Garry Marshall (2001, Walt Disney Pictures)
Starring Julie Andrews, Anne Hathaway, Hector Elizondo,
Heather Matarazzo, and Mandy Moore
A teenaged girl attempts to decide if she wants to
be princess, after discovering that she was born royalty.
June 16th, 2002, on DVD
ery cute, and
entertaining, and the parts that are meant to be funny -are funny!
There was some great character development in Mia, as she grows from this very
shy and reserved, unpopular girl, to someone who has enough confidence to
finally make up her mind, and give the grief that she's been getting for who
knows how long.
I understand the need for Mia to look horrendous at the beginning of the movie,
with her frazzled hair, and her hideous glasses. We have to understand why she
is teased so much. She hangs around with her friend Lilly, who has "ugly hair"
and a strong personality. In short, these two don't conform. But Mia is a
follower, and it is because of her looks, I think, that she is not liked -and
not necessarily because she follows Lilly. Lilly is disliked because she has
strong opinions, is an environmentalist, and expresses them on a cable TV show
of her own!
But it is unfortunate that Mia only looks terrible while at school. When she
ties her hair back to go rock climbing, wearing her contact lenses (or perhaps
some kind of thin-rimmed glasses might have the same effect), she's gorgeous.
And so when she gets the complete make-over, I was not surprised in the
slightest that she was beautiful. Of course, this was somebody else's version of
Beautiful, because I found she was wearing way too much make-up. As that settled
down later in the film, I have to conclude that it was the over-enthusiastic
hair stylist ("you broke my brush") who became over-enthusiastic with the
make-up, as well.
Julie Andrews does a terrific job at being a Queen. She absolutely was
royalty, from her assessing scrutiny of her grand-daughter, to damage control
when word leaks out that Mia is actually a princess. My reaction was similar to
Mia's when Clarisse starts mollifying first the school principal, and then later
the policeman and streetcar driver. And I loved it when those two reappeared at
the end of the film!
Mia goes through growing pains, as any teenager would. She does not have enough
experience being her own person to see when people were using her. This is
wonderfully expressed by her mother, who wonders why Josh has taken a sudden
interest in her, and Mia just brushes it off. Her mother lets her make her own
mistakes, even if they are so very painful, and she has to console her daughter
later. I think that was terrific!
Because Mia just wants to fit in, and the disaster at the beach shows her how
naive she really is. She is oblivious to Lilly's brother's crush on her, just as
Josh was oblivious to Mia's crush on him. But this is a Disney movie, so they
do, of course, get together by the end, and her leg "pops", raising up as they
kiss, and flicks on the fountains and lights! Sappy, but fun, as well.
Being a Garry Marshall film, we had a comedic dinner party, which was more
animated and often funnier (because it was longer) than the similar scene in
Pretty Woman. I love the look on the Asian
consulate's face as the grapes fall from the sky! This is of course after Mia
makes her first dinner gala a complete failure by lighting an arm on fire
(somebody else's), breaking a glass by clinking it for a speech, and causing a
huge comedy routine by chasing a grape under the table. Incidentally, I didn't
think the "evil" baron and his wife were particularly funny, except for his
hilarious line about putting his wife on a postage stamp!
But it is the emotional core of her friends that brings her through. Lilly,
especially, supports her friend, even after being stood up, and kept in the dark
for so long. It is Lilly, and a letter from Mia's deceased father, that make up
her mind to become a princess, so that she can help influence the world,
something particularly important to her activist friend.
Anne Hathaway was really terrific in her part. I hate to characterize her in
terms of other people, but at times, I saw some Natalie Portman in her, at other
times, Claudia Christian, but most of the time, her facial expressions,
especially her eyes and wide smile, reminded me of Julia Roberts, which is
fitting considering the similarities to Pretty Woman.
She was beautiful, once she got rid of the sideways frazzled hair (I liked the
straight hair best, but the all-back frazzled hair was still nice), and took
control of herself (for some moments, anyway), and she was a great actor, as
well as reactor.
Mandy Moore gets to play the bad girl, who is constantly teasing Mia, who has
great coordination, is a cheerleader, is extremely popular, and is dating Josh.
Quite a difference from A Walk to
Remember (I prefer her as a brunette). She is delightfully evil, but not in
an extreme way. She gets to do some singing, too, and professes to the media
that she and Mia have been best friends forever! But after the whole movie of
getting the upper hand on Mia, it's deliciously rewarding to see Mia smother the
girl's chest with ice cream as a come-uppance.
Hector Elizondo was also terrific as Joseph. He was more than just a chauffeur
(didn't he start out as a chief of security?); he became a confidant, and a firm
supporter of Mia's abilities. It was wonderful to see him back in a similar role
to the one he played in Pretty Woman.
As for the DVD, I found it both very rewarding and frustrating. The frustration
was over once the disc was in the player for a few minutes, but we are forced to
go through not only the usual warning signs, but also a Disney logo, and the
beginning of a "coming soon" selection, before the menu button even starts to
work. And after each deleted scene, we are taken back to the main menu, for some
reason! But the menus are really nicely animated.
And the extras are worth it. The deleted scenes were very interesting (select
the "view all" option), mostly because of the commentary by the director. The
behind the scenes featurette was wonderful, as well, about half an hour showing
us the making of a princess. It had some really interesting stuff, including how
much fun it can be to make a movie. Each section of this segment is introduced
by the beautiful Anne Hathaway.
I don't think I've ever sat through so much of a Director's Commentary in one
sitting! I went through nearly half the movie again, listening, completely
fascinated, to Garry Marshall speak about the movie. He is such a terrific
speaker, making you think that he is only talking to you, giving you special
secrets that nobody else knows. And he was very passionate, talking about
everybody and everything. Here we learned that they used four different cats,
one for carrying, sitting, moving, and the "trick" of sitting on the envelope.
And every time the cat would appear, he would break from his commentary to point
it out! This guy must be a complete ball to work with. His target audience is
obviously a young person, but he never quite talks down to the viewer. As I
mentioned, it took half the movie before I finally got tired of it -and not for
any lack on the director's part. I was just not interested in watching the movie
a second time the next night! This, of course, means that I need to get the
Pretty Woman DVD, just to listen to his commentary
on that one!
The movie was light, and a lot of fun. The actors were really good at what they
were doing. If the plot was a little predictable, who cares? It was also
logically drawn from one point to the next. I did wonder why the Queen of
Genovia was celebrating the country's independence in the US instead of at home,
though... The sets were great, though, and the comedy was funny. We can't ask
for much more.