The Prince & Me (2004) / Romance-Comedy
MPAA Rated: PG for mild sexuality and language
Running Time: 110 min.
Cast: Julia Stiles, Luke Mably, Ben Miller, James Fox, Miranda Richardson, Eliza Bennett, Alberta Watson, John Bourgeois
Director: Martha Coolidge
Screenplay: Jack Amiel, Michael Begler, Katherine Fugate
The Prince & Me is yet another fairy tale romantic comedy aimed at a young female audience, with a premise so familiar, it's really only meant for those young or simplistic enough to dream that such a series of unlikely events could possibly happen. By its very populist nature, the screenplay is watered down to the most fundamental building blocks of "Cinderella" plotting, then padded with the usual Hollywood formulas when dealing with films aimed at the 12-16 year old crowd: incessant hocking of the soundtrack, embarrassing and contrived situations, and an overloaded, syrupy romance. This isn't the worst of its ilk, but there isn't a fresh idea anywhere to be found, in yet another ironic story of dreams coming true written by those who lack the imagination to dream on their own.
Luke Mably is Edvard, the prince and soon-to-be kind of Denmark. He has become tired of the life of a Danish prince and the popularity that comes with it, and after seeing a "Girls Gone Wild" style advertisement for the hot women of Wisconsin, USA, he decides that he is going to sow some wild oats posing as a college kid at a university there. Unbeknownst to Edvard, not everything is as it appears in sleazy videos, as he meets Paige (Stiles, 10 Things I Hate about You), a dedicated pre-med student who has aspirations of helping the poor and needy in underdeveloped countries get medical care. Edvard and Paige don't get along from the get-go, and things become worse when they are paired as lab partners, but something underneath is evident, and as the two get to know each other, the closer they begin to grow. But will their relationship survive when Edvard is revealed to be something he is not?
Director Martha Coolidge has covered the two lovers from different backgrounds angle before in her popular 80s film, Valley Girl, but to less successful results here. The real problem isn't in casting, direction, or even the idea of the story -- it's the inability to try to do anything new. The Prince & Me delivers exactly what you expect right on down the line, with almost every scene ending exactly the way you think it would when it starts. Stiles is a young actress with talent, but her abilities are underutilized in another cookie-cutter role indistinguishable from many similar films in the genre in recent years, such as The Princess Diaries, Chasing Liberty, and What a Girl Wants. This kind of filmmaking is typically enjoyed only by people who love knowing there's going to be a happy union at the end, and who embrace each situation for their familiarity above all else.
The Prince & Me isn't a film I hated, but that doesn't mean it deserves a passing grade. With just a little more effort and insight, this could have something more than just another pleasant nothing of a movie. You've probably seen it all before, but just in case you haven't, watch Ever After (or even Pretty Woman for older audiences) instead for a formula Cinderella retread done with some distinction.
©2004 Vince Leo