The Prince & Me (2004)

Genres - Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Melodrama, Romantic Comedy  |   Release Date - Apr 2, 2004 (USA)  |   Run Time - 112 min.  |   Countries - Czechia , United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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In what must certainly be a bid for a makeover-movie hit along the lines of Pretty Woman (or at least Maid in Manhattan), Julia Stiles instead adds another humorless anti-marriage screed to her resumé with this deeply conflicted romantic confection. The Prince & Me has in its favor a time-tested fantasy-come-true premise (one which recalls the best depression-era comedies), an attractive pair of romantic leads, and a director who knows her way around witty youth product (Martha Coolidge, she of Valley Girl and Real Genius). Unfortunately, after a buoyant if logic-confounding setup, the film takes an improbable turn for the serious, and never quite recovers. Stiles' attempt to emulate the manner of a Midwestern farm girl doesn't quite convince; she has all of the hard-nosed determination but none of the sass or pluck. Though his character is poorly defined (and even more poorly accented), Brit-as-Dane Luke Mably is able to switch from impudent brat to doting suitor in an instant -- good thing, considering that most of his über-playboy's motivations for romance are sketched-in at best. When the bickering pair finally gets together -- for what has to be the warmest, greenest Wisconsin Thanksgiving ever recorded -- The Prince & Me shows signs of being perceptive, funny, and romantic. But Coolidge and the screenwriters attempt to appease The Princess Diaries wish-fulfillment crowd in the film's latter half with a seemingly tacked-on Cinderella story detour, and in doing so, they loudly let the air out of what could've been a shiny, helium-filled, pink balloon of a movie.