Movie Review: The Princess Diaries (2001)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 2001 movie starring Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews.

Synopsis: A 15-year-old “invisible” San Francisco native Mia Thermopolis learns she is the heir to the throne of a small European kingdom and, while trying to decide whether to accept or refuse her legacy, reluctantly agrees to undergo a makeover and take “princess” lessons. Unfortunately for her, efforts to keep her identity a secret fail and she also must deal with the media coverage and surge of classmates who suddenly want to be her friend.

Review

Thanks mostly to our cat (who decided he wanted to have an early breakfast), I was up earlier than expected this past Saturday and, while the family was sleeping, ended up looking for a movie to watch on TV. I happened to come across this film while looking through our movie channels and, a bit reluctantly, decided to watch it simply because there wasn’t much else on at the time.

I’ve seen this movie on a couple different occasions, both with my wife, and had planned on watching it in the near future with my oldest daughter. And, while it’s honestly not a movie I would personally watch on any other occasion, after seeing it again on Saturday, I do still think it would be an excellent choice for her.

A lot of this movie is actually really predictable. For example, even though she has a crush on the most popular boy in her class (Erik von Detten) and, ultimately, gets asked out on a date by him after she becomes famous, it isn’t too difficult to figure out which of her male classmates she would eventually end up with. And, while the movie did a surprisingly excellent job of at least trying to keep her final decision up in the air, it wasn’t really all that much of a surprise at the end.

There are, however, some things I really do like about this film. For one,  I like the fact that, unlike so many other movies in this genre, a makeover doesn’t solve all of Mia’s (Hathaway) problems. In fact, the makeover, in many ways, actually makes her life much more complicated because it did, at times at least, prevent her from being herself (one of those lessons, as a dad, I like to see in movies geared toward the younger generation).

Another thing I found I liked about this movie was the way the adults managed to influence Mia. Again, this isn’t something you see in many films like this. Most movies choose to keep the adults one dimensional and, more often than not, below average in intelligence. This movie, instead, had the adults, ranging from her mother (Goodall) to her grandmother (Andrews) offering some pretty sound advice while, at the same time acknowledging and correcting their own shortcomings.  There just aren’t enough movies that have the supporting characters grow as well as the main protagonist.

Final Opinion

As I said, it’s not the type of movie I usually watch, especially by myself (unless there’s just nothing else on). But, it’s a cute family film I have every intention of letting my oldest daughter (and possibly her younger sister) watch in the near future.

My Grade: A

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Updated: 11/21/2016, StevenHelmer
 
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Mira on 08/04/2015

I would watch this to see Anne Hathaway young :). I sometimes notice actors late, and then happen upon films where they were much younger. Saw Alec Baldwin young the other day, and it was a nice discovery, as he was quite a looker.

Thanks for the review. I'll keep my eyes open for this movie.

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