What a Girl Wants

  • Review Date: August 3, 2003
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2003
  • Running Time: 100 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Too-cute with a few iffy moments, but tweens will eat it up.
  • Review Date: August 3, 2003
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2003
  • Running Time: 100 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

The film highlights the importance of being true to yourself. The value of family, particularly the special relationship between father and daughter, is also underscored.

Positive role models

While Glynnis, Clarissa, and other social-climbing Brits place class and status above all else (and will resort to sneaky behavior to hold on to it), Daphne, Henry, and Libby are down-to-earth idealists who ultimately hang on to what they believe is important.


Slapstick humor leads to lots of falling down, and the loss of tempers results in occasional pushing and punching, but no blood or injuries. A rifle is used for skeet shooting.


Some mild sexual innuendo, plus inappropriate flirting and light touching, and references to past sexual relationships and reproduction. Daphne's outfits sometimes reveal her midriff. One plot point includes reference to a dog biting a man's "testicles."


Words like "hell," "bitch," and "ass" are audible, but very occasionally.


Logos for Virgin Atlantic, Coco Puffs, and Tropicana, and high-end vehicles (Jaguars, Rolls Royces, BMW) are frequently shown. High-end fashion brands like Gucci, Prada, and Ralph Lauren are sometimes referenced and/or visible. Featured music ranges from songs by James Brown to Michelle Branch.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Adult alcohol consumption (wine, champagne) is visible at weddings and other social functions. Hard liquor is often consumed over meetings and/or alone while contemplating life.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that What A Girl Wants is light-hearted and fun, but also contains a strong word or two ("bitch," "hell"), and themes surrounding illegitimacy, divorce, and father-daughter relationships. It also contains a fair share of references to high-end goods (Gucci, Prada, Rolls-Royce, etc.) and logos for mundane items like Virgin Atlantic, Tropicana, and Coco Puffs. Drinking is visible over meals and social events. An occasional push and punch occurs, too. There's some inappropriate flirting and references to a man's genitals.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

WHAT A GIRL WANTS stars Amanda Bynes as Daphne Reynolds, the spirited daughter of a wedding singer and single mom named Libby (Kelly Preston). Daphne has always dreamed of meeting her father, but her parents split up before he even knew she was going to be born, and he doesn't know anything about her. After she graduates from high school, she hops on a plane and shows up at his house. Except it isn't exactly a house -- it's a mansion. It turns out her father is Lord Henry Dashwood (Colin Firth), who has just given up his hereditary seat in the House of Lords to stand for office (they say \"stand\" instead of run in England) just like a commoner. He is engaged to a horrible social-climbing monster named Glynnis (Anna Chancellor) with a snooty teen-age daughter. Daphne is a breath of fresh air and both she and Henry learn a lot about themselves as they learn about each other.

Is it any good?


What a Girl Wants is not just a fairy tale -- it is a full-out fantasy straight from the heart of all young girls and former young girls who really really love their daddies. It may feel to other people like an adorableness overdose, but its intended audience will enjoy it very much. Bynes is a gifted comedienne, but she doesn't get a chance to show off what she does best in this movie. But she has a fresh and engaging presence and some able and charismatic support from classically trained stage actors Firth, Eileen Atkins, and Jonathan Pryce. The love interest, played by Ian Williams, should be high on the Teen Beat hearthrob list.

The movie feels too long because it is more like a string of unconnected sitcom episodes, each one signaling its conclusion the moment it starts. Each incident fails to build on or even be reflected in the one that comes next. It has a pre-packaged feel, leaving absolutely nothing to chance, not even the possibility that there might be some eight-year-old who has never seen a movie before and might not know that the bad guys are really bad unless they engage in the most idiotically outrageous (and self-defeating) behavior. The climactic, Cinderella-ish conclusion to the big coming-out ball makes Daphne seem inconsistent and immature. And the climactic decision by Henry makes him seem irresponsible and immature.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the way Daphne tried to "fit in" and whether Henry was doing the same. What were the most important things Daphne and Henry learned from each other? They should also Henry's decision to change direction and what the impact is likely to be.

  • Does this movie remind you of any others? What are some themes that recur in movies about teen girls?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 4, 2003
DVD release date:August 5, 2003
Cast:Amanda Bynes, Colin Firth, Kelly Preston
Director:Dennie Gordon
Studio:Warner Bros.
Run time:100 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:mild language

This review of What a Girl Wants was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 13 years old Written byAnnie13yearsold August 26, 2013

V. Good Film

Very good film. It barely has any bad language! There is a brief kissing scene, but nothing unsuitable. I would really recommend it!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much consumerism
Adult Written byBeckstar October 29, 2011

Ok for kids!

I thought this film was fine. At times I felt as if there was a tad too much chemistry between Colin Firth and Amanda though. Even though he is her father in the film, there were times it appeared to me like he wanted to kiss her. I would let my kids watch it (if I had kids). No sex or violence!
Teen, 14 years old Written byQueen2B87 April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age


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