddie, and even less so when she finds out he is the Crown Prince of Denmark. And it is giving nothing away to tell you that it works out in the end.
If writers Mark Amin and Katherine Fugate were unaware of Ms Donaldson's story, this film is a great coincidence. Putting aside the fluke factor, The Prince and Me is just passable. The early part of it is surprisingly flat and dull, with a car race that seems interminable and a Danish press that don't seem to care that the Crown Prince has dropped out of sight. It takes over an hour for Paige to learn who Eddie is, which builds neither interest or tension, and it is only when the romance is thwarted that the film gets some real energy.
Given the budget the royal coronation and engagement scenes look cheap, and it is distracting to have the Danish Royal family speak English at home with upper class accents.
The best thing about this film is that it might inspire a local writer to tell the tale of a girl from the most ancient of lands who met a prince in a pub at the Sydney Olympics and started a journey to becoming a princess within the most ancient monarchy in Europe.
But no one would believe it!
Fr Richard Leonard SJ is the Director of the Australian Catholic Film Office.