Now a college graduate, Mia (Anne Hathaway) returns home to Genovia to prepare for her coronation to become queen. She then discovers that she must marry a man within thirty days for her family to retain the crown, otherwise, it will be given to Sir Nicholas Devereaux (Chris Pine), with whom she begrudgingly shares a mutual attraction.
Mia eventually chooses Andrew Jacoby (Callum Blue), a perfectly acceptable match who seems better suited for her. But there’s much more to becoming a queen than marrying the right man, and Mia has to learn quickly how to win over the masses before taking over the Genovian monarchy. This while Nicholas and his uncle hatch a plan to make sure Mia never makes it down the aisle.
Despite its fantastical plot and the ever annoying makeover to make our heroine more attractive – straighten the hair, pluck the eyebrows and take away her glasses and now she looks like a proper princess! – I found The Princess Diaries to be a fun, fluffy flick back when it was released. Anne Hathaway showed her first glimmers of being a star, and Julie Andrews is always a treat to watch.
Unfortunately, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement does not hold the same amount of charm. I understood and appreciated the feminist message it was trying to push. Why are women held to different standards than men? They don’t need marriage to be a fair and successful ruler. But we’re beaten over the head with plenty of girl power moments set to girl power anthems to ensure that we know that Mia will be an incredible queen who connects with the people. What better way to do this than to have Mia pull an entire orphanage into a royal parade, or invite all of them to her bridal shower which is essentially a sleepover for young children. I found it all to be incredibly hokey and disjointed, but that seemed to be the theme of the entire movie.
The humor consistently fell flat and admittedly, I rolled my eyes frequently at the dialogue. Even the enemies to lovers trope disappointed, because the moments between Mia and Nicholas felt so contrived and forced. Chris Pine is fine (heh) as Nicholas, but the character suffers from bland leading man syndrome. The movie wants you to believe he’s a bad boy who is going to sabotage Mia’s path to the throne, thus creating proper conflict between him and Mia, but honestly, Nicholas never presents any real threat to make the storyline interesting.
Royal Engagement is, of course, incredibly formulaic, which wouldn’t be much of an issue if it had anything to offer to distract you from its predictability. But it really doesn’t. Okay, that may be a lie. Julie Andrews is as charming as ever, but there’s not enough of her in this film to potentially save it from being completely bland and basic. About twenty minutes to the end, I looked at my husband and said, “I wish this movie was over now.” I think that pretty much sums it up.