Monarchy is still the best system of government for the glittery realm of Chickflickia, offering more pomp, more romance, and more pretty horses than either democracy or fundamentalism can provide. That said, this unworthy serf humbly and non-Marxistly wonders what it offers today’s youngsters.
In the first ”Princess Diaries,” awkward San Francisco teen Mia Thermopolis (radiant regular-gal Anne Hathaway) discovered she was heir to the throne of Genovia, a fictitious European land-of-many-accents. We didn’t see much of Genovia itself, only its queen, Clarisse (Julie Andrews), in Frisco playing fairy godmother to Mia. This allowed director Garry Marshall to tease gentle, G-rated laughs out of the guiltiest American fantasy – royalty – without negotiating the details of modern princessery. (Recall, he avoided the messier details of another guilty American fantasy in ”Pretty Woman.”) Not so this time.
In Princess Diaries 2: A Royal Engagement Mia, having graduated Princeton in poli sci, is now off to rule Euro Disney, er, Genovia. But not only must she win her people’s hearts (by displaying empathy for, yes, orphans), she must also marry, according to an antiquated law. ”So unfair!” she frets, echoing the frustrations of many young girls who…what? Have their own theme-park nations to play with? The film’s generic feminism pales beside its bloated sense of privilege, only underlined by a nonstop cabaret of sideshow acts. Speaking of which: Who decided to drop a beat behind Andrews’ corny-but-touching vocal number? Off with his/her head!