Preteen girl looking at a cell phone with her parents

Family movie night? There's an app for that

Download our new mobile app on iOS and Android.

Parents' Guide to

What a Girl Wants

By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Too-cute with a few iffy moments, but tweens will eat it up.

Movie PG 2003 100 minutes
What a Girl Wants Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 11+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 10+

Predictable and uninspiring

This film is very predictable. It's a shame that these quality actors were given so little to do. Bynes is charming, but comes across a bit too vapid and of course the film wraps up in a tight little package that is grossly unrealistic. At times the film feels like a throwback to the Princess Diaries and Sabrina and Gigi and and and...everyone is charming on the surface but there is not much tofu underneath. The patriarchal overtones and its gatekeepers are all over this teen flick.
age 12+

Clichéd 'Fairy Tale'

While this film seems a bit harmless and fun, the lack of a believable storyline really hampered it. If this is really 'What a girl wants,' she is never going to get it in real life! Too cliched, implausible and unrealistic. It is basically a fairy tale, but not an interesting one ...

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3 ):
Kids say (13 ):

It may feel to some people like an adorableness overdose, but this movie's intended audience will enjoy it very much. 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. 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.

Movie Details

Inclusion information powered by

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate