The Princess Diaries 2: The Royal Engagement
Disney banks on sequel and tea to woo summer crowds
Thursday, August 12, 2004
by Lisa Perkis, staff writer
My daughters have been waiting anxiously for the sequel to the The
Princess Diaries. I was also looking forward to the film because the
first movie was charming and fun and one of those rare movies that kids
and adults could enjoy together. So we all had high hopes heading up to
Hollywood to see The Princess Diaries 2: The Royal Engagement and
attend the Princess Tea after the screening.
The Princess Diaries 2 picks up five years later, opening with
Princess Mia (Anne Hathaway) graduating from college and preparing to
assume the throne of the fictional country of Genovia. A wrench is thrown
into the proceedings by the Genovian Parliament, which decides to adhere
to a centuries-old law that state that a princess must be married in order
to become queen. If that plot point seem a bit
remember that in context it makes more sense than them saying, We
have a centuries-old law that any film that grosses $100 million must
be followed by a sequel.
With 30 days to find a groom, Mia faces the prospect of an arranged marriage.
Two suitors, Andrew (Callum Blue) and Nicholas (Chris Pine), pique Mia’s
interest, and form the main conflict of the film.
Anne Hathaway and Chris Pine. Photo credit: Ron Batzdorf, SMPSP. ©
Buena Vista Pictures.
Director Gary Marshall described the plot in a press release this way:
She is fond of one of these boys; one of them could help her
become the queen and help her run the country, while the other is an
adversary who is trying to take over her job.
The two boys are cute but a bit bland. But the real sparks start flying
when villain Viscount Mabrey (John Rhys-Davies) shows up. He's easily
the most entertaining character in the film, if for no other reason thanhaving
played Gimli the dwarf in The Lord of the Rings trilogyyou
expect him to pick up an ax and start swinging it when he's really angry
at Queen Clarisse (Julie Andrews). Just the slight possibility of that
kept things interesting.
Another character not found in the first film is Princess Asana, played
by Disney Channel mainstay Raven. The only reason she is in the film,
it seems, is to hawk her singing career. She sings a little song with
Julie Andrews (more on that later) and has a song in the credits; her
total screen time is under 10 minutes, thank goodness.
Julie Andrews and Raven. Photo credit: Ron Batzdorf, SMPSP. © Buena
Yes, Julie Andrews does sing. Unfortunately, the song itself is incredibly
cringe-worthy. Julie Andrews attempting hip-hop with Raven
hard to look at the screen while it's happening.
A big to-do was made of the fact that Andrews sings in the film. She
also sang in the made-for-TV movie Eloise at the Plaza two years
ago, but in the raucous cockney character of Nanny. Her voice in the The
Princess Diaries 2 is more in keeping with an appropriately aged Mary
Poppins. My girls declared it their favorite song in the movie, so it
just goes to show you that the makers of this film really know their target
Overall, our reactions to The Princess Diaries 2 were mixed. It
lacked the charm and appeal of the first movie. Missing were some of the
more engaging characters from the previous film, like Mia's first boyfriend
Michael (Robert Schwartzman) and her nasty school mate Lana (Mandy Moore.)
Additionally, most of the characters carried over to the sequel have little
to do besides watch Mia bounce between her two suitors. Her best friend
Lily (Heather Matarazzo), who almost steals the first film, is relegated
to patting Mia on the back and entertaining whichever suitor is not with
Callum Blue and Anne Hathaway. Photo credit: Ron Batzdorf, SMPSP. ©
Buena Vista Pictures.
It feels curmudgeonly to criticize the film because my daughters, ages
7 and 10, loved it. They declared it even better than the first
movie and better than Ella Enchanted When I tried
to determine why, my youngest gave a long explanation about how it was
funny when the guards got hit by the flying mattresses and fell down,
and when the cat got chased around by the palace poodle. In other words,
the slapstick moments really spoke to her.
My older daughter had a harder time finding concrete reasons to explain
why she liked the movie. She finally said, I guess it was because
I've gotten tired of watching the first Princess Diaries all the
time. This was all brand new. They enjoyed seeing the characters,
whom they are so familiar with from constant DVD watching, in new situations.
It also explains, in a way, the bewildering success of the direct-to-video
sequels drawn from classic Disney films. Children like to see familiar,
beloved characters in new stories and situations. That's why The Princess
Diaries 2: The Royal Engagement will be a great success; not because
it's groundbreaking cinema, but because kids are going to love it.
Julie Andrews and Anne Hathaway. Photo credit: Ron Batzdorf, SMPSP. ©
Buena Vista Pictures.
