Archive for Heather Matarazzo

The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement

Posted in Chick Flicks, Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 7, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Five years after the first film, Crown Princess of Genovia Amelia “Mia” Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway) has just graduated from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School and is returning to Genovia with her bodyguard Joe (Héctor Elizondo). There, she will await her reign once her grandmother, Queen Clarisse (Julie Andrews), steps down as Queen. During Mia’s 21st birthday party, she dances with all the eligible bachelors in hope of finding a husband. She becomes attracted to a handsome gentleman named Nicholas (Chris Pine). During the course of the night, Mia’s tiara falls off and is caught by a Member of Parliament, Viscount Mabrey (John Rhys-Davies) who secretly plans to steal Mia’s crown. While the Parliament is in-session the next morning, Mia stumbles upon a hidden room that allows her to secretly listen in. Viscount Mabrey reveals his nephew, Lord Devereaux, is another heir to the Genovian throne. Despite Queen Clarisse’s objection, the only way Mia can assume her duties as Queen is if she marries within the month. Clarisse invites Lord Devereaux to stay at the palace, while Mia is shocked to discover Lord Devereaux is Nicholas. Mia’s best friend Lilly Moscovitz (Heather Matarazzo) surprises her by visiting. Together, they pick through potential husbands. Mia eventually chooses Andrew Jacoby (Callum Blue), Duke of Kenilworth and days later they are engaged. Mabrey plans to have Nicholas woo Mia and dissolve the engagement.

For a ceremony, Mia is to ride sidesaddle but does not know how. Queen Clarisse provides an ancestral wooden leg decoy to make it look like she’s riding sidesaddle. Mabrey spooks Mia’s horse with a rubber snake and Joe rushes to Mia’s aide, but accidentally tears off the wooden leg. Humiliated, Mia flees to the stables, where Nicholas fails to comfort her. At a garden party, Mia and Nicholas quarrel about Mia’s relationship with Andrew; Nicholas tricks Mia into admitting she doesn’t love him. Angered, she argues but instead gets bombarded by a kiss. At first, she kisses him back but then backs away. Nicholas pursues her even more, which causes both of them to fall into a fountain. Queen Clarisse finally tells Mia that her behavior with Nicholas needs to stop.

During the Genovian Independence Day parade, Mia sees some boys picking on a little girl (Abigail Breslin), and abruptly halts the parade to comfort the girl. Learning the children are orphans, Mia has a vendor give them all tiaras and lets them walk with her in the parade. Everyone is impressed by her act of generosity, while Mabrey sees it as a political maneuver. Mia later decides to convert one of the royal palaces into a temporary children’s center. That night, Mia has her bachelorette/sleepover party, where Queen Clarisse surfs on a mattress and sings a duet with Princess Asana (Raven-Symoné), one of Mia’s good friends. In the meantime, Mabrey realizes Nicholas has fallen for Mia, but Nicholas says that Mia will never love him. Nicholas comes upon Mia as she is practicing her archery as part of her coronation rites. He helps her succeed in getting the arrow to hit the bullseye, something she had been struggling with. Nicholas then informs Mia that he is leaving, but asks to see her just one more time before he goes. She declines, saying she is under close guard.

That night, Nicholas appears outside Mia’s window and asks her to come out. Lilly encourages her to go, and Mia sneaks out. They ride out to a lake where they share secrets, dance and eventually fall asleep. They awaken to find a man in a boat videotaping them. Mia thinks Nicholas set her up, while he insists he had no idea. By the time Mia gets back to the palace, the scandalous footage is already being broadcast. Andrew is disappointed and kisses Mia to see if there is a romantic spark between them. They realize they do not love each other, but do not call off the wedding for the good of Genovia. The wedding is to take place the following day, and Mia’s mother Helen (Caroline Goodall) comes with her new husband Patrick (Sean O’Bryan) and their newborn son Trevor. Nicholas decides against attending, but his surly housekeeper Gretchen informs him that Mabrey engineered their televised scandal.

Right before the wedding, Joe informs Mia that Nicholas is innocent. Queen Clarisse encourages Mia to follow her heart, something she has never done and has now cost her Joe, the only man she truly loved. Mia reenters the church, and after pointing out how her grandmother has ruled Genovia while unmarried for a number of years, she tells the members of parliament in the audience to consider the significant women in their lives (such as their wives, sisters, daughters and nieces) and questions if they would have them do what they’re trying to force her to do (marrying people they don’t love). Mabrey cites the law again and once again suggests that his nephew be named King, but just then, Nicholas not only refuses the crown, but also disowns Mabrey as his uncle. Mia proposes the law on royal marriages be abolished, and the Parliament unanimously gives its assent. Encouraged by Mia to have her own happy ending, Clarisse proposes to Joe and they are promptly married.

