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The Princess Diaries

Why is it that every time someone in a movie finds out they're royalty, it's some tiny, unknown European country the size of a football field?

Aside from the under-appreciated John Goodman romp King Ralph, nearly every "Surprise! You're a Duchess!" flick centers around some tiny, insignificant, out of the way hole-in-the-continent nationette that makes Andorra seem like a mighty world power. (Little place stuck between France and Spain. Look it up.)

"Congrats Duncan! Your long lost cousin Sammy just passed away making you the heir to the throne of Hubbadubbaflavia!"

Boring! Wouldn't it be neater if they turned out to be King of Canada?

"Take off, Maurice! You're the King of Canada!"

You could spend the whole movie with people on the streets of Winnipeg and Toronto arguing.

"I didn't know we had a King."

"Oh sure, eh! It's Maurice! Maurice the King!"

"Could have sworn we had a Prime Minister."

"We do! And a King! King Maurice!"

You get the idea.

And until Hollywood comes to its senses and documents the amazing tale of Maurice: King of Canada, we shall have to make do with delightful little fairy tales such as The Princess Diaries.

The Princess Diaries is about an unpopular little teenager in San Francisco who is shocked to find out that her Grandmother, Julie Andrews, is the Queen of Humpdulvia (or whatever) and the little girl is a Princess.

I don't know why she's shocked, I mean when your Grandmother is Julie Andrews, there's more than likely royalty in the air.

I joke, I jab, I jest, but this is actually a very nice movie. Happy. Pleasing to the eye. A good time will be had by all. And we'll all learn a valuable lesson. Which is...well, I don't want to give anything away, but when a character's big choice is between becoming Princess in Europe and living in a castle with boundless servants and all comforts known to man (as well as most of the ones known to woman) or being an unpopular bookworm in San Francisco with only one true friend, what do you think happens?

Here's a hint; the one good friend gets great summer breaks.

Anne Hathaway is our Princess, and she's really good. She has all sorts of silly physical pratfalls and other such awkwardness and she does a very admirable job.

But, through no fault of her own, she's blown away by Julie Andrews.

That woman can act. She IS Her Royal Majesty The Queen of Muckawhacovia. She is so good, her talent leaks out and infects everyone around her. You could put Keanu Reeves in a Julie Andrews flick and he'd shine from the overflow. She just oozes poise, grace and charm.

The film is brought to us by Garry Marshall, who has built a career making "Young Woman is unexpectedly brought into a whole new world" flicks. Pretty Woman. Runaway Bride. The Princess Diaries. Beaches. Exit to Eden.

Well, maybe not Exit to Eden.

(Exit to Eden was a poorly-envisioned reworking of an Anne Rice erotica novel which starred Dan Aykroyd and Rosie O'Donnell. What, you think I'm kidding?)

This time, however, he is true to the mark and once again brings every little girl's dream to the screen. I mean come on, do you know any twelve year-old girl who hasn't dreamed of discovering she wasn't secretly a Princess? Heck, even twelve year-old boys have had that dream occasionally.

Or so I'm told.

All told, The Princess Diaries delivers a wonderful time for all. Go see it, you'll probably come away with an innocent smile on your face. And if it's not innocent, then you're probably looking ahead to the movies Anne Hathaway makes when she gets just a little older...

I grant The Princess Diaries 3 7/8 Royal Babylons, which are just like regular Babylons, but you have to stand when they walk into the room.

Editor's Note:

Leave it to the SMC to turn a G-Rated movie into a PG-13 review.

The Princess Diaries
Rated: PG
Directed By: Garry Marshall
Starring: Julie Andrews, Anne Hathaway, Hector Elizondo, Heather Matarazzo, Mandy Moore, Caroline Goodall, Sandra Oh, Larry Miller and a magical tiara that makes all your bad thoughts go away.

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