Princess: A Modern Fairy Tale

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Princess: A Modern Fairy Tale Movie Poster Image
Second-rate fairy-tale romance has scary moments.
  • NR
  • 2008
  • 88 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 14 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 7 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Overall, the movie has a positive theme about finding your true self and believing in love.

Positive Role Models & Representations

This fairy tale is told from a male point of view; it is the hero who makes mistakes and learns important lessons about honesty, bravery, and commitment. Princess Ithaca is at all times fair-minded, compassionate, and duty-bound. William's best friend is coarse, self-centered, and judgmental. He never suffers any consequence from his insensitivity, never sees the error of his ways, and his very positive, sympathetic wife is oblivious to his misbehavior.


A couple of comments revolve around "gay" stereotypes ("How gay is that?" asks William's crass buddy, when talking about going to a charity ball with his male friend). The primary cast is all Caucasian.


Lots of scary action sequences that blend live-action with very shoddy special effects -- more unsettling than the usual fairy tale animated conflict . Mythical monsters (a huge ghoulish squid, a hooded skeletal fiend with bared teeth) are introduced in shadowy scenes of suspense and attack. The hero is in jeopardy several times -- once for a lengthy period in the clutches of the multi-tentacled squid, another time being choked by a serpent. There's spooky music, dark dream sequences, and many mysterious characters and events that are not explained until late in the movie.


A few gentle, loving kisses.




One "damn" and lots of insensitive insults: "freak," "deranged," "idiot." Some disparaging sexual remarks: "How gay is that?" and "She has lesbian delusions." A father-to-be makes a misguided joke about his very pregnant wife: "Horrible things happen to your body while you're pregnant." The same character talks derogatorily about "virgin princesses," "fetus-ville," and "hickeys."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Two men are shown drinking beer from a bottle several times. A couple drinks wine at dinner, and the hero offers champagne to the princess. These characters are all over 21 years old.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this mostly live-action movie has many dark, scary sequences that might be disturbing for the very young or those who have trouble distinguishing between fantasy and reality. It isn't simply the animated creature jeopardy (monsters, serpents, beasts), but there are shrouded, ghoulish humans as well, and a mystery that is less suspenseful than confusing. The film's "comedy" involves a character who uses insults like "How gay is that?," "She has lesbian delusions," and "fetus town." The romance, despite the murky circumstances that surround it, is sweet; the princess has all the attributes of royalty: kindness, beauty, intelligence, and courage. It's an odd mix of elements -- a princess, danger, myths, and grown-up sexual insults.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byMichelle M. July 28, 2017

Movie can't decide if adult audience vs kids

Always looking for appropriate movies for son and daughter to view together. They cannot pick up on the subtle jokes about princess and lesbianism and the two... Continue reading
Adult Written bygreencrazed May 12, 2017

Pros and Cons

Not recommended for young children. It throws around inappropriate insults, "How gay is that?" etc. Also, it contains fantasy themes that may be hard... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byAnden March 2, 2017
Teen, 15 years old Written bytorky2001 September 27, 2016

What's the story?

William (Kip Pardue) is a lost soul, a trust-fund kid with no direction in life. Then he meets the strangely private, beautiful Princess Ithaca (Nora Zehetner) at her annual charity ball. A miscommunication leads the princess to believe he is a "Searcher" (a mysterious character who has been sent to help her find a mysterious someone). William, thinking she's just a little crazy but really beautiful and sweet, goes along with it. Their search takes the two of them on a quest in which they and a number of mythical creatures (a mermaid, wood nymphs, and some helpless but scary beasts) are in jeopardy. The story unravels slowly, and it isn't until just before the end that the puzzle of the Princess Ithaca is solved.

Is it any good?

It isn't easy to determine who this made-for-TV movie is meant for. It's part fairy tale romance for little girls, part "dragon killer" mystery for young action fans who aren't very selective, and part modern, not-very-funny insult comedy for grown-ups. The combination doesn't work, especially when none of the elements is well-executed. Even fairy tales depend upon plots that have some logic and consistent rules -- this one doesn't. The hapless hero never gets a chance to be heroic; the beautiful princess is perfect from beginning to end and has no place to grow; and the animated mythical "creatures" are so poorly conceived and realized that they provide the only comic relief.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how special effects are done, including computer animation. Which images are live-action, and which are a combination of live-action and animation? How can you tell?

  • What do you think about the film's suggestion that the legends surrounding the mythological creatures in the film may be based on some ancient truth?

  • Why do you think William waited so long to tell Princess Ithaca the truth about his purpose?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love princesses

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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