Every once in a while a film comes out that makes me feel like a one-woman campaign to get people to go see it. Maybe it’s because the trailers make the film look stupid or just because the movie has no big name talent attached. Whatever the reason, sometimes a film is released that deserves an audience but just can’t seem to find it without some positive word-of-mouth. This year, that movie is Walt Disney’s “The Princess Diaries.” For even though “The Princess Diaries” has a strong cast and is extremely well-written, what will make this film a hard sell is its G-rating. I mean let’s face it: rated G movies almost seem extinct. Even animated feature films like ‘Atlantis’ and kids-geared films like ‘Cats and Dogs’ seem to have a PG-rating slapped on them these days, and for the few G-rated films that do come out each year, none of them ever seem to stick around for long. Never the less, if there was one film that could put the G-rating back on the map, this is it. For whether you are 3 or 57, male or female, “The Princess Diaries” is almost impossible not to like.
Based on the novel by Meg Cabot, “The Princess Diaries” focuses on a fifteen-year-old high school outcast named Mia (Anne Hathaway) who is content with her ability to remain invisible to the world. Her life, however, takes an unexpected turn when her grandmother (Julie Andrews) arrives with some shocking news; her father’s recent death has left Mia as the sole heir to the throne of Genovia. Now, against her will, Mia is being rushed from classes at school to princess lessons with her grandma, trying to figure out who exactly she is. Can this shy San Francisco teenager, who can’t even confront her long-time crush, actually live up to her family name and accept the responsibilities that come with being a princess?
Director Garry Marshall (“Pretty Woman”) somehow managed to find another Julia Roberts in training with Anne Hathaway. Hathaway steals this film, portraying both the nerdy, awkward teenager and the royal knockout perfectly. There is never a doubt in viewers minds that this swan once was an ugly duckling, which is something few actresses can successfully accomplish now days. Furthermore, Hathaway’s on-screen chemistry with Julie Andrews is completely believable as an estranged grandmother and granddaughter. For even when these two are at each other’s throats, viewers will still be able to see the fondness and admiration they have for one another even if it is just in a simple glance. Most actresses wait their whole lives for that role they were born to play– Hathaway truly was blessed to receive this role so early on in her career.
While Marshall and his decision to cast Hathaway in the lead deserves most of the credit for what makes “The Princess Diaries” one of the best family films to come around in years, screenwriter Gina Wendkos deserves the rest. Wendkos writes the perfect family film that both adults and kids will enjoy without ever stooping to a level of humor that will go over adults’ heads. “The Princess Diaries” features no gross-out humor, no fart jokes– nothing offensive at all. Furthermore, it also features none of the adult-targeted humor most Disney family films try to include to entertain the older members of the audience. Instead, “The Princess Diaries” focuses on simple, humorous situations that people of all ages can understand– and people of all ages will be entertained by.
Whether the last G-rated film you saw was last month or ten years ago, “The Princess Diaries” won’t disappoint. It is one of the most delightful and touching comedies to grace the big-screen in years that features no swearing, no sex, no violence, no drugs–and no dull moments. “The Princess Diaries” truly is a movie fit for royalty that not only gives G-rated films the come back they have been waiting for, but also is worth the $10 movie tickets go for these days. It’s just too bad that not all family films are like this one.