The Prince & Me review by Mike Long

Every movie needs a plot device to motivate the plot. No matter how abstract, mundane, or pedestrian a film, or even if it's a very realistic drama, something must happen to motivate the characters from Point A to Point B. These plot points typically relate to the plot, ie: fantastic in a sci-fi film, seemingly average in a drama, etc. In most films, we take these elements for granted, or more often, don't even notice them. That isn't the case with The Prince & Me. This film may have one of the worst motivational plot devices of all time and creates a giant speed-bump in the film which could be impossible for many viewers to get over.

In the film, Julia Stiles plays Paige Morgan, a young woman who grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. She is now attending The University of Wisconsin and is studying to be a doctor. Her goal is to do charity work with Doctors Without Borders. The only time that she isn't studying, she's working to make some extra money. Meanwhile, in Denmark, Prince Edvard (Luke Mably) is an embarrassing member of Danish royalty. This rakish young man is more interested in racing cars and fondling women than preparing to take the throne. His parents, King Haraald (James Fox) and Queen Rosalind (Miranda Richardson) are very disappointed in his behavior and are constantly urging him to take things more seriously. While watching TV, Edvard sees a "Girls Gone Wild"-type commercial for a video entitled "Girls of Wisconsin". Upon seeing this, he announces that he wants to travel to Wisconsin to attend college, and although his parents object, he acts upon this whim.

(On the audio commentary accompanying The Prince & Me, director Martha Coolidge states that she doesn't think that Edvard goes to the U.S. simply because he hopes to see topless women. Well, I hate to tell you Martha, that's all that we get from the movie.)

Once Edvard arrives at The University of Wisconsin (where he wants to be known as Eddie), he approaches the first woman that he meets and asks her to take her top off. That woman is Paige and she's deeply insulted by Eddie's advances. She's even more mortified when she finds Eddie in her chemistry class. Things get even weirder when Eddie takes a job in the bar where Paige works. Realizing that she can't get away from Eddie, she approaches him for help in her Shakespeare class. From this, a friendship begins to grow, and when she takes him home for Thanksgiving, a romance starts to blossom. All of that comes to a halt when it's revealed that Eddie is the Prince of Denmark. How will Paige deal with this knowledge and can she see herself becoming royalty?

Although I can't imagine why, someone in Hollywood is determined to turn Julia Stiles into a major movie star. That's the only explanation that I can think of for casting her in this film. Lou Lumenick In the New York Post review of the film, Lou Lumenick stated that the "only possible excuse for this interminable and hackneyed fairy tale is Stiles' real-life need to pay her tuition bills at Columbia University. It may beat waitressing, but not by much." That's pretty hardcore and I wouldn't go that far, but as far as I'm concerned, Stiles is woefully miscast in The Prince & Me, to the point that her performance actually changes the meaning of the film. It wasn't until the third act that I finally began to understand what The Prince & Me was about -- a farm girl from Wisconsin can't become the Queen of Denmark. And the only reason that I grasped that was because Queen Rosalind basically comes out and says it. The implication is that a simple, rural, American girl couldn't be a queen. The reason that I didn't get this point is because Stiles plays Paige as if she's already royalty throughout the film. She's haughty, pretentious, and acts like the main character from that Outkast song Roses. Yes, shes an intelligent college student, but one NEVER gets the sense that she comes from a humble background and is down to Earth. Paige is an impenetrable snob, and one cant help but wonder why Eddie would seriously consider a relationship with her. The role required an actress who is able to let her guard down and show a more simple, tender, and vulnerable side. Instead, the stiffness that emanates from Stiles makes Schwarzenegger look like Gumby. I wont say that she ruins that movie, but The Prince & Me would have been a much different film if someone else had played Paige.

Stiles cant be accused of ruining the film, because it doesnt have much else going for it. Sure, the script is meant to be an archetypal fairy tale set in modern times , but it still comes across as quite stale and hackneyed. The movie is overly long and ends one too many times. The movie doesnt work as a comedy, as there is only one laugh in the film, and the romance isnt very involving or moving. Director Martha Coolidge (Valley Girl) opens the film with some very nice editing, but the remainder of the movie is very slow and pedestrian. Even chicks will want to avoid this annoying chick flick.

The Prince & Me struts onto DVD courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The film is coming to DVD in two separate editions, one full-frame and the other widescreen. For the purposes of this review, only the widescreen version was viewed. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. As with most Paramount DVDs, The Prince & Me shows off a fine transfer. The image is very sharp and clear, showing virtually no grain and no distortion. The colors look very good, most notably the reds and blues, and the hues never run together. Artifacting is kept to a minimum, as is edge-enhancement. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects, showing no signs of hissing or distortion. The audio is delivered mostly from the front and center channels (...mostly...), but the surround sound channels do kick in during the crowd scenes and most especially during the lawnmower race. (Yes, you read that right.)

The Prince & Me DVD contains several extras. We start with the aforementioned audio commentary from director Martha Coolidge. Coolidge speaks at length throughout the film and does a very good job of pointing out the various locations (both in North America and in Europe) where the film was shot. She also talks some about the casting of the film and what it was like to work with the actors. The only problem with the commentary are quotes like the one sited above when Coolidge begins to defend the more ludicrous parts of the film. Next up we have three featurettes. The Lawnmower Race of The Prince & Me (7 minutes) examines the pivotal lawnmower race scene from the film and contains a great deal of behind-the-scenes footage showing how the scene was shot and also has comments from Ian McClintock of the Southwestern Ontario Lawn Tractor Racing Association. Swanky! The Look of The Prince & Me (14 minutes) examines the films costume, sets, and locations. Here we learn more about the European locations in the film and production designer Jim Spencer describes the look of the movie. We get a more standard making-of featurette with Inside the Fairy Tale: The Prince & Me This segment contains comments from the cast & crew and explore the story and the casting, as well as how the ending was chosen. The DVD contains 8 deleted and extended scenes which total about 12 minutes. (There is a Play All feature.) There is one interesting scene involving a joke about Pringles and the alternate ending would have been a nice anti-Hollywood move. The extras are rounded out with a 2 1/2 minute gag reel and the theatrical trailer for The Prince & Me, which is letterboxed at 1.85:1 and is 16 x 9.

3 out of 10 Jackasses

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