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|Kevin Krock, editor|
It seems like I was just sitting down in a theatre with my two girls to watch the Princess Diaries sequel and here it is on DVD, just in time for the holidays. In case you didn't catch the film in its theatrical release, Mia, the teenager who discovers she is a princess, has completed college and is now ready to become queen of the fictional European country of Genovia (Prague was supposed to be the stand-in for Genovia, but due to complications, Genovia ended up being a back lot in Burbank). An ancient Genovian law states that princesses must be married before being crowned, and Mia has to decide if an arranged marriage is worth the price of becoming queen. The same thing happened to a cousin of mine recently. Not really.
When I originally reviewed the film I was pretty disappointed in the quality of the sequel. I felt that the fun, quirky characters from the first film were given little to do, and that the suitors for Mia's hand were pretty lackluster. Julie Andrews is center stage, and I will never complain about that; however, Mia's mother (Caroline Goodall) is relegated to a walk-on role, which I found very odd and annoying. The very person Mia looked to for advice and comfort in the first film was now walking in at Mia's wedding chirping, What's happening? Did she get married yet?
None of the plot problems have changed on the DVD. However, I've noticed that Princess Diaries 2 is very well suited for the small screen. I suppose I am more forgiving of DVDs since I can fold laundry or grade homework while I am watching. This DVD does the trick for keeping company during housework, and keeping young girls occupied for 113 minutes. My girls adored the first Princess Diaries film and the sequel is equally as popular in our house.
The bonus features in this one-disc release are not as plentiful as in the first Princess Diaries DVD, which was released as a special edition two-disc set. None of the sequel's bonues are particularly noteworthy. They include outtakes and blooperswhich are very standard now for most DVD releases, a Kelly Clarkson video, and a Find Your Inner Princess quiz.
There were a few special features worth watching, however. In The Princess Diaries 2 Makeover, Anne Hathaway's stand-in for the film shows viewers some of the beautiful gowns Princess Mia wore in the film and talks to the costume designer. A lot of girls (of all ages) will enjoy getting a close-up look at these costumes and hearing about how they were made; at times the outfits in each scene were more interesting than what was going on in the plot itself. Anne's stand-in also gets some hair and makeup tips from stylists; this part is much less interesting. In Making a Return Engagement, Raven narrates a backstage look at the making of Princess Diaries 2 and includes some interviews with the cast. This feature is interesting until they start promoting Raven's song on the Princess Diaries 2 soundtrack; go ahead and press disc menu at this point and head back to the Deleted Scenes feature introduced by Garry Marshall. As usual, Marshall does an excellent job of explaining why a particular scene was filmed, and then why it had to be cut.
The best part of the special features is the commentary by Julie Andrews and Garry Marshall. The pair have a great, comfortable rapport and chat their way through the film. Andrews talks about what it was like to be made a dame by Queen Elizabeth, points out her daughter in a ballroom scene and explains how Garry Marshall talked her into singing with Raven. They both still think it was a good idea. It is amusing to hear Marshall grouse about what certain film critics said about the film in its original release, and explain why he filmed things certain ways. Both are very entertaining.
Video, Audio and Interface
The Princess Diaries 2 DVD looks great and sounds crisp with the Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound; you can hear every crackle of fire as Mia shoots her flaming coronation arrow into the hoop at the end of the film (don't ask.) The interface is very simple and extremely easy for younger viewers to navigate, with plenty of princess glitz and hip music to accompany the various menus.
The Final Evaluation
I still wish Princess Diaries 2 was a better film. If you have not yet seen the movie, I recommend you rent it first before deciding on purchasing the DVD to have forever and ever. If your children love Princess Mia as mine do, you will probably be purchasing this for Christmas. Go get that basket of laundry and watch it with them.
Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Lisa here.
Kevin Doc Krock is been a long-time animation buff and home theater fan. He's been following the rise of the DVD format in the home market since its introduction, and he hopes to help you make the most of your family's home theater viewing time and video collections.
You can contact Kevin here.
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