Movie Review by Jonathan Harvey
Starring: Julia Stiles, Luke Mably, Ben Miller, James Fox, Miranda Richardson, Eliza Bennett
Director: Martha Coolidge
THE PRINCE AND ME is a modern re-spinning of the old Prince Charming yarn as a feel-good romantic comedy. The ‘Me’ in question is Paige Morgan (Julia Stiles), an American medical student about to start another year’s study and determined to pass her forthcoming exams. Little does she know that her life is about to be turned upside-down by the arrival of Eddie (Luke Malby), a.k.a. Edvard, Crown Prince of Denmark, who thinks spending a year incognito at a Wisconsin University will be a free ticket to loose women and alcohol. Needless to say, Paige and Eddie cross paths and manage spectacularly to defeat each other’s expectations for the year ahead. And that’s before Paige learns of Eddie’s royal heritage.
An immediate problem for films like this is that the audience already knows the main twist of the story before it even starts. The director, Martha Coolidge, manages to counter the threat of boredom by carving out some fun scenes between the two leads, and there is good on-screen chemistry between Stiles and Malby. It’s a shame then, that Coolidge (who was behind the camera for many episodes of SEX AND THE CITY) doesn’t bring much of the style or wit of that TV series to the big screen. It’s all a bit too formulaic and predictable, as Paige and Eddie gradually get together ‘against the odds’, and there’s very little in the way of interesting supporting characters to enjoy. For some reason the casting director decided to choose British actors to play the Danish Royal Family, and only the ever-dependable Miranda Richardson (playing the queen) even attempts a Danish accent. It leaves you wondering whether the filmmakers would much rather have been telling a story about the much higher-profile British royals instead. One noteworthy performance comes from Ben Miller, one half of British TV comedy duo Armstrong & Miller, who puts in a decent turn as the Prince’s servant Soren, and he gets most of the film’s best lines.
Strangely the film only really gets its motor running in the final half-hour, as Paige decides to chase after Eddie once he’s gone back to Denmark to become king. The tone up to this point has been so constant that once Eddie proposes marriage you could expect the credits to follow straightaway. But instead we get to see Paige trying to get used to royal life and we begin to share her dilemma – does she accept the chance to be queen, even it means giving up her dreams? It’s a shame that this is rushed through at the end, as it provides a neat balance to Eddie’s need earlier on to adapt to normal college life, and it gives the story a bit of depth.
Ultimately this movie is a vehicle for Julia Stiles who, having starred in other teen-flicks like 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU and O, again proves she’s the undisputed queen of the college-based romantic comedy genre. She’s a highly talented actress and seems able to handle movies like this on autopilot. Given that she’s currently getting London (West End) stage experience in the intense drama ‘Oleanna’, it would be great to see her taking on meatier film roles too in the near future.
As a straightforward rom-com, though, THE PRINCE AND ME hits the right buttons and it should prove popular with its intended audience of pre-teen/teenage girls, who might well like to see something other than SPIDER-MAN 2 this summer.