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Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Movie Review
"Princess Diaries 2": Sequel aims straight for preteen set

By Moira Macdonald
Seattle Times movie critic

RON BATZDORFF
Anne Hathaway and Chris Pine in the very cute but preposterous "The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement."
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"The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement," a movie that goes on for approximately as long as Queen Victoria's reign, is not intended to appeal to a wide audience — and indeed, it won't. It's aimed at those for whom "cute" is the highest form of praise, and for whom a movie is not complete unless it features pretty dresses, squeaky-clean romance and a cat wearing a tiara. In other words, this is a pink movie, and if you're not a girl, off you go — there's not much for you here.

Directed by Garry Marshall, the movie is undeniably cute. But it's also often a gooey mess, with a plot that manages to be both wearisome and preposterous (to grown-ups, that is). Nonetheless, there's plenty that girls, and others, can learn from it. Here are just a few of the philosophies it (endlessly) offers:

The Guy With the Best Hair Always Wins. The film's plot, though it takes a while to sort out, is basically a love triangle. Princess Mia (Anne Hathaway), now ensconced in Genovia at the palace of her grandmother Clarisse (Julie Andrews), finds that she must marry to succeed to the throne. An engagement with an English nobleman named Andrew (Callum Blue) is hastily arranged, and a bitter enmity between Mia and Sir Nicholas (Chris Pine) develops — which means, in girl code, that she thinks he's kind of cute, too. Andrew is nice, but his hair is flat and mousy; Nicholas, on the other hand, has mastered the use of styling products and sports a 'do with gravity-defying volume at the roots. Anyone care to guess who the winner might be?

Movie review


Showtimes and trailer

**
"The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement," with Anne Hathaway, Julie Andrews, Chris Pine, Hector Elizondo, Heather Matazzaro, John Rhys-Davies. Directed by Garry Marshall, from a screenplay by Shonda Rhimes and Gina Wendkos, based on the series of novels by Meg Cabot. 113 minutes. Rated G. Several theaters.
Julie Andrews Can Be Queen of Anything She Wants. It doesn't matter what indignities the filmmakers want to throw at her — a grand entrance garbed in a hideous gown that makes her look like a full-rigged ship; the line "Shut up!," which makes you wonder for a moment if the world is about to end; and a half-talked "song" that sadly proves that Dame Julie's once-wondrous voice has been irrevocably damaged since her botched throat surgery several years ago. Andrews is still a force of nature, with the most perfect posture in movies (the better to wear a hat with, or a crown). She'd be anyone's dream grandmother, and just having her on screen raises this movie's pedigree tenfold.

It's All About the Outfit. Mia's new closet, beautifully stocked with frocks, jewels and fetching little accessories, gets a more dramatic introduction — and, in fact, more screen time — than many of the supporting characters. (Not that I minded; I was too busy coveting it to care. Sometimes girls grow up to be movie critics — a line of work that, alas, offers fewer material rewards than princess-hood.)

RON BATZDORFF
Anne Hathaway returns as plucky Mia in the sequel "The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement."
Princesses Totally Rock.
Like "13 Going on 30," "Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen," "Ella Enchanted," "A Cinderella Story" and "The Prince and Me" (hmm, do you think Hollywood's noticed a new demographic this year?), "PD2" celebrates girl power, independence and believing in yourself. Mia, played with dewy-eyed charm by the lovely Hathaway, grows a fair bit of backbone by the end of the movie, standing up for the rights of cute girls everywhere. (And probably not-so-cute girls, too, but there aren't any in this movie.)

"PD2" doesn't exactly rock (except for that cat in the tiara, who shows Andrews-like poise), but its message is a pleasant one, and it should keep girls happy until the next pink movie comes along.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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