The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement
by Coco Delgado
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Not so long ago, in a kingdom pretty much right here, I picked The Princess Diaries as one of my Top Ten Movies of 2001. And I knew it seemed an odd choice, but I really liked it. Filmed in San Francisco (where my heart still beats), it showed a “real” San Francisco not often seen in movies. Not only that, but Julie Andrews and Anne Hathaway had some real chemistry.
And, yeah. They showed a day at the old Musée Mechanique, one of my most favorite places on the planet. Julie Andrews arm-wrestling with the mechanical mensch? Priceless.
Sadly, Princess Diaries 2—Royal Engagement just doesn’t have that same charm. As a native Northern Californian, I like to think it’s because the sequel was filmed entirely in Los Angeles. But there’s actually more to it than just that.
It just…doesn’t have the heart the first one had. We don’t have the ugly duckling action that graced the first one, and instead of that place where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars, we’ve got FakeEurope… (aka Genovia), a place which, apparently, has a perfect racial balance. At least, in every single scene, you can pick out a few African Americans, some Asians, some Hispanics…oh, how very Global Village. Of course, there doesn’t seems to be a common language in Genovia…people have French accents, Italian accents, British…
The melting pot is boiling over in Genovia, I think. Maybe they need to institute a quota system; they aren’t that big a country.
There are some charming moments. Julie Andrews singing for the first time since she had throat surgery in 1997, for example. The usual Garry Marshall gang of suspects making their appearances (Hector Elizondo, and Larry Miller). Heather Matarazzo, happily, is back as well. She’s one of the best things in this film.
Oh, there’s a sort of a “plot,” too…See, Princess Mia has to be married by her 21st birthday, or she has to relinquish the throne to a distant relative who is a Genovian native…and who just happens to be a cute guy her age she already flirted with. How conveeeeeeenient. So then they try to marry her off to an English lord for the next 90 minutes or so while the Evil Uncle tries to sabotage anything he can and while the audience sits there and says Hello! They already LIKE each other! He’s a native and she’s got diplomacy…marry them to each other and show us more Heather Matarazzo!
It’s really pretty frustrating
By the way, the author of the Princess Diaries books for Young Adults, Meggin Cabot, has also written some clever books for adults: “The Boy Next Door” and “Boy Meets Girl”, both entirely told through emails, voicemails, memos, instant messages and notes scribbled on the backs of receipts. They’re clever and original, and should be checked out.
In fact, save your money, buy one of those books, and rent the first Princess Diaries. Trust me; you won’t be missing anything, honest.
Coco Delgado lives in Cambridge-Somerville and always sits in the front row. Her 2003 New Years resolution is to see more than the 66 movies she saw last year.
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