Directed by Martha Coolidge, starring Julia Stiles, Luke Mably, Ben Miller, James Fox and Miranda Richardson.

Shakespeare has played quite a role in Julia Stiles' career. She made a breakthrough with teen flick '10 Things I Hate About You', an update of 'The Taming of the Shrew', and has since appeared in cinematic versions of 'Othello' and 'Hamlet'. The Bard also plays a minor part in her latest romantic comedy 'The Prince and Me', with Stiles as Paige Morgan, the wannabe doctor with no time for relationships.

Being a pre-med student in Wisconsin also seems to exempt Paige from any understanding of English literature so she has to turn to Eddie (Mably), her cute science class partner - and quoter of Shakespeare - for help. Somewhere between the sonnets and 'King Lear', Paige falls for Eddie, not realising that he's really Prince Edvard Valdemar Dangaard, the crown prince of Denmark. But his cover is blown - and with it, Paige's trust - when the paparazzi snaps the pair kissing instead of studying.

All Hollywood knows that opposites attract and what could be better than a repressed, but sexy, bookworm and an incognito playboy prince? However, while 'The Prince and Me' has all the elements of a mildly engaging love story, it never manages to assemble them in a convincing manner. The first two-thirds of the film are reasonably coherent but the script then rapidly loses the plot, tagging on more potential endings than 'The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King'. And, with a running time of nearly two hours, the audience aren't necessarily going to want to stick around to see all of them.

Julia Stiles - who has made better choices in the past - and relative newcomer Luke Mably are capable enough as the lovebirds (apart from Mably's oddly strong English accent) but Miranda Richardson comes off worst with some toe-curlingly bad lines as Queen Rosalind. There's also a rather awful cameo appearance by former Formula 1 driver Eddie Irvine and the part of the film set in Denmark looks like it has been heavily sponsored by the Danish tourist board.

'The Prince and Me' may feature a whiny prince from Denmark but 'Hamlet' it ain't. Perhaps Julia Stiles should steer away from Shakespeare in future.

Caroline Hennessy