Nightlife

The Prince And Me

by Jennifer Bubriski
Contributor
Tuesday Aug 10, 2004
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So, of the many valuable lessons we’ve learned from the sad tale of Princess Diana is that princesses do not live happily ever after. Hasn’t stopped us from wanting to be princesses though, so wouldn’t it be cool if in the midst of the movie wish-fulfillment, a Cinderella tale dealt with what happens after happily ever after?

Well, although "The Prince and Me" wants to be that film, it doesn’t really succeed. In trying to both embrace proto-feminist ideals and revel in the fun princess perks of worshipping crowds and gobs of Harry Winston jewels, this Julia Stiles flick fails to get the essential romance right.

Stiles stars as a pre-med student in Wisconsin who’s determined to go to Johns Hopkins, join Doctors Without Borders, and generally save the world while accomplishing all her goals. When she meets Prince Edvard of Denmark, conveniently attending the same Wisconsin university incognito (he’s in search of dairy land girls gone wild promised in the infomercials), she finds what might be true love. As she falls for Edvard and learns his true identity, she struggles with whether her dream lover will sideline her other dreams.

Stiles has become the poster girl for smart chicks who need to loosen up. If you want a movie character to radiate teenage spunkiness, you’ve got a bunch of Lindsays and Hillarys to choose from, but if you need your character to embody intelligence and seriousness in a cute package, then Julia is your go to girl. In past movies like "10 Things I Hate About You" and "Save the Last Dance", Julia has shown the darker, moodier side of adolescence to good effect. Although her character is college age in "The Prince and Me", she isn’t stretching beyond her past efforts.

She and Luke Mably, who plays Prince Edvard, do have a certain chemistry (there’s a fairly chaste hand holding scene in a college library that generate some nice heat between the two), and there’s a bit of hillbilly fun when Edvard wins a tractor race while visiting her family. However, once she leaps to join her beau overseas for his upcoming coronation, the movie loses steam.

Everything’s terribly noble. Edvard, who started out as Denmark’s version of Princess Stephanie, always in the tabloids for one indiscretion or another, has learned from Stiles’s character how the little people live and has matured enough to lead a union negotiation when he must assume the throne. The initially crabby queen, played by Miranda Richardson, realizes that Stiles isn’t the end of the monarchy but rather a fresh beginning for it. And Stiles learns that some dreams and her own identity can’t be sacrificed. With all this earnestness, the fun gets left behind.

"The Prince and Me" wants to be so much better a movie than your average young adult romantic comedy and just ends up being kind of mildly entertaining. You can certainly applaud its ideals, but if you want a little more entertainment and a little less learning, skip this fairy tale.

A ton of deleted and extended scenes, including an alternate ending (which actually doesn’t end up being any more satisfying than the ending used in the movie), a couple of behind the scenes featurettes with lots of earnest interviews with cast and crew, plus commentary from the director Martha Coolidge. However, the gem of the special features has to be the strangely fascinating making-of featurette of the tractor race scene. You’re treated to interviews with people from the U.S. federation of tractor racers (yes, there is such a thing), one of whom proclaims that tractor racing is the ultimate hillbilly sport. I will not say him nay.

Jennifer has an opinion on pretty much everything and is always happy to foist it upon others.

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