Another surprising first and, yes, part of a weekend double feature with Mean Girls 😁Actually, this was a doubly-surprising first, because I'd thought I had seen The Princess Diaries before. Turns out, I think I've seen the sequel but not the original 🤷♂️
At any rate, I enjoyed seeing it this time around. It has dated a little, but as with Mean Girls the core plot isn't nuanced or deep enough to ever truly go out of fashion. Acting and cast are both great, and I can't quite believe a) how young Anne Hathaway was when they made this film and b) how little she appears to have changed in the ensuing 20 years! Agelessness aside, she plays the role very well, coming across as a teenager yet likeable, which is no mean feat 😂
I found her friends and fellow students slightly less intriguing, though what a weird mix of niche cast members. The attractive-douchebag was played by one of the brothers from Dinotopia (niche, I know, but you don't forget those eyebrows!) and then the actual love interest turns out to be (yet another) Schwartzman/Coppola family member. Still, none of the performances were bad, even if the characters were never fleshed out that much. On the other hand, the teachers were all brilliant and clearly had a huge amount of fun, making far more of often bit roles than was necessary. Plus, the driver (Joe) was a great character. Less sure about the weird collection of royal dignitaries, all wearing clearly telegraphed "regional garb", but I do like that this universe has a Scottish Royal Family and (assumedly) an independent Scotland (or possibly a Scottish-run UK? Perhaps this is the timeline where Mary held onto her claim!).
Overall, then, TPD is a fun, enjoyable, and fairly toothless film which is probably just as easy-watching today as it was when released. The story has just enough heart and the actors give solid performances to make you care, though ultimately it is a teenage-girl fantasy and so doesn't stand up to much scrutiny. I mean, the whole "Dad leaves to be King, chooses to stay distant to protect daughter from the limelight, but secretly loves her intensely and ultimately dies before the planned reunion" is just a very neat little package that magically enables the plot and means that every aspect of her life is still pretty perfectly wrapped up in a bow. Her Mum is amazing – strict yet loving and quirky – her friends are all genuinely nice people, even the love interest is a kind of vanilla-person that you can project on to, and of course, it's all moulded around a central fantasy of waking up as a Princess (surprise! 👸). But given that it's a pure fantasy, it has more character and charm than it needed to.