Archive for orphans

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

December Boys

Posted in Drama, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on August 17, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

This film is a coming of age picture for the four main characters, and how their lives change over one Christmas holiday. The film is set in late 1960s Australia. Four orphan boys from a Roman Catholic orphanage in the outback of Australia – Maps, Misty, Spark and Spit – were all born in the month of December, and for their birthday, they are sent on a holiday to the beach to stay with Mr. and Mrs. McAnsh. While there, they meet Fearless, a man who claims to be the risk motorbike rider in the nearby carnival, and his wife, Teresa. Misty, Spark and Spit instantly become closer to Teresa, but Maps, eldest of the four, is still reluctant to talk to her. He instead finds more fun in spending time with an older teenage girl named Lucy, who had come to the beach to stay with her uncle. He often goes up to a place with strange rocks, and meets her there.

A few days later, the orphans peek through a window in Fearless’ house to see Teresa undressing, but Misty, being the most religious of the four, throws a rock at the wall to make them go away. Misty runs back to Mr. McAnsh’s house and looks through the small opening of a door to see someone in the shower, only to find that it is the sickly Mrs. McAnsh. They soon discover that she has breast cancer.

One night, Misty overhears Fearless talking to his friends about the possibility of adopting one of the orphans. Excited about the opportunity to finally have parents, he keeps it to himself until he decides to reveal it to a priest who has driven to the beach for the orphans’ confessions. The other boys realise that he is taking too long, and once he is finished, they force it out of him with the threat of Spit spitting on him while he is pinned to the ground. Misty, Spark and Spit are eager to compete for the love of the seemingly perfect Fearless and Teresa, but Maps is less than excited, even saying to Lucy, “What’s the big deal about parents, anyway?” Maps experiences his first kiss with Lucy, and soon loses his virginity to her in one of the caves of the Remarkable Rocks.

There, she tells him to promise that he will always remember her as his first. The next day, he goes up to the Remarkable Rocks, only to find Lucy is not there. Her uncle tells him that she’s left the beach to return to her father, and will not likely be back until next summer. Heartbroken, he goes to the carnival to find Fearless and talk to him, but discovers that he is not a motorbike rider there, and instead cleans up after the animals. Furious that he’d lied all along, he finds a painting made by Misty of him as the son of Fearless and Teresa, and destroys it. Misty attacks him and hits him with the fragments of the frame he’d put the painting in, and the bond between the four orphans is broken.

Fearless finds Maps in the cave of the Remarkable Rocks, and explains to him what had really happened. It is revealed to that Fearless was formerly a bike rider, and did all of the stunts with Teresa riding on the back of the bike. Then, there was an accident that kept Teresa in the hospital for nearly a year, making her unable to have children. That was the reason they had wanted to adopt one of the orphans.

Maps returns to the beach and finds out from Spark and Spit that Misty has gone into the water, and is drowning. Maps goes after him despite the fact that he cannot swim. Both he and Misty nearly drown. Underwater, they open their eyes to see a vision of the Virgin Mary, possibly meaning that they are dying. Before they can reach out to it, the two boys are grabbed by Fearless and brought back to the shore. Maps and Misty reconcile with each other and the four are friends again.

The next day, the boys are called to Fearless’ and Teresa’s house for an announcement. There, they reveal the couple is going to adopt Misty. He takes leave of his friends and he watches on the front porch with Fearless and Teresa as the other three orphans walk away and begin playing on some rocks down the beach. Misty realises that they are his true family, and asks Fearless and Teresa if he can stay with them instead. They accept, and he returns home with the orphans.

Many decades later, Misty, as an old man, drives to the same beach along with the ashes of Maps, who had recently died while working as a priest in Africa helping refugees, and Lucy’s ring that she gave to Maps on that holiday long ago. He meets up with Spark and Spit, and they toss the ashes & ring loose into the wind from the hill above the beach, remembering Maps and their time there, with a cheer to “The December Boys

REVIEW:

There was a time, not that long ago, that audiences were wondering if Daniel Radcliffe could do anything in his career besides play Harry Potter. He answered this question not only with this film, December Boys,, but also with a turn on Broadway in the play Equus, which saw him totally disrobe. I think it is safe to say that he can do more than play Harry, wouldn’t you?

What is this about?

After living together for years at a Catholic orphanage, four teenage boys must face the likelihood that they’ll never be adopted. But while on vacation, the boys become rivals as they compete for the affections of two prospective parents.

What did I like?

Coming of age. Look back to films such as The Outsiders, My Girl, Stand By Me, etc. Those were flicks that showed us a period of time where the characters were…”coming of age”. This film does the same thing and, from what I can recall, is the first of its kind in quite some time. I wonder why they stopped making films in this subgenre.

Characters. Anytime you take a story that involves multiple characters, you need to give each of them decent amounts of screentime. For the most part, this film does that and also throws in a few other characters. Is this a study in character study? A little bit, but that isn’t the main reason for being, if you will, for this film. Or is it?

What didn’t I like?

Dull. I really hate to say this, but this film is just plain dull and boring. I was fighting dozing off the whole way through it. The only time anything interesting happened, such as the super cute Teresa Palmer appearing, it doesn’t last long and we go back to having to sit through the equivalent of a lecture.

Horse. Perhaps I missed something regarding it, but there is this horse that randomly shows up. I’m not sure if it is really there or if it is some kind of hallucination, but it sort of makes no sense for it to be there, especially given the tone of the film. At the same time, though, it was a nice change of pace and lightened things up. Still, I believe it was misplaced.

I applaud Daniel Radcliffe for taking the chance and stretching out from the Potter universe with December Boys, but this was not a film that worked for me. My goodness, I hope the book isn’t this boring! Sure, there are those out there that will enjoy this, and that’s fine. More power to you, but for me, this is one of those films that exists for the artsy-fartsy crowd. Obviously, that isn’t me. If you’re into tis kind of flick, though, give it a shot.

3 out of 5 stars