Reviewed by: Douglas Downs
Starring: Amanda Bynes, Colin Firth, Kelly Preston, Jonathan Pryce, Anna Chancellor | Directed by: Dennie Gordon | Produced by: Denise DiNovi, Bill Gerber, Hunt Lowry | Written by: Jenny Bicks, Elizabeth Chandler, William Douglas Home | Distributor: Warner Bros.
Yeah, it’s a teen flic. Yeah, it’s a chick flic. Yeah, I’ll admit it, I liked it.
It is so rare to find films for the MTV generation that are not saturated with offensive material. “What a Girl Wants” is for the most part a touching story that is almost on par with “The Princess Diaries” and “A Walk to Remember”. A remake of the 1958 film “The Reluctant Debutante”, I found the movie both predictable and refreshing. Though the plot line is familiar, it is a cut above most superficial girly-flicks.
Amanda Bynes plays a fun-loving teenager named Daphne Reynolds from Chinatown, NY. She has grown up in a single-parent home. Her mom (Kelly Preston) is a musician and often plays for wedding receptions. And though she appreciates all her mother has tried to do in raising her, Daphne still has two sentimental hopes.
Every birthday, her wish is to meet her father. Every wedding gig, she laments the traditional father/daughter dance. These touching moments work and help draw the audience into the story. As Daphne soon finds out, her long-absent father, a wealthy and prominent political figure, lives in London, England. It isn’t long before our spirited American teen makes the journey to loosen up the local aristocracy.
Amanda Bynes turns in a charming performance as both a fish-out-of-water and a reluctant Cinderella. And Colin Firth does an excellent job as the father who did not realize he had a daughter. Yes, most of the sentiment is contrived. (Naturally while in London, Daphne finds a boyfriend who just happens to be a musician.) My objections are few; however, the outfits sported by Miss Bynes are sadly similiar to the inappropriate attire seen on Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and the like. In addition, the romantic trappings are of course extremely shallow. Overall, though, the movie has that Disney Channel feel to it and would make an excellent alternative to some of the other teen garbage out there. “What a Girl Wants” is a fairly harmless fairy tale with an enchanting story book feel.