Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Prince and Me (2004) [PG] ***

A film review by Claudia Puig, USA TODAY, April 1, 2004.

There's more to The Prince and Me than landing a handsome prince and twirling about in regal finery. The movie also offers a healthy dose of female empowerment. But even its pre-teen audience could use a bit more quirkiness and a little less formula.

The Prince and Me has the right messages about following your dreams and pursuing your ambitions, as well as giving us a likable, down-to-earth heroine in pre-med student Paige Morgan (Julia Stiles).

It would seem that Danish prince Edvard (Luke Mably) would be her polar opposite. He's bored, directionless and cocky. But the two meet cute (a necessary ingredient of any romantic comedy) and are drawn to each other, despite Paige's initial antipathy.

Back in the old country, Edvard watches a ridiculous TV segment about girls of the American heartland and imagines that all of them are corn-fed beauties willing to strip at a moment's notice. The impetuous type, he hops on a plane and enrolls at the University of Wisconsin. Once there, he waltzes into a bar and, after several drinks, asks bartender Paige to take off her top.

Moments like that and a few other racy scenes make one question the movie's PG rating. In one scene set in the library stacks, a couple heatedly peels off their tops to commence a tryst — until Danish newspaper photographers interrupt. There's also a reference by one of Paige's friends to sleeping with a 45-year-old man while on vacation in Italy. It's not germane to the plot and seems inappropriate for a young audience.

Other than those moments, the movie is escapist fun. Once Edvard apologizes for his bad behavior and he and Paige become unwitting lab partners, chemistry overtakes them. Edvard is not a bad guy, and Paige must struggle with her dream of becoming a doctor as their romance turns more serious.

Stiles has an appealing Everygirl quality with better-than-average comic timing and appreciable smarts — a combination that makes a ho-hum character worth rooting for. One wishes the screenplay had provided more laughs, fewer extraneous suggestive moments and a less predictable ending.

Labels: college, comedy, cross-cultural, romance

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