And even though parents might roll their eyes a bit, they should remember
that it could be worse: It could have been rated PG-13. A big thank you
to Disney for not throwing in some gratuitous language or sex just to
make it more edgy. Even worse; it could have been Cinderella
IV: The Royal Midlife Crisis. Count your blessings where you can find
them. Go. Take the kids, and feel like a good parent.
Disney Princess Tea
As they did after the first engagement of The Princess Diaries
and Freaky Friday at the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood, Disney
is putting on a princess tea. The Disney Princess Tea is held in the top
floor of the Kodak complex across the street from the El Capplenty
of ushers are on hand to help guide tea goers to the large banquet area
across the street from the theatre.
No chance in getting lost on the way to the Princess Tea; plenty of ushers
are on hand to guide guests. Photo by Lisa Perkis.
Once we arrived at the banquet room, we were escorted to our table. The
tables seat 10, and if you do not have enough in your party to fill a
table, you will be seated with another party. The tables are lovely, with
fresh flower centerpieces and fresh white linens. Each place setting has
party favors like See's Candy and Bonnie Bell lip gloss.
The tea menu contains a variety of scones, sandwiches, pastries and fresh
fruit salad. Even my picky younger daughter found something to nibble
on. The wait staff is plentiful and wonderfully attentive. The girls had
fun picking out their own personal tea bag from the wooden tea box and
stirring lumps of sugar into their cup more than actually drinking the
Everything looks almost too pretty to eat. Photo by Lisa Perkis.
As in previous teas hosted by Disney, there are princesses galore to
greet guests. A change from the last tea we attended was the addition
of Ariel to the princess lineup. At first I thought they were going to
wheel her around the tearoom a la Ariel's Grotto (a restaurant in Disney's
California Adventure), but she stayed stationary on her large rock and
bid the little guests to come to her. The rest of the princesses circled
the tables to meet and greet the participants.
The princesses await their guests for tea. Photo by Lisa Perkis
Several glass cases with costumes from the film were situated around
the tearoom, and it was fun to get a close-up view of the lovely gowns
that we just saw up on the screen.
A close-up view of the gowns worn in the film. Photo by Lisa Perkis.
The biggest hit of the tea for the young ladies was the dress-up stations
located in several areas of the banquet room. In past teas, princess costumes
were available for children to pose in. This time, fantastic miniature
wedding dresses, tiaras and bridal veils supplied from a bridal gown chain
were available, with little sitting areas for salivating parents to direct
their children to and snap pictures. The staff working at each dress-up
station wisely passed out baby wipes to clean up children sticky from
jams and scones before the lovely dresses were modeled.
Staff stationed at each dress-up area help the little girls do up all
those buttons. Photo by Lisa Perkis
The boys were not left out, either. Swords, helmets and shields were
available at each dress-up station for the young princes to pose with
as well. Not as ultra-cool as the gowns, but hey, at least they tried.
My girls wanted to get their hands on the costume jewelry and dresses
so badly that it was hard to concentrate on the tea. We finally got up
mid-meal and went to the dress-up area.
And the finished product
two little princesses. Photo by Lisa Perkis
General admission prices for the movie at El Capitan plus the Disney
Princess Tea are $26 per person (ages 3 and up). VIP admission, which
includes popcorn, soft drink and a reserved seat plus admission to the
tea, is $37 per person. The general admission price seems the far better
deal. Eleven extra dollars just for popcorn, soda and a center seat just
doesn't seem worth the money to me. Arrive a few minutes early and get
a seat right next to the reserved area, and share a box of popcorn.
Is the general price worth it? For a special treat for some lucky little
girls (or boys), I would say yes. We had a wonderful, memorable afternoon,
took lots of pictures with princesses and even dressed up like a princess.
Both my girls gave me a big hug and thank you at the end of
Worth it? Oh yes.
Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Lisa here.
The Princess Diaries: The Royal Engagement is
a Buena Vista Pictures release.
Wide theatrical release: Wednesday, August 11, 2004.
Directed by Garry Marshall.
Screenplay by Shonda Rhimes.
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Julie Andrews, Hector Elizondo,
Running time: 115 minutes.
Lisa's rating: 7 out of 10
Her daughters' ratings: 9 out of 10
Alex Stroup is a degreed librarian with an undergraduate degree in history. An avid reader, movie buff, and devoted information junkie, Alex currently lives and works in the Northern California Bay Area. Alex is also the CEO of MousePlanet.
Click here to contact Alex.