Directed by Garry Marshall, starring Anne Hathaway, Julie Andrews, Heather Matarazzo and Hector Elizondo.
Garry Marshall has made a career out of people rubbing each other up the wrong (but ultimately right) way. From his TV adaptation of 'The Odd Couple' to the hankie fest that was 'Beaches' and the wrong to right romance of 'Pretty Woman', he specialises in taking chalk and cheese characters, throwing them together and letting the laughs and tears follow. Now comes 'The Princess Diaries', Marshall's updated mix of 'Cinderella' and 'Pygmalion' and his first film pitched straight at the younger end of the market.
It's traumas and tiaras all the way as San Francisco-based square peg Mia (Hathaway) discovers that she's really the princess of European principality Genovia and her visiting granny Clarice (Andrews) is the Queen. Not that there's much time to take it all in though. Concocting the mother of all makeovers, Clarice wants to ensure that Mia walks, talks and, most importantly, looks like royalty before her first official engagement. But with the teenager more interested in her best friend's brother than her loyal subjects, it's only a matter of time before the generational sparks fly.
With fathers and sons engrossed in 'The Lord of the Rings' this Christmas, 'The Princess Diaries' is the only real slice of mothers and daughters entertainment on offer. Unfortunately, it fails to make the best use of the talents involved and many will come away thinking that Marshall can do much better. By setting up Mia's discovery of her royal blood way too early in the film, Marshall has to pad out the remainder with loads of etiquette gags as the girl tries to hold a cup, sit like grandma and generally go through every regal cliché imaginable.
Andrews may bring the right amount of haughty cool to her role, but really it's one she can do half asleep and the scenes she shares with Hathaway need more heartfelt emotion and less exasperated sighs. The hopes for better laughs during Andrews' romance with her assistant (Elizondo) also prove short-lived, their clandestine relationship coming across as far too stuffy and ham fisted to deserve screen time.
There are moments - including a dinner party from hell and Hathaway's on-again off-again friendship with co-star Matarazzo - where you can see what Marshall wanted to achieve, but in the end these diaries have too many dull pages and not enough juicy bits to keep you interested.