[MOVIE REVIEW]Rust Tarnishes a Royal Crown

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[MOVIE REVIEW]Rust Tarnishes a Royal Crown

It's natural for reality-weary people to dream about getting something unattainable. They see similar wishes come true in movies, mostly Hollywood fare. The most typical formula for fiction like this? One day, out of nowhere, you're told you are a princess. Of course, cliches like that sell tickets, so the movie companies will keep churning them out. Disney's latest dream-come-true is "The Princess Diaries," to be released Friday in Korea. The heroes in these types of feel-good movies don't have to be stellar actors - they just need to look amazed when they hear the unbelievable news, bewildered and depressed when everything changes and finally brave enough to bear the great responsibility ahead. The princess in "Diaries," played by Anne Hathaway, looks dazzling but displays little acting prowess as the high school student Mia, 15, living with her artist mother in Manhattan.

Predictably, Mia starts off as an ugly duckling - frizzy and disheveled hair, dowdy, thick glasses and clumsy. Then there comes the turning point. Mia is told that she is the sole heir to the throne of "Genovia," and needs to decide by her 16th birthday whether to become the country's ruler.

Suddenly, her manners and looks gleam and she becomes the center of attention. But of course all is not peachy as a royal parvenu; she feels something missing, like old friendships. For suspense's sake, her decision is put off until the very last minute.

One nice surprise in this film is Julie Andrews starring as the queen of Genovia, or Mia's grandmother. Still elegant as ever, Andrews doesn't attempt a song, and it's doubtful that making this movie was one of her favorite things.

All in all, the film is a series of scenes designed to amuse that end up awkward, forced and overspiced with tired dialogue. Also, the characters seem too sure of Mia's princess-worthiness when all she does is mess things up. But the biggest flaw overlooked by director Gary Marshall, who did 1990's "Pretty Woman," is that Hathaway manages to look great, even as an ugly duckling.

With its wrong-headed implication that beauty is only skin-deep, "The Princess Diaries" misses the mark. Even for adults who can discern unattainable dreams from reality, a much better ticket is "Bridget Jones's Diary." Though "Bridget" is fun and often hilarious, "Princess" is not much more than a boring, misguided fantasy.

by Chun Su-jin

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