Directed by Garry Marshall, starring Anne Hathaway, Julie Andrews, Heather Matarazzo, John Rhys-Davies, Hector Elizondo, Callum Blue, Caroline Goodall, Christopher Pine.
2001's 'The Princess Diaries' was an unremarkable teen flick based on Meg Cabot's series of best-selling books about Mia (Hathaway), an ordinary American teenager who discovers that she's actually the heir to and princess of European principality Genovia. With a little grooming from grandmother Clarice (Andrews), the ugly duckling was turned into a swan who, despite her clumsiness, could walk the walk and talk the talk of a royal - and get her man in the process. So far, so finished - but it wasn't quite, as this cash-in shows.
Now all grown up and about to turn 21, Mia's a thoroughly modern princess - all Ugg boots and so-this-season ponchos - fresh out of university and preparing for her coronation as the queen of Genovia. But the path of true princesses never does run smooth and director Garry Marshall throws a lot of obstacles in the way of the eventual happy ending. The Genovian parliament invokes a rule that states that Mia can only take her place as ruler if she marries within 30 days, but eligible bachelors are slim on the ground and the choice eventually comes down to boring Brit Andrew (Blue) or obvious bad boy Nicholas (Pine).
With Anne Hathaway getting pigeonholed as a princess (she also stars in the soon to be released fairytale 'Ella Enchanted'), '...Royal Engagement' wasn't perhaps the best move for her. And this film, soaked as it is in sentimentality and with a disturbingly rosy perspective on constitutional monarchy, certainly doesn't do her any favours.
The film is so weak that you just might find yourself losing interest after the first ten minutes. A slumming-it John Rhys-Davies, better known as Gimli in 'The Lord of The Rings', chomps enthusiastically on the scenery as Anne Hathaway tries to spread sweetness and light as the cheerful, prat-falling Mia. While Julie Andrews adds an undeniable touch of class, even breaking into song at one stage, Marshall is not content to leave this untouched, quickly getting a whole song and dance troupe involved. In fact, his clunky direction drags the whole film down, turning what should have been a light and sparkling bit of fluff into a bedraggled mess. Best avoided.