The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement

on August 11, 2004 by Bridget Byrne
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There's a point in "Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement" at which--if you are still paying attention--you will hear a character talk about what a shame it would be if so much effort amounted to so little result. Well it has.

Despite all the excessive overlays of set-design, costuming and sugary sweet sappiness, this sequel is a dead artifact. It's like a little girl's let's-play-dress-up-and-tea-party package of brightly colored plastic toys. It doesn't ring true and it doesn't work as fantasy, and it runs on, and on, and on...

The now beautiful Princess Mia learns she must marry if she is to succeed her grandmother as ruler of the quaint sovereign state of Genovia (where one only wishes a Marx brother could show up to make the place amusing instead of stodgily silly). Anne Hathaway, who transformed from geek to glorious in the first movie, is charming and lovely. She does her best to make us believe she's still occasionally clumsy and always concerned about the tug-of-war between love and duty, but her big smile can't disguise the film's hollow heart. Julie Andrews as the regal grandma is left with little to do but wave her arms around to show off yet another costume change or props from china place settings to tiaras. But pity most Heather Matarazzo, so brilliant in "Welcome to the Dollhouse," now stuck with trying to pump her unique talents into playing the underwritten Jane Withers-style best friend role. The only real survivor is Fat Louie, who looks convincingly pleased with his lot in life, even when being chased by a poodle. But he's a cat, so he's content to feel above it all and let everyone else appear foolish as they fail to turn artificial dross into artificial gold. Starring Anne Hathaway, Heather Matarazzo, Julie Andrews, John Rhys-Davies and Hector Elizondo. Directed by Garry Marshall. Written by Shonda Rhimes. Produced by Debra Martin Chase, Whitney Houston and Mario Iscovich. A Buena Vista release. Romantic comedy. Rated G. Running time: 113 min

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