A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this modern-day fairy tale sequel preserves the lighthearted fish-out-of-water comedy of the original Princess Diaries. Princess Mia is still delightfully overwhelmed by her unexpected ascent to the throne, but now, more grown up, she has to tackle some important matters such as marriage, true love, and her responsibility to the kingdom of Genovia. There are several scenes with romantic kisses, including a couple of the foot-popping variety.
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What's the story?
In this sequel set five years after the first film, Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway) is now a polished young woman ready to follow in her deceased father's footsteps as the heir to the throne of Genovia. Mia's grandmother, Queen Clarisse (Julie Andrews), believes it's time for Mia to replace her on the throne. But the scheming Viscount Mabrey (John Rhys-Davies) pushes Parliament to enforce an old law that requires that a princess be married before she can become a queen, and positions his own nephew -- Mia's distant relative -- to become king. So, Mia has 30 days to find a husband, to win over Genovia, and to learn how to be queen. Within a week she is engaged to a sweet and slightly klutzy English duke, Andrew (Callum Blue), but has an "I detest you"-type bickering attraction to Mabrey's nephew, Nicholas (Chris Pine). While capturing headlines with her gaffes, Mia wins over hearts with her goodness and down-to-earth caring. Best friend, Lily (Heather Matarazzo), returns to help her gain her stride and to give Mia a piece of normality in the decidedly unreal palace life.
Is it any good?
Like many sequels, THE PRINCESS DIARIES 2: ROYAL ENGAGEMENT loses some of the flavor of the first by trying too hard not to change a thing in the winning formula while telling a different story. The fantasy of being a princess is not the same as that of being a queen. This makeover is more subtle than taming hair and wearing makeup. Mia must establish a connection to the people of Genovia, while maturing and calibrating her own moral compass. The love story is stilted and missing some of the quirky subtlety Hathaway showed in Ella Enchanted, as she appears to fall for a sapphire-eyed suitor who is handsome but shallow. Finally, there is a distracting deluge of overblown characters who labor too hard to keep the movie light, from the ladies' maids to the young guardsman bellowing out orders while wooing Lily.
The scenes between Hathaway and Andrews are lovely, though, as the two are complementary souls. Grandmother Clarisse shelters Mia under the umbrella of her poise and dignity, while Mia reawakens the Queen's sense of impish fun. With Andrews singing -- albeit briefly -- for the first time in years, this sequel is worth watching for the sleepover scene alone.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how this sequel compares with The Princess Diaries. Do you like it as well? Less? More?
Familes also might want to discuss how difficult it is to change centuries-old traditions, especially in royal families. Have you seen video footage of any royal weddings, like the 2011 wedding of England's Prince William and Kate Middleton?
What do you think Mia might do in the months that follow the movie's end?
- In theaters: August 13, 2004
- On DVD or streaming: December 14, 2004
- Cast: Anne Hathaway, Hector Elizondo, Julie Andrews
- Director: Garry Marshall
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Book Characters
- Run time: 120 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- MPAA explanation: general audiences
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