Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement is a color-by-numbers sequel -- safe enough that there are no outrageous gaffes, bland enough that it's forgotten five minutes after leaving the theater. Any further probing into its strengths (few) and weaknesses (many) is almost irrelevant. Teen indie queen Heather Matarazzo is just one of many secondary characters obliged to return from the original, but given only token dialogue and plot function so the audience may take pleasure in their familiar faces. Princess Diaries 2 revels in the familiar, including the requisite princess-in-training montage, in which Anne Hathaway bumbles and stumbles her way through such aristocratic activities as archery and ballroom dancing. This set piece worked better the first time, when she was fresh and raw, and hadn't already completed her full Eliza Doolittle makeover, which might have rendered a second such regimen unnecessary. It's always nice to see Julie Andrews, but her appropriation of such teen slang as the incredulous exclamation "Shut up!" also seems pretty played. Financially, the formula was certainly worth repeating, as the film accumulated nearly 100 million dollars domestically. Could it have cut out enough side characters and plot contrivances to clock in at less than 113 minutes, and still make the money? Almost certainly, and it might have been worth a marginal recommendation, like the film from which it inherited the throne.
by Derek Armstrong review