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Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (U)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: One

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: The Making Of Princess Diaries 2. 'Breakaway' music video by Kelly Clarkson. Deleted scenes with Garry Marshall intros. Royal Bloopers. Julie Andrews and Garry Marshall audio commentary. Find Your Inner Princess personality quiz.

EVER since the success of Pretty Woman, director, Garry Marshall, seems to have been determined to deliver one wish-fulfilment fantasy after another, with increasingly diminishing results.

Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement is a classic case in point - a lacklustre sequel that only rarely achieves the feel-good quality of some of the director's earlier work.

There are joys to be had, of course, not least in seeing Dame Julie Andrews singing on-screen once again (even though she refers to it, simply, as 'Rex Harrison sing-speak').

But try as it might, the film contains a weary predictability about it which limits its appeal to all but very young girls, who still dream of becoming a princess - or that big wedding day.

Having discovered she was royalty in the original movie, fresh college graduate, Mia (Anne Hathaway), heads home to the fictional country of Genovia, to prepare to succeed her grandmother, Queen Clarisse, on the throne.

But quickly after the brash, awkward American arrives, it becomes apparent that another heir exists, in the form of Sir Nicholas (played by newcomer, Chris Pine), who, to complicate matters still further, finds himself hopelessly drawn to Mia's quirky charms, despite being a potential enemy.

Hence, Mia is given 30 days to find a husband which, according to Genovia law, is the only way she can rightly claim the throne.

But despite finding an ideal suitor, in the form of the bumbling-but-affable Brit, Sir Andrew (Callum Blue), Mia finds herself pining for Sir Nicholas and their growing admiration plays right into the hands of John Rhys-Davies' scheming Viscount Mabry, who is the real reason behind the threat to the throne.

The ensuing comedy of manners plays out like a fairly bog-standard re-run of just about every Marshall movie in the past, with constant scenes of Mia trying to fit in with her new-found aristocracy, while getting confused about dining etiquette, or being seduced by her limitless riches.

Indeed, you can practically tick off the Pretty Woman references, even though most are played for a much younger generation.

Hector Elizondo, a Pretty Woman veteran, also crops up as the unrequited love interest of Queen Clarisse, who takes Mia under his wing, while the happy-ever-after finale is as schmaltzy as audiences might expect.

The film does benefit from a typically gracious turn from Dame Julie who, in another highlight, gets to indulge in some unlikely mattress surfing, but genuinely charming moments are few and far between due to the telegraphed nature of proceedings and the hopelessly cliched characters. Even attempts at slapstick fall flat.

Hathaway, too, looks a little jaded, especially when comparing this sequel to her similar turn in the upcoming Ella Enchanted, which is far more lively and spirited.

Given the lack of invention and the tired nature of the story, it should come as no surprise, therefore, to find that Princess Diaries 2 is better off remaining a closed book to audiences.

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