Reviewed by: Lacey Mical (Callahan) Walker
|Featuring||Anne Hathaway, Julie Andrews, Callum Blue, Hector Elizondo, Heather Matarazzo|
|Producer||Debra Martin Chase|
|Distributor||Walt Disney Pictures|
“To get the kingdom of Genovia… there’s just a little hitch.”
Having much enjoyed the first Princess Diaries installment, I was curious to see how screenwriter Shonda Rhimes and director Garry Marshall would continue the tale. Sequels are often a disappointment, so I didn’t hold high hopes for this one. To my delight, “Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement” is actually better than the first.
The story proceeds as Princess Mia graduates college and returns to Genovia to prepare for her coronation as the time approaches for her grandmother, Queen Rinaldi, to hand down the throne. Mia is welcomed home by much of the same ensemble from the first movie, along with a few new, peripheral characters who add dashes of comedy throughout the already charming script.
Set in a palace complete with hidden passageways, royal subjects, bumbling guards and singing chambermaids, this film has more of a fairy tale feeling than did the original, which is fitting as Mia has left her American schoolgirl existence and transitioned into her role as the reigning princess of Genovia.
The plans for Mia to inherit the crown as Genovia’s new queen are upset when a scheming, power-hungry member of parliament—whose nephew follows Princess Mia in line for the throne—begins to sow discord, pointing out Mia’s unmarried state and the nation’s law that the queen must have a husband. To her grandmother’s dismay, it is decided during a meeting of parliament that the princess must choose someone and marry within thirty days, or forfeit the crown. Mia is faced with the dilemma of whether she should jump into an arranged, loveless marriage for the sake of her country, or wait to find true love and never become Queen.
The character of Princess Mia, played charmingly by Anne Hathaway, is a refreshing change of pace from the heroines we are usually presented in today’s movie fare. She is respectful and modest. She honors her grandmother, and puts others first. Like the original film, Mia continues to be ever-clumsy and she is still somewhat shy. These imperfections only serve to endear her to the audience as she continues striving to please her grandmother and become a graceful ruler.
It was once again a delight to see Julie Andrews playing Queen Rinaldi. The extra treat in this film is her singing duet with Raven. Of course, her performance was not as elaborate and grand as the ones we cherish from her Mary Poppins days, but how wonderful to see Miss Andrews singing and dancing in a Disney film again.
I was eager to see how the relationship between Queen Rinaldi and her head of security, Joseph (Hector Elizondo) would develop, and I wasn’t disappointed.
There are two disappointing moral aspects to the story:
There is a feminist message in the conclusion of the film. I know that some parents will want to avoid presenting their children with the message that women are created to rule a nation, with or without a husband.
Also, the idea that physical attraction and chemistry are the foundation for a good relationship is promoted. A young man kisses Mia and that kiss tempts her to want a relationship with him. She kisses another man in her life, and he and she discuss the fact that there is no “spark” and no “fireworks.” Obviously this is not the way that God instructs us to find a mate.
One scene of particular concern is when Mia spends the evening in a park with a young man, the two fall asleep. We see them the next morning, under the same blanket, with her head on his chest. It is made clear that they did not engage in sexual activity, but a member of the media video tapes them waking up in this compromising position, and Mia’s family is embarrassed in front of the nation. Mia is humiliated and repentant. The Bible instructs us to “give no appearance of evil,” and parents can use this scene as a springboard to discussion about how important it us to guard our reputations and not place ourselves in unwise, dangerous, and compromising situations like Mia did.
At the showing I attended, the audience seemed totally engaged. They laughed and cheered, and I even saw some moist eyes. It was good to see people of all ages so thoroughly enjoying a G-rated movie. More, please!
If you haven’t seen the first Princess Diaries, I recommend renting it to watch before the sequel. Together, they make a charming set that the whole family can enjoy.
Violence: None / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: Minor
Read our review of The Princess Diaries 1.