Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

The Princess Diaries - Special Edition

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
8 out of 10
Extras Rating:
8 out of 10
Movie Details:
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Rating: G

Starring:
Julie Andrews as Clarisse Renaldi
Anne Hathaway as Mia Thermopolis
Hector Elizondo as Joe
Heather Matarazzo as Lilly Moscovitz
Mandy Moore as Lana Thomas
Caroline Goodall as Helen Thermopolis
Robert Schwartzman as Michael Moscovitz
Erik von Detten as Josh Bryant
Patrick Flueger as Jeremiah Hart
Sean O'Bryan as Mr. O'Connell
Sandra Oh as Vice Principal Gupta
Kathleen Marshall as Charlotte
Mindy Burbano as Gym Teacher Ms. Harbula
Kim Leigh as Music Teacher Wells
Beth Anne Garrison as Cheerleader Anna

Special Features:
Commentary by actresses Julie Andrews and Anne Hathaway

Commentary by director Garry Marshall

8 deleted scenes with commentary

"A New Princess" Behind-The-Scenes Featurette

Music videos

CD-ROM: Printable room accessories

New to this edition:

Widescreen and full screen presentations

Bloopers and Outtakes

Sneak Peek of The Princess Diaries 2

"Livin' Like a Princess" featurette

Photo gallery and more

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1) – Enhanced for 16x9 Televisions
Fullscreen (1.33:1)
Dolby 5.1 Digital Surround Sound
THX Certified
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 115 Minutes

Synopsis:
The Princess Diaries was originally released in 2001. This is the Special Edition DVD. Here's the official synopsis of the film:

"Shy San Francisco teenager Mia Thermopolis (Hathaway) is thrown for a loop when, from out of the blue, she learns the astonishing news that she's a real-life princess! As the heir apparent to the crown of the small European principality of Genovia, Mia begins a comical journey toward the throne when her strict and formidable grandmother, Queen Clarisse Renaldi (Andrews), shows up to give her "princess lessons." The two instantly clash -- Mia has no intention of leaving her normal life to become the ruler of a far-off country, while her grandmother insists it is her duty. Clarisse is determined to do a complete makeover of this sparkling -- if not polished -- diamond in the rough so that she can take her rightful place in the royal line of succession. Now the reluctant princess must make the biggest decision of her life -- whether to remain with her family and explore a budding romance with her best friend's brother Michael (Schwartzman), or to leave everything behind to accept the royal responsibilities that come with being the Princess of Genovia."

The Princess Diaries is rated G.

The Movie:
When this film came out in 2001, I have to say I wasn't the first one in line to see it. It had "chick flick" written all over it and I really wasn't interested. However, I bought it for my wife, watched it, and ended up enjoying it. I shouldn't be surprised I liked it, though. I'm a fan of the main actors, I generally like Garry Marshall's films, and it was a lighthearted comedy. Put it all together and ended up being not only entertaining for me, but for a wide range of ages and audiences.

This was the first film for Anne Hathaway, Disney's new breakout star. I think she's likable because she's accessible to all audiences. Hathaway can convincingly go from geek to hot without problem. She also handles the comedy well. At the beginning of the film, she's shown as the Ugly Duckling. Her look and mannerisms are so awkward and geeky that you can't help but laugh (and at the same time remember how you were too back in high school). Her bad manners, posture, and language are made even funnier thanks to Julie Andrews’ shock and dismay.

Andrews was brought in to add a touch of class to the production and she does that well. (Everyone conveniently forgets her role in S.O.B. which is probably for the best.) I can't think of anyone better to play the queen of an imaginary country. When she comes on board the film turns into a version of My Fair Lady. Andrews has great chemistry with Hathaway and the two end up being a great comedy duo.

The rest of the supporting cast is excellent. This happens to be one of Mandy Moore's earliest films and she ends up playing one of the bad girls. Hector Elizondo is also great as Joe, the queen's bodyguard. Finally, Heather Matarazzo is appropriately geeky as Lilly Moscovitz, Mia's best friend.

Throw in some decent pop music, fun comedy gags, and the excellent cast and you have a light comedy for all ages that is worthy of a sequel.

The Extras:
This DVD has a few more extras that the earlier edition of the movie. Do they make it worth buying if you have the other edition? I guess that depends on how big of a Princess Diaries fan you are. Besides getting both widescreen and fullscreen versions of the film, you'll get these bonus features and more:

Commentary by actresses Julie Andrews and Anne Hathaway – This is actually a pretty good commentary. Andrews and Hathaway have tea while doing their discussion. They both have interesting stories from the set and insights into the characters. Andrews, ever the good hostess, asks questions along the way that keeps the dialogue going. Overall, it's worth listening to.

Commentary by director Garry Marshall – Marshall also has a lot of trivia to offer about the film. However, he delivers the commentary as if he's talking to kids. This is a Disney film aimed at kids, so I guess it's appropriate.

8 deleted scenes with optional commentary – Garry Marshall introduces each of these deleted scenes. His introductions aren't optional, so they last a little longer than you might otherwise like. Some of the scenes are longer than others. One features Mia and her geeky boy friend at dinner together. Another scene has the boy letting Mia know he thinks it's cool that she's a princess. Another has Mia asking the queen what her nickname was in school while another has Mandy Moore getting her comeuppance in a slightly different way. One lame scene shows a drunk man at a party slicing a boiled egg with a harp (a gag Marshall was eager to add in the film). Marshall explains why they were all deleted.

Music videos – There are two music videos included here. The first is "Miracles Happen" by Myra. It's your typical generic teen pop music song that is utterly forgettable. The video features the teens dancing in a mall and along with clips from the film. The second video is by Krystal and is called "SuperGirl". (Is this a copyright infringement?) It, too, is a generic pop song, but the video is unique in that it features Anne Hathaway and other Princess Diaries cast members dancing and looking happy. This helps raise the quality of the video a bit.

Bloopers and Outtakes – This was quite a long blooper reel, but it was fun. It's your typical flubbed lines, tripping actors, etc. It's a fun feature.

Sneek Peek of The Princess Diaries 2 – This sneak preview of The Princess Diaries 2 is hosted by Andrews and Hathaway. There's a ton of behind the scenes footage, a little bit of final footage, and interviews with the cast and crew. If you've been eagerly anticipating the sequel, then this is definitely worth checking out.

"Livin' Like a Princess" featurette – This feature throws out facts about what it was like to be a real life princess in the past. They talk about their education, social rules, etc. It's not the best feature on the DVD, but it is interesting history.

"A New Princess" Behind-The-Scenes Featurette – This is a 20 minute or so feature on the making of the movie. It is hosted by Anne Hathaway and it features interviews with the cast and crew. They talk to each of the actors individually and highlight their characters and unique talents. They also show what life was like behind the scenes. Marshall is shown hosting a pumpkin carving contest, birthdays, and a Thanksgiving Day parade. Whitney Houston (one of the producers) and Julie Andrews are even shown singing Happy Birthday to Marshall. Overall it's a fun and informative look at the making of the film.

The Bottom Line:
This is a fun comedy for both kids and adults. It's a worthy addition to your DVD collection if it's not already there.

Order this DVD @ Amazon

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