In Derp Blog Into Darkness, I take a plunge into the deep with movies I’ve never seen or (in some cases) never even heard of, with the only common thread throughout being that they were purchased by my partner in the years after the break with her religious upbringing. This gives me a range from mainstream comfort food to more daring, “rebellious” stuff.
As far as Hollywood ugly duckling stories go, it doesn’t get anymore Hollywood ugly duckling than THE PRINCESS DIARIES. Shortly before her sixteenth birthday, Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway) finds out that her “snooty grandma from Europe who never calls or wants anything to do with us” is in the country and would like to have tea with her. Mia, shunned by fancy high school society* because of her frizzy hair and clumsy ways, is skeptical at her grandmother’s interest, but is convinced by mom to do her that courtesy. Turns out that grandma is actually Queen Clarice of Genovia and Mary Poppins to boot! Daddy done died back in the old country, and Mia is to be heir to the throne, should she accept her mission. This regent will self-destruct in five amendments.
It’s a pretty famous movie, and I was familiar with the basic set-up. So color me surprised that it never actually leaves San Francisco, Mia’s hometown! All the fancy ballroom stuff happens at the Genovian consulate, which I guess is a nice way to cut costs. Why not have Mia be a Vancouver resident and go all the way, huh, Disney? But no! The SF location is actually essential for a couple of gags and a PLOT COMPLICATION in the third act. San Francisco has GAYS and HILLS you see!
No but seriously, Hollywood ugly duckling story. LOL outcast Anne Hathaway! Okay, I really only know Hathaway as THE QUEEN OF HOLLYWOOD that she is now, but come on! Come onnnn! Look at that picture up there! It’s supposed to be all “oh lol this dress it’s SO NOT ME GUYS” but it comes across more as a “aren’t these boots wacky?? gimme my heels back!” to me because it’s Academy Award winning movie star Anne Hathaway. Julie Andrews is feeling underdressed!
The movie! It’s pleasant and gentle and aimed at little girls. Director Garry Marshall of (lawl) PRETTY WOMAN and RUNAWAY BRIDE delivers good pandering, I guess, so there’s that. This was in the pre-TWILIGHT times, so of the two boys Mia has to choose from, one’s actually a douche. But the other puts M&Ms on his keyboard, so I don’t know what’s what! Mia apologizes to him at one point by sending him a pizza with M&Ms spelling out “SORRY” on it. I was so angry! What a waste of pizza and M&Ms! And you know you can’t pick that shit off cuz the chocolate’s gonna be all half melted in the cheese and oh GOD I have to stop thinking about that horrible shit.
My favorite scene is one where Mia has banged her Impala (!!!) into the back of one of those SF trolleys as seen in THE ROCK, and she’s in big trouble and has to come down to the station. Granny Julie, however, uses her queenly demeanor to praise the trolley driver and the cop writing it up, knighting them into the newly-invented Order of the Rose (they were on the corner of Rose & Branch St). The cop and driver’s reactions are all “Aww shucks ma’am, ‘t weren’t nuthin’!” as if this movie was made in 1951 or something and they get off with a warning because that lady was just so gosh durned fancy. That’s cute! Like a movie aimed at ten year olds should be! At one point, Mia and Mandy Moore have a shouting match and they can’t get any nastier than FREAK and JERK! That’s cute too! Is it funny? Cuz it’s a comedy too, right? Ehhhh… maybe? It’s too inoffensive to be really funny, I think, but there are a couple of funny cat reaction shots. Hathaway and Andrews sell it pretty well!
This movie was the big break-out vehicle for Hathaway, so it’s funny that I should only see it a decade after release. In fact, the very first time I saw her in a movie was fucking BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN! I was very aware of this movie though cuz it was pimped pretty hard on the televisions, back when I still watched it. For just this once, we can thank Disney though, cuz this movie launched Anne Best Catwoman Ever Hathaway and the world got a little better. I won’t forgive you for JOHN CARTER’s marketing campaign though, Disney. Ever. YOU HEAR ME?
*including Mandy Moore and that herp-a-derp oldest brother from Complete Savages who Mia wants nothing more than to kiss her already because she has a fetish for the mentally disabled