About a week later, Mia is preparing for her coronation when Nicholas shows up. He professes his love for Mia on bended knees, and they share a romantic kiss. The next day, Mia is crowned “Her Majesty Amelia Mignonette Thermopolis Renaldi, Queen of Genovia”, with all in attendance in the royal palace.

An epilogue shows that Genovian Parliament now allows female members, one of whom is Charlotte. And Queen Mia officially opens the children’s home

REVIEW:

Sometimes when the end credits roll on a film you wonder if you will ever see the characters again and what will they be up to the next time we see them, should we be privileged enough to see them again. This was the case with The Princess Diaries. The film ended in a way that left the audience wondering what happens next. Enter The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, a film that I swear I was not meant to see (up until tonight, I have never been able to watch it straight through for various reasons). With all that aside, let’s see if this film is comparable to its predecessor.

What is this about?

Directed by Garry Marshall, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement picks up where its predecessor left off — that is, with American teenager Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway) reeling over the news that she is a princess within the royal family of Genovia, a little-known European nation with a population of barely 50,000. As promised, Mia, along with her best friend, Lilly (Heather Matarazzo), travels to Genovia after their high-school graduation. The unlikely princess has hardly settled into the castle, let alone begun representing the country, when she learns that a larger title is approaching more rapidly than expected; it seems as though Mia will have to take over as queen. Suddenly, in addition to further schooling on the etiquette of royalty, Mia finds herself with a daunting prospect — according to Genovian law, all princesses must be married before they can be crowned.

What did I like?

One more once. Not too long before the first film was made, Julie Andrews underwent surgery on her throat/vocal chords. The operation was a success, but she was no longer allowed to sing. I’m not sure what happened, but we get a song from her during the slumber party, albeit nowhere near as strong a vocal performance as we expect from her. Still, it is great to hear her sing a few notes.

In her skin. In this second time out, Anne Hathaway, as Princess Mia, seems much more confident both as an actress and the character as a royal. Can you imagine what this would have been like if she was still bumbling around like she was when we first met her? Granted, she does still have those moments that remind us that while she is the would be queen, the clumsy prep school girl is still in there somewhere.

Grandmother. Julie Andrews’ character is on her way out of the royal spotlight and off the throne as Mia takes her rightful place as ruler of Genovia. It is because of this that I think she is able to not be such a “stick in the mud” and be more of a grandmother towards her granddaughter. We get a few scenes where she is chewing her out, of course, but for the most part, she is the dream grandmother we all wish we had. She had poise, class, elegance, compassion…not to mention she’s Julie Freakin’ Andrews!!!

What didn’t I like?

Nevermore. Aside from her best friend, Lily, who was flown in from California (and felt a bit forced into the film), Mia seems to be close to Princess Asana. There are two glaring issues I want to bring up with this. First, if they are so close, why is Asana only in a couple of scenes? Second, who is she? How did they meet? Why are they so close? Mia grew up with Lily and they were both outsider freaks in high school, so we know that’s why they were so close, but with Asana, we get none of that. She’s just a random character that gets to sing with Julie Andrews.

Formula 1. Is it me or with every film, book, or tv show that involves a royal change of power of sorts, we get someone who wants to prove they are next in line. This is such a cliché’ nowadays. One could tell what was going to happen before it actually does, just by the film’s title and the type of film this is. Come on filmmakers, be creative!

Lionel. Joe, who is retiring when the Queen leaves the throne, is sacked with an intern in his last days. What I found odd about this guy was how he reminded me of Michael from the first film, but with darker skin and slightly shorter hair. This got me thinking…with the way Mia fawned over Michael in the first film, wouldn’t it have been a cool idea for him to show up as Lionel in disguise and be her dream ending? Of course, then Chris Pine’s whole character in this film would be worthless, but he goes on too much bigger and better things after this, so he’ll be fine.

Final verdict on The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement? Let’s see…it repeats some of the same notes from the first film. The soundtrack isn’t as catchy this go-round. Chemistry among the characters is so-so, but I actually believed it in the archery scene with Hathaway and Pine. The mattress surfing scene was perhaps the most fun part of the film. Do I recommend this? Yes, a good (non animated) family film is hard to find. While not great, it is somewhat entertaining and that’s worth something. However, I would suggest going for the first film, if you can.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

The Princess Diaries

Posted in Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Teenager Mia Thermopolis lives with her artist mother, Helen, and her black and white cat, Fat Louie, in a remodeled San Francisco firehouse. A somewhat awkward and unpopular girl, she is terrified of public speaking and often wishes to be “invisible”. She has a crush on the popular Josh Bryant, but is frequently teased by both him and his cheerleader girlfriend, Lana Thomas. Mia’s only friendships are in the form of the equally unpopular Lilly Moscovitz and Lilly’s brother Michael, who secretly has a crush on Mia.

