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With: Anne Hathaway, Julie Andrews, Hector Elizondo, Heather Matarazzo, Chris Pine, Callum Blue, Kathleen Marshall, John Rhys-Davies, Tom Poston, Raven, Larry Miller, Caroline Goodall, Abigail Breslin
Written by: Shonda Rhimes and Gina Wendkos, based on characters created by Meg Cabot
Directed by: Garry Marshall
MPAA Rating: G
Running Time: 115
Date: 08/07/2004

The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Crowning Around

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The delightful Anne Hathaway returns in this needless but charming sequel to the 2001 hit The Princess Diaries. Now settled in Genovia, Princess Mia (Hathaway) is poised to take over the throne when her grandmother, the queen (Julie Andrews), steps down. But an obscure law says that the princess must be married before she can become queen, so Mia is given only 30 days in which to choose a husband. On the one hand, she's found the perfectly acceptable Lord Andrew Jacoby (Callum Blue) and on the other hand, sparks fly with the roguish Lord Nicholas Devereux (Chris Pine), whose villainous uncle (John Rhys-Davies) plots to steal the throne. Once again, Hathaway is the key that makes this work; she is utterly natural and relaxed, effortlessly gliding between slapstick and elegance. In one scene, she wanders around the castle wearing a huge poncho and cradling a cup of hot coffee, and she looks stunning. But like Audrey Hepburn, she's far too charismatic for the dull teenage boys she's teamed up with; she probably needs someone older to truly match her. Director Garry Marshall may be the laziest filmmaker alive, but even he manages a few lovely moments of comic timing involving incidental cutaways. And believe it or not, the ending strikes a fairly convincing blow for women's rights. Teen star Raven appears in a small role, presumably at the behest of Disney's wish to sell more Raven-related products. Heather Matarazzo, Hector Elizondo and Larry Miller return from the previous film.

DVD Details: Disney has put together a fully-loaded DVD mostly for kids. It comes with several silly little featurettes, a "blooper" reel that plays more like a party reel, deleted scenes, a music video by the dreaded Kelly Clarkson, a short featuring Disney's Saturday morning TV star Raven and a commentary track by Julie Andrews and Garry Marshall. I know the movie was panned overall, but for me Hathaway's extraordinary screen presence and exuberance make this worth watching again.

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