Posted: 04/07/2003


What a Girl Wants


by Coco Delgado

Nickelodeon’s budding starlet makes it to the bigs. But is this film worthy of her apparent talents?

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What a Girl Wants is a very silly title. Granted, it’s for a rather fluffy “teen-girl conquers the world” sort of movie, but the title is such that it chases people away. Anything would have been better, quite honestly. A Chinatown Yankee in Lord Dashwood’s Court, for one. Or, hell, even The Reluctant Debutante would have been a better name…it was good enough to be called that in 1958, anyway.

You don’t go into a movie starring someone who made her name as the voice of a Rugrat expecting Gone With the Wind or On the Waterfront. You go to have a laugh and kill a few hours. And if you’re a female in her 30’s, let’s be honest: You go to ogle Colin Firth and wish they’d hurry up with that Bridget Jones sequel already.

And Mr. Firth is very, very Darcy-esque in this. Which is tricky, since really he’s not the romantic lead. He’s the dad. It’s harder to have Colin Firth play a dad than it is to have, say, Gerard Depardieu play one. And well…okay. I had better just stop right there with that train of thought. Oops. Didn’t mean train; we all know about trains and tunnels and…

Bugger. Right. So Daphne is a normal American girl who grew up with just her mom in Chinatown, NYC (such a typical childhood it’s almost cliche). She’s got photos of her dad, but hasn’t ever met him, and he’s a Member of Parliment in England. So she turns 17 and goes to London to find him.

It says nothing about her coming into a great deal of money, but apparently she’s got quite a lot. London is expensive! I was there at New Year’s. The cost of everything doesn’t seem to phase her, she meets the boy of her dreams, finds her father and charms the Royal Family. She also manages to befuddle her prospective stepmother in a way that’s not been seen on the big screen since two Hayley Millses did it in The Parent Trap. (And, yes, the woman who played Glynnis the evil fiance was Henrietta in Four Weddings and a Funeral and I am very dismayed to discover she is is only a month and a half older than me. Yikes)

This is a nice movie. It’s got a happy ending. It’s got pleasant characters. It’s got lovely scenery. It’s The Princess Diaries with a little less ugly duckling and a little more belly button. You can’t hate it. It’s just so darned nice…

And hey. Colin Firth in leather pants dancing in front of a mirror? Worth the price of admission. Just saying.

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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