Just before her 16th birthday, Mia learns her paternal grandmother, Clarisse, is visiting from (the fictional) Genovia, a small European kingdom. When Mia goes to meet her at a large house (later revealed to be the Genovian consulate), Clarisse reveals she is actually Queen Clarisse Renaldi, and that her son, Mia’s late father, was Crown Prince of Genovia. Mia is stunned to learn she is a princess and heir to the Genovian throne. In shock, Mia runs home and angrily confronts her mother, who explains she had planned to tell Mia on her 18th birthday, but that her father’s death has forced the matter. Queen Clarisse visits and explains that if Mia refuses the throne, Genovia will be without a ruler (a subplot involves a scheming baron and his unsightly baroness quietly rooting for Mia’s downfall). Helen persuades a hesitant Mia to attend “princess lessons” with the Queen, telling her she does not have to make her decision until the upcoming Genovian Independence Day ball.

Mia is given a glamorous makeover, the use of a limousine and a bodyguard (the Queen’s head of security, Joe). This and Mia’s frequent absences for the lessons make Lilly suspicious and jealous, so she accuses Mia of trying to be like the popular girls. Mia breaks down and tells Lilly everything, swearing her to secrecy. However, the San Francisco Chronicle learns that Mia is the Genovian Crown Princess after hairdresser Paolo breaks his confidentiality agreement (so his work would be known), causing a press frenzy, and a sudden surge in popularity at school for Mia. In a craven urge for fame, many of her classmates (mostly Lana) bluff that they are friends of the princess to reporters.

At a state dinner, Mia embarrasses herself with her clumsiness, delighting her rivals for the crown. However, all is not lost as the situation amuses a stuffy diplomat, and the Queen tells Mia the next day she found it fun. Deciding it is time the two bonded as grandmother and granddaughter, the Queen allows Mia to take her out in Mia’s late 60s Ford Mustang convertible for the day to the Musée Mécanique, an amusement arcade. The day almost ends terribly when Mia’s car stalls a hill and rams backward into a cable car, but Queen Clarisse saves the day by “appointing” the attending police officer and the tram driver to the Genovian “Order of the Rose” (something she clearly made up on the spot), flattering them into dropping any charges. Mia sees this and is impressed with her grandmother.

Later, Mia is delighted when Josh Bryant invites her to a beach party, but her acceptance hurts Lilly and Michael, with whom she had plans (the former wanting Mia to appear on her self-made cable show, and the latter wanting her to watch his band perform). Things go wrong when the press arrive, tipped off by Lana. Josh uses Mia to get his 15 minutes of fame by publicly kissing her, while Lana tricks her into changing in a tent, pulling it away as the paparazzi arrive, giving them a scandalous shot of her in a towel. She breaks down into tears in her mother’s arms when she gets home. The photos appear on tabloid covers the following day, leaving Queen Clarisse furious at Mia. A humiliated Mia tells her that she is renouncing the throne, feeling she is nowhere near ready to be a true princess. Joe later reminds the Queen that although Mia is a princess, she is still a teenager and her granddaughter.

Back at school, Mia attempts to rescue her friendships with Lilly and Michael by inviting them to the Genovian Independence Day Ball, gets back at Josh for using her by hitting a baseball into his gut during gym class, and finally stands up to Lana when she is cruel to Lilly’s friend Jeremiah, publicly humiliating her by smearing ice cream on her cheerleader outfit and telling her that while she (Mia) might grow out of her proclaimed odd ways, she (Lana) will never stop being a jerk; the teachers do not interfere, knowing Lana deserved it. While Lilly is excited at the prospect of attending a royal ball, Michael, brokenhearted over Mia’s initial feelings for Josh, turns her down. Clarisse apologizes to Mia for being furious at her over the beach incident, and states that she must publicly announce her decision to become princess of Genovia. Mia, terrified at this large responsibility placed upon her, plans to run away. However, when she finds a letter from her late father, his touching words make her change her mind, and she makes her way to the ball. Mia’s car breaks down in the rain, but she is rescued by Joe, who had suspected she was going to run.

