The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004)

(On TV, May 2017) There really isn’t a whole lot to say about The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, other than it does take up the Disney Princess wish fulfillment of its target audience even beyond the high-water mark of the first film (but seriously: a lavish princess slumber party?). The plot is clearly for the kids (this is a movie in which the villain quickly announces himself sotto voice to the audience) and quickly cycles through an episodic series of misunderstandings and dirty tricks. Anne Hathaway stars, making everyone a bit nostalgic for the phase of her career when she could play the bubbly long-haired ingénue: as of 2017, it’s been awhile since we’ve seen her in anything but a series of increasingly dour roles. Also notable is Chris Pine as a love interest, young but already charismatic back then. Julie Andrews gets a few laughs, while John Rhys-Davies doesn’t get much to do but sneer as the villain. Much of the film is tough to review for a middle-aged man, as it’s clearly meant for pre-teen merriment. There’s some lip service paid to deflating the idea of an arranged royal marriage, but it’s almost immediately undercut by the romance between the lead couple. Ah well; everyone goes into this movie for proxy royal thrills rather than enlightenment about the tension between love and duty. The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement is a perceptible step down from the first film, but it should still please those who liked the first film a lot.

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