Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (3/10)

Copyright © 2004 by Tony Medley

On one level Princess Diaries 2 is another example of Hollywood's male marginalization. I guess it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, then, even though it’s all about women, cast almost entirely by women, and is meant to appeal to little girls, that the only bad person is male, Viscount Mabrey (John Rhys-Davies). Compounding this, the other men in the movie, love interest Nicholas Devereaux (Chris Pine), fiancé Lord Andrew Jacoby (Callum Blue), and Joseph (Hector Elizondo), who has spent his life pining away for Queen Clarisse Renaldi (Julie Andrews), are wimps’ wimps. All the men subjugate themselves to the women, who clearly wear the pants.

Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway), who learned she was a princess in The Princess Diaries (2001), now learns she might become Queen of the fictional Genovia. Mabrey has other ideas, however. He wants to put his nephew, Devereaux, on the throne, so relies on a law that a Queen must have a husband to be enthroned. This becomes the threadbare plot as Queen Clarisse wants  to enthrone Mia by betrothing her to Lord Andrew, even though neither loves the other. Then Mia falls in love with Devereaux. Ah, what a paradox, one that’s about as involving as the love life of a trout.

Naturally, Director Gary Marshall elongates this flimsy tale. Despite the fact that it would have been a problem for an ordinary man to make this into a 30-minute sitcom (the field in which, incidentally, Marshall made his original reputation), Marshall has no problem lengthening it into something approaching two hours. While it delighted the multitude of five-year old girls in the audience, this adult was squirming throughout.

The look of the film is interesting. Except for an amateurish shot at the beginning that reminded me of the beginning of Casablanca (1942), it looks as if it might have been shot on location in Europe. In fact, it was shot on a backlot in Burbank with other Southern California locations. Production Designer Albert Brenner, a five-time Oscar nominee, came out of retirement to create a realistic Genovia.

If you are a prepubescent girl with a five-year old intellect, this is a smash hit. If you’re not, bring a good book.

August 11, 2004

The End