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The Princess Diaries 2: A Royal Engagement (U)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner18/10/2004

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 113 mins

Hathaway deserves her place in the teen queen pantheon, but this is an overlong, predictable, largely unfunny syrup-fest of a film that is strictly for the under-tens.

Garry Marshall’s 2001 film The Princess Diaries proved a surprise hit and made a star of teen actress Anne Hathaway, as well as providing Julie Andrews with a decent comeback role (it’s doubtful that she would have got the Shrek 2 part without it). A sequel was therefore pretty much inevitable and sure enough, Marshall has reunited the entire cast of the first film.

However, he needn’t have bothered, because the result is a tedious, overlong, predictable film that’s nowhere near as charming as it thinks it is.

Dastardly Viscount Opposes Enthronement

Hathaway reprises her role as Princess Mia of Genovia. Having graduated from Princeton, Mia returns to Genovia and prepares to ascend to the throne after Queen Clarisse (Julie Andrews) announces her decision to step down. However, the dastardly Viscount Mabrey (John Rhys Davies, aka Gimli from Lord Of The Rings) schemes to take the throne away from Mia and points out that Genovian law states that a princess must be married before being crowned.

With just 30 days to find a husband, Mia is subjected to the usual list of oh-so-hilariously unsuitable suitors before narrowing it down to an English drip (lucky us Brits aren’t the type to be offended by crap stereotypes, eh?) and a good-looking Yank (Chris Pine) who just happens to be Viscount Mabrey’s nephew and is therefore Entirely Unsuitable. Who will Mia end up with? Oh, who do you think?

To be fair, the acting isn’t bad. Hathaway is an appealing actress and she gamely goes through every “comedy” pratfall the dismal script requires of her, although her talents are put to much better use in the upcoming (and far superior) fairy-tale comedy Ella Enchanted.

Julie Andrews is good too – she even gets to sing on camera again for the first time since recovering from throat surgery. She (or rather, her stuntwoman) also provides the film’s only highlight, during the mattress-surfing scene.

Reliable Support And Shameless Rehashing

In addition, there’s reliable support from Marshall regular Hector Elizondo (who gets a much better part this time around) and Heather Matarazzo makes a welcome return as Mia’s acid-tongued best friend Lilly.

There is also a bizarre cameo from Spider-Man creator Stan Lee (seriously – what the hell?) and Marshall even manages to cast Spencer and Abigail Breslin, the two cute moppets from his previous syrup-fest Raising Helen. (Spencer Breslin’s cameo as a precocious underage suitor is the only other funny moment in the film).

The film’s worst offence is to shamelessly rehash all the jokes from the first film, so we get Mia’s “hilarious” catchphrase (“Shut. UP!”) again and there’s even another make-over scene with Larry Miller’s camp stylist, even though Mia is plainly not in need of a make-over this time round.

At almost two hours long the film quickly outstays its welcome and if you’re unlucky enough to be dragged to see it you’ll probably find yourself toying with the idea of setting off the fire alarm about 30 minutes in. Ultimately, then, you need to be female and under ten in order to enjoy this, so do yourself a favour and wait for Ella Enchanted instead.

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Content updated: 22/10/2017 16:16

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