The Princess Diaries

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
The Princess Diaries Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Sweet tale about growing up is terrific fun for families.
  • G
  • 2001
  • 115 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 29 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 74 reviews

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Intended to entertain rather than educate, but kids will learn about various formal traditions and etiquette, and get lessons about gratitude and integrity.

Positive Messages

Stay true to yourself. Themes include growing up, finding yourself, and taking chances. Characters demonstrate gratitude and integrity.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Princesses come in many shapes and sizes. Mia learns that no one can make you feel inferior without your consent -- and that part of being a princess is not what it does for you, but what it makes it possible for you to do for others.

Violence & Scariness

Some comic pratfalls. A car crash, but no one gets hurt. 

Sexy Stuff

Kissing between teens.


Some verbal bullying from popular girls, who call the lead character a "freak." 


A Hot Stuff Pizza box is prominently displayed during a pizza delivery. One of the main characters is always eating M&Ms. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An older diplomat acts drunk at a dinner party. Other adults drink alcoholic beverages but don't seem drunk. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Princess Diaries is a 2001 movie in which Anne Hathaway plays an unpopular 15-year-old who discovers that she is a princess in a European kingdom. There is some mild verbal bullying from the popular kids of a high school; the lead character and her friends are called names such as "freak." There is some teen kissing. Mia drives without a license and manages to escape a ticket using tactics that parents might find troubling. During a softball game, a male character is hit in the groin with a softball. Aside from this, the movie offers positive messages about the importance of friendship, popularity, being true to yourself, and caring about others. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 15-year-old Written byMovie Parent August 17, 2009
This movie did not deserve a G rating. There was too much emphasis on kissing between 15 year olds. My own 15 year old was shocked by the protrayal of french... Continue reading
Parent of a 9 and 11-year-old Written byMichelle T. April 20, 2015

Disagree with commonsense media's recommendation

We were fooled by the cute trailer and commonsense media's review. The overall message of the movie is ok, but much of the movie content is iffy and overs... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old January 20, 2019

Great, Do NOT understand the bad reviews

This is an AMAZING movie, and very funny. I adore Mia. Anne Hathaway is a fantastic actor! I don't understand why parents say this is so inappropriate. It... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old August 20, 2018

Great Movie!!

When I was 8 years old I watched The Princess Diaries. I always loved to watch the movie when I was sick with my dad. I think that The Princess Diaries is for 8... Continue reading

What's the story?

In THE PRINCESS DIARIES, Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway) is a shy 15-year-old who says, "My expectation in life is to be invisible, and I'm good at it." She dreams of kissing high school hunk Josh Bryant, and she'd like to be able to get up in front of the class to speak without going to pieces. Her sympathetic mother, an artist, her best friend Lilly (Heather Matarazzo), and her "baby," a beat-up Mustang she's having repaired, keep her going. Just before her 16th birthday, she gets a visit from her grandmother (Julie Andrews), whom she's never met. An even bigger surprise is the reason for the visit: It turns out that Mia's grandmother is the queen of Genovia and her late father was a prince, so that makes her a princess! Mia will have to get some fast princess lessons to get ready for the ball -- that is, if she decides to accept the job, which she's not so sure about. As she says to her mother, "Just in case I'm not enough of a freak already, let's add a tiara!" Things get worse when Lilly feels deserted, and a couple of very public mistakes make Mia feel that she isn't up to the job. But this would not be a fairy tale if everyone didn't live happily ever after, so somehow everyone's wishes come true.

Is it any good?

This is a great big luscious lollypop of a movie, terrific fun for girls of any age and for their families, too. It might not be of much interest to boys, though Hathaway is gorgeous (the least realistic part of the movie is the highly ineffective attempt to make her look like an ugly duckling), and there are some cool cars and very funny moments. But The Princess Diaries is a wonderful story about growing up, finding ourselves, and taking chances, with lots of great things for families to talk about afterward.

The queen's head of security (Hector Elizondo in another impeccable performance) quotes Eleanor Roosevelt's famous words: "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." And Mia realizes that the important part of being a princess is not what it does for her but what it makes it possible for her to do for others.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about growing up, making choices, and making mistakes, like Mia does in The Princess Diaries. Parents can tell kids about some of their own mistakes and fears when they were Mia's age and what they did to move on from them. They also may want to talk about what teens should consider before deciding to kiss someone and how important it is to be loyal to true friends.

  • How does this movie address verbal bullying? Does it seem accurate or overblown? Why? 

  • How are themes of friendship, popularity, taking chances, and being true to yourself addressed in this movie? 

  • How does Mia learn and demonstrate gratitude and integrity in The Princess Diaries? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love great female role models

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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