When they arrive, a drenched and untidy Mia voices her acceptance of her role as Princess of Genovia. Mia gets dressed up and accompanies Clarisse to the ballroom, where she is formally introduced and invited to dance. Michael, accepting an apologetic gift from Mia (a pizza with M & M candies cleverly topped to say “sorry”), arrives at the ball, and after a quick dance, they adjourn to the courtyard. Mia confesses her feelings to him, stating that even when she was constantly teased and embarrassed at school, he liked her for who she truly was. Mia shares her first kiss with Michael, while Clarisse and Joe are seen holding hands. In the final scene Mia is shown on a private plane with Fat Louie, writing in her diary, explaining she is moving with her mother to Genovia, just as the beautiful royal palace and landscape come into view below.

REVIEW:

I’ve been writing reviews here for nearly 10 yrs and one of the films that I get the most flak for not reviewing is The Princess Diaries. There is no reason for me not reviewing this film before this morning. It just happens to have slipped through the cracks up to this point, but since I was able to watch the whole this for the first time in forever, allow me to share my thoughts on this film.

What is this about?

The life of gawky Mia Thermopolis changes drastically after learning she’s the heir to a European principality’s throne. But as her royal grandmother schools Mia on conducting herself with gracious disdain, she ends up at odds with her best friend.

What did I like?

Introducing Anne Hathaway. Today, she is viewed as one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood, but when this was released in 2001, no one knew who Anne Hathaway was. I must say, for an introductory film, she knocked it out of the park, giving a performance that is not only scene stealing, but hints at the great actress she will turn into in the coming years. On top of that, she has some nice chemistry with Dame Julie Andrews, who is playing her estranged grandmother. More on that shortly.

Real teens. We’ve seen teens portrayed ad nauseam in TV and movies, but I think this is one of the few films where they actually felt like teenagers act (or acted at the time). There is no random kid who seems to have unlimited amounts of money, but still goes to high school. Mia and her friend are social outcasts for the most part and, while they aren’t popular, they aren’t getting pranked, ridiculed, or something more life altering (see Central Intelligence). All in all, with the exception of Mandy Moore’s head cheerleader character, who is in the same vein as her character from Saved! btw, none of the teens we meet are cartoonish caricatures.

Can she be my grandmother? No matter what your age, chances are Julie Andrews had a part in raising you, be it as Mary Poppins, Maria von Trapp, or just her normal, warm-hearted self. Those were characters she made popular in the 60s, though. Fast forward some 40 years and here she is as a grandmother. I can’t help but wish she was mine, though. She is firm but fair, regal, elegant and did I mention she’s Julie freakin’ Andrews?!?

What didn’t I like?

Joe. After Mia first meets the Queen and is told she is a princess, she runs out. The next couple of scenes seem oddly cut, as Queen Clarice asks Joe to keep an eye on her and he introduces himself as “…the head of her security, not a chauffeur and a babysitter[sic].” For a character that plays such an important role throughout the film, his introduction felt…I dunno…underwhelming because of how that was cut. It wouldn’t have been so bad, except that is the only time in the entire film the editing was so choppy.

Papa, can you hear me? I have never read the book this was based on, so my familiarity with these characters hinges strictly on what I see on film. I’m sure more than a few viewers feel the same way. This brings in to question the legend of Mia’s father. Throughout the film, especially around the time Queen Clarice shows up, everyone starts mentioning the accident, but that is all we know. Obviously, giving graphic details about what happened would have brought the film down, but just a little information would have been nice like, I don’t know, what kind of accident that took his life and inadvertently put all this pressure on young Mia’s shoulders

Makeover. One of the big problems people have with makeovers, in movies especially, is that the person being made over is obviously drop-dead gorgeous in the first place. Take She’s All That for example. Rachel Leigh Cook is a total cutie, and even though they stuck a thick pair of glasses on her and shoved the poor girl in some baggy overalls, it didn’t hide the fact that she was a total hottie. This was even mentioned in the film! With Anne Hathaway, they did something very similar, giving her some “Groucho Marx meets Brooke Shields” eyebrows, unkept curly hair, and an all around geeky look. Anne was still developing into the beautiful creature she is today, but she was still extremely gorgeous back then, and it was obvious, despite attempts to hide it.

Final thoughts on The Princess Diaries? Well, first off, this is one of those squeaky clean family films that Garry Marshall excelled in making. The introduction of young Anne Hathaway as the titular princess was actually a pretty good idea. As we’ve seen her career take off from this film. I wonder where the other actresses who were considered/audition for the part are today. There is very little negative that I have to say about this picture. Do I recommend it? Yes, very much so! This needs to be on your list of movies to watch before you die! Check it out, if you haven’t already!

5 out of 5 stars