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The Princess Diaries (DVD)
Member Name: Vialdana
The Princess Diaries (DVD)
Advantages: modern fairytale, well acted, good if slightly unplausable storyline, fun to watch
Disadvantages: less likely to appeal to boys
A Few Facts
The film was made by Walt Disney and is rated as a U making it suitable for any age group to watch, but is aimed primarily at the girly pre-teen/teen market. It first appeared at the cinema back in 2001 is 1 hour and 51 minutes long making it fairly long for a U rated teen movie, and went over to DVD in 2002. It's based on the book of the same name written by Meg Cabot.
The DVD contains the film (obviously) along with a few deleted scenes, a featurette, audio commentaries, and a couple of music videos.
Mia Thermopolis is a 15yr old slightly geeky American teen. A little shy, a little gawky and terribly afraid of speaking out in public her main aim is to get through being 15 without embarrassing herself too much and hopefully getting her first 'foot popping' kiss too.
Brought up by her mum, when her paternal grandmother arrives in town and informs her that she's of royal blood, her life starts to change and in some pretty big ways. Mia finds herself taking 'princess lessons' learning how to sit, stand, talk and generally being made over. Initially furious and scared about the whole thing, and desperate to keep it quiet, Mia soon finds that it's not all bad, but she's got some really pretty massive decisions to make.
With the help of her best friends Mia has to cope with the school 'in crowd's jealousy, a media frenzy and a whole heap more before she makes her decision about whether to step up to the mark and BE a princess or not.
Characters & Acting
Mia Thermopolis is played by Anne Hathaway and when you bear in mind that this is her film debut she does a darn good job of playing this teenager as she makes her transformation from gawky to poised in this lovely light hearted modern fairytale. In fact the character transformation is wonderfully done and as we watch her learning to try and behave as a princess should we also see her transformed physically from bushy hair and thick rimmed glasses to sleek and glossy hair, contact lenses and better dress sense.
It was pleasing to see that Anne Hathaway managed to show us both sides of her character so well - the poise and grace being fairly obvious and by the look of it from later roles fairly easy for her - it was nice to see the down to earth awkwardness, shyness and at times over imaginative side of this character played so well too.
Caroline Goodall plays Mia's mother and gives us a mum who's a little bit quirky and who obviously believes in letting her daughter go her own way and learn from her own mistakes but at the same time she shows us a kind caring nurturing side when we learn that she walked away from her love (Mia's father) so that she could bring Mia up away from the lime light of being a princess. There are one or two lovely moments between mother and daughter in this film, and yet it's clear that Mia's mum didn't do it purely for her daughter but also a little because she herself wasn't really suited to a royal lifestyle either.
Julie Andrews as the royal grandmother is as stunning as you might imagine her to be. Regal and imposing when necessary, and yet, still managing to be warm and trying to win her granddaughters love and affection too. The look on her face when a stunned Mia finds out she's really a princess and uses typical teen speak which has to be translated for Granny dearest is fantastic. Again when she agrees to go out and spend the day with Mia being shown the city as a regular person you see both sides. She couldn't possibly carry change in her pockets as it wouldn't be seemly for a queen to jangle, but she's still willing to try a corn dog and pronounces it quite delicious even though the look on her face when Mia suggests getting another one gives away her real thoughts.
There are so many others in this film that ought to be mentioned really, such as Hecor Elizondo who plays the queens right hand man/bodyguard Joe with a stunning upstanding performance that's just tinged with the right amount of humour when he finds himself playing chauffer to Mia as she changes in the back of the car into suitable attire for her grandmother. Then there's Paulo the slightly larger than life Italian hairdresser who 'outs' Mia to the press played by Larry Miller, and Lilly Moscovitz Mia's outspoken best friend who hosts a public access TV show called 'Shut Up and Listen' and is trying to change the world played superbly by Heather Matarazzo, and I've not even mentioned Lily's brother Michael played by Robert Schwatzman.
Overall the acting standard in this is incredibly high bearing in mind that a large proportion of the actors and actresses in it are teenagers, and even 'Lana, Anna and Montana' the three 'in crowd' girls who cause Mia some rather embarrassing problems are played very well indeed despite being the sort of pampered cow's that you just want to slap!
I did mention these briefly already and to be fair there isn't very much more I can say. The two music videos aren't bad if you like the songs (which I happen to), and some of the deleted scenes are interesting to watch, but I found the audio commentaries a bit boring and wasn't overly impressed with the 'a new princess' featurette. Like with many films today these are really just there as fillers I think, and like with one or two other Disney films, I'd have liked to seen a blooper reel on there, and maybe some making of footage.
You've probably realised by now that I truly love this film. It's ditzy, a bit out there in terms of storyline perhaps, but is just so incredibly well written and acted that honestly it really doesn't matter if it's off there in fairy land and not really very fixed in reality.
The DVD can be bought pretty cheaply these days as it's over 10 years old now and really all I can say to you is if you've not watched it and don't hate this sort of film then go buy it, I seriously doubt you'll be disappointed. The music in this is also lively and up beat which helps to bring it to life rather well, and there are some lovely 'teen' moments if you know what I mean such as the scene where Mia is getting her first kiss and instead of getting her 'foot popping moment' such as you see in all the old movies, instead gets her foot tangled in an old fishing net.
In terms of something to help keep the kids/teens amused this one's brilliant and I bet loads of you mums find yourself sitting down to watch it too (and secretly I reckon there are a few dads quite like this as well even if not for the same reasons!).
Summary: A modern fairytale with good if slightly implausable storyline, good acting & some great characters.