The Prince and Me (2004) — Julia Stiles mangles Shakespeare

“He was quoting Shakespeare like some duke, lord guy. I hate phonies like that.”

Lissa’s rating: Look, I like my chick flicks, okay?

Lissa’s review:The Prince and Me or Scooby Doo 2?”

That was the question our junior high youth group was faced with when we decided to do a movie tailgate. To some, it might seem like slow, agonizing death on the one hand and… well, slow, agonizing death on the other. Certainly it seemed that way for five junior high boys. But since 80% of the youth group and all three leaders were female, the poor guys got shanghaied into seeing The Prince and Me.

For the record, one of them got revenge by stealing my shoe.

I can say that, while three of the boys did leave the theater gagging and plotting their revenge, two of the boys survived and still speak to the rest of us. If you can get junior high boys to sit through a chick flick featuring Julia Stiles, you’ve got to be doing something right. The girls, of course, enjoyed it, with one major discussion point to be elaborated on later. Ditto on the leader.

The Prince and Me is, in some ways, standard teen fare. You have Julia Stiles. You have random hot love interest, who happens to be Edward, the Prince of Denmark. You have mistaken identities. (Hey, would you be able to recognize the Prince of Denmark? Yeah. Me neither.) You have transformations. Gags at the expense of the “help,” who in this case is Soren, Prince Edward’s bodyguard. But somewhere along the line, someone with an iota of intelligence got a hold of the script. That’s not supposed to happen in a movie like this.

Julia Stiles is Paige, a Wisconsin girl getting great grades in chemistry and (are you ready for this?) flunking Shakespeare. It is a testament to Ms. Stiles’ acting ability that she can manage confusion over lines in Othello, The Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet, and Romeo and Juliet (which I don’t think she’s done a version of) without cracking up. I was dying, although most of my junior high kids didn’t get what was so funny.

ANYWAY. Smart girl. Likes chemistry, hates Shakespeare. I like her already. Of course, she’s a control freak. Paige has every move of the next five years of her life mapped out. Sadly, I cannot identify with this, given that grad school was partly a way to procrastinate this real-life-thing. But I knew people like her, so I can definitely give some props to realistic characterization.

Paige meets up with “Eddie” (Luke Mably), who is, naturally, the prince of Denmark in disguise. And she hates him on sight. Surprise, surprise. To give Paige credit, I would too. The guy was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and acts it. And while I question WHY he decided to go to Wisconsin for college (and am wondering about the fact that this is the second movie I’ve seen in six months where someone from Europe thinks that Wisconsin girls are hot, wild, and willing to have sex with just about anyone), the character actually develops, and it’s relatively realistic. I like that.

What I really like about The Prince and Me, however, is that it’s not a transformation flick. Although Paige is swept off to the palace (much later than I expected, incidentally), her future mother-in-law doesn’t harp on her looks or manners. Paige doesn’t replace her glasses with contacts, change her style of dress much, or get a makeup lesson. Her hair does change slightly, but so would mine if I started going to an uber-expensive hairdresser all of a sudden. Hey, for that price, it had better! Paige doesn’t get a lot of lessons in elocution, or which fork is the salad fork, or anything like that. (And although the dressmaker bugs her about posture, the seamstress bugged me about posture too, when I was trying on my wedding dress. It IS a big deal in a strapless dress.)

Anyway, it was a sweet romance. And for anyone who’s ever had a roommate that’s been less than ideal, Eddie and Soran’s roommate will crack you up. I’m not sure Wisconsin Cheeseheads really do have tractor races, but it’s nice that they didn’t turn everyone from Paige’s hometown into inbred clods. Overall, it’s not bad. Not bad at all. Until the last two minutes. Obviously, major spoiler alert here. You have been warned.

Seriously. If you don’t want to know, stop reading now.

Okay. Now that that’s out of the way….

At the near-end of the movie, Paige decides she can’t give up her lifelong goals and dreams for love. She walks away from the relationship, leaving both herself and Eddie sad, but both changed in positive ways. It’s not the happiest ending in the world, but some relationships are based in fantasy, and the fact they end doesn’t undo the good they’ve done. I will always be grateful to two specific exes who, although the relationship didn’t work, they helped me become who I am today. I don’t know if I agree with Paige’s decision, but I don’t know that I don’t, either. Especially when you consider that this character is 21 or 22. That IS a young age to get married and undergo such a radical life shift as she would have experienced.

What bugged me was the tacked on bit at the end where Edward came back to her and said he’d wait for her to do all that she wanted to do. NOT because of Edward — I think that if you truly love someone, that you can wait for them. What bugged me was the tacked on feeling of it all. Like, “oh MAN, this did NOT go over with test audiences! Quick — put the happy ending on!” Well, that was my theory. One of the other youth group leader’s theories was “Set it up for The Prince and Me 2! Just in case this makes money!” I’m not sure which is right, but either one could be.

What I did really like about The Prince and Me is it’s a GREAT movie to take younger girls to go see. Not only because they will enjoy it, but my girls got a lot of good discussions about what love really is and how the movie should have ended. So often we think of “thinking movies” as movies that are serious and confusing, but this was a thinking movie for me (even if there was an excess of pink). Plus, let’s be honest. It’s really nice to have movies that actually encourage thought for the younger generation.

Although it didn’t get the greatest reviews, and the ending WAS totally tacked on, I suspect The Prince and Me will be finding its way into our collection. (Not by hubby’s choice, mind you!) Certainly better than being subjected to Scooby Doo 2!

Didja notice?

  • Julia Stiles flunking Shakespeare. Sorry, but that’s REALLY funny.
  • Don’t add acid too fast to your reaction.
  • Shouldn’t these people be working in fume hoods?
  • For all the work and hype, that dress is really pretty ugly.
  • Reference to “The Princess Diaries.”
  • Is it really THAT warm in Wisconsin in November? Somehow, I seriously doubt it!
  • There is no resemblance to the current Danish monarchal family. (Wow. I didn’t know monarchal was a word — I thought I was making it up.)

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