Sequel to Princess Diaries a royal letdown all around

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Ill admit that I was a fan of The Princess Diaries. The 2001 film was a delightful romantic comedy that had some nice work by Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews.

That being said, I dont think there were too many people who felt that a second film was needed to tie up the loose ends. Yet, here we have The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, a braindead film that sucks the life out its audience with its annoyingly overbearing screenplay.

Hathaway returns as Mia, the American heir to the fictional country of Genovia. Mia has just finished college and headed back to her new home for her coronation as queen, replacing her retiring grandmother Clarisse (Andrews).

The plans are altered when a member of the Genovian parliament challenges Mia as the heir to the throne, citing an ancient rule that claims all female rulers must be married or surrender the throne. Sure its a sexist rule, but this is Disney, so it will all work out.

Mia is given 30 days to find a suitable husband. She settles on a charming Brit (Callum Blue), although she also finds herself attracted to the man (Chris Pine) in line to take her crown if she fails.

This results in the films main conflict, which comes off as forced and contrived. Its one thing to have Mia fall for her possible replacement, but its just an unnecessary romantic roadblock to add another love interest that is never very interesting.

Hathaway is a beautiful young actress, but she isnt given much to do here. In the first film, there was at least the ugly-duckling-to-swan angle, but now she has to result to silly pratfalls that her character is way too smart to get herself into.

Her prince charming isnt really charming enough either, leading to some serious chemistry problems.

Director Gary Marshall has had plenty of hits (Pretty Woman and The Flamingo Kid), but has also proven that he is more than capable of misfires. I think Marshall is an adequate director if given the material to work with, but hes not the kind of director that can make a dull script more interesting.

Unfortunately, Marshall has to work with a screenplay from Shonda Rhimes that throws in every conceivable romantic cliche one desperate enough to have Andrews sing in a pathetic attempt for some nostalgia points. Even the addition of new characters proves to be more annoying than refreshing.

Granted, most of this doesnt matter to Disneys obvious target audience, the under-10 crowd who will see (and probably enjoy) the film anyway. Everyone else, though, will be longing for a fairy tale with a little more charm and imagination.

Dollar dandy of the week

This weeks dollar dandy (and yes, we finally have a dandy!) is Dodgeball (B-), a hilarious screwball comedy that features a strong cast and plenty of laugh-out-loud moments.

Dodgeball tells the tale of Peter (Vince Vaughn), a likable gym owner whose business is threatened by a fitness guru named White Goodman (Ben Stiller), who owns the cooperate chain next door. When Goodman takes the mortgage on Peters gym, they agree to settle the dispute at the national dodgeball championships in Las Vegas.

Goodman brings a group of ringers, while Peter has a rag-tag bunch of losers among them, a guy who thinks hes a pirate and a coach (Rip Torn) whose idea of training is having his team dodge wrenches.

Dodgeball has a first-rate cast that milks the film for every laugh possible.

Stiller is so over the top, he is practically chewing the scenery. Vaughn plays a good straight man, while Torn almost steals the film. There are also several cameos (better left as surprises) that generate some of the films best moments.

Writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber (the creator of those Terry Tate: Office Linebacker ads) does a good job with his first feature-length film, creating a movie that plays off sports clichs with some very funny results.

Dodgeball opens Friday at the Plaza 6, where all movies are $1.

Even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious, if you e-mail sportswriter/movie reviewer Micheal Compton ( youll always sound precocious … Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

 Daily News ·813 College St. ·PO Box 90012 ·Bowling Green, KY ·42102 ·270-781-1700 


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