Coming-of-Age Comedy. Daphne (Amanda Bynes), a spirited young American girl, travels to London in search of her long-lost father (Colin Firth), an influential aristocratic politician. As Daphne attempts to prove that love ... more »can conquer all, her impulsive behavior creates an uproar in high society, where her unique style threatens to undermine the relationship she has waited her whole life to experience.« less
Great movie, makes ya just feel good after watching it.
Janet L. from ANTIOCH, TN Reviewed on 1/23/2010...
Amanda Bynes (Big Fat Liar, The Amanda Show) stars as Daphne, an irrespressible American teen who impulsively jets over "the pond" to meet the aristocratic father (Colin Firth of Bridget Jones's Diary) she never knew. Determined to fit into dad's world, Daphne stifles her vibrant personality to be the perfect debutante while plunging into a whirl of garden parties, fashion shows, and more. Can good intentions and proper etiquette conquer all? Not if that means Daphne must also abandon who she really is. She's going to remain true to herself. And she's doing it with the smarts and courage every girl wants to see. You go, girl.
Predictable from start to finish but still pretty enjoyable
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 09/29/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
""What a Girl Wants" is supposedly a remake of 1958's "The Reluctant Debutante," although really the only thing in common is the idea of a young American girl (Sandra Dee) having to enter prim, proper, and priggish British society. Besides, most teenagers will be convinced "What a Girl Wants" is ripping off "The Princess Diaries." Anyhow for this 2003 film there are some additional complications. Once upon a time dashing Englishman Henry Dashwood (Colin Firth) hooked up with American hippie Libby Reynolds (Kelly Preston). While the legitimacy of their Moroccan marriage is in doubt there are two things we do know. First, that Henry's family found a way to send the American misfit packing. Second, after her return to the States Libby gave birth to a daughter, Daphne, who grows up to be Amanda Bynes. Of course Henry does not know about Daphne. Of course Daphne manages to leave her apartment over the Chinese restaurant and get to England where she is able to surprise her father. Of course Henry is about to marry a snobbish Englishwoman (Anna Chancellor) who has an equally ambitious and even more conceited daughter (Christina Cole) and neither of them can stomach Daphne's surprise arrival. Actually, there is pretty much nothing in this film that is not a surprise, which is really something we should have known going into this one. If Daphne has been dreaming all of her live of a father-daughter dance at a formal occasion then you can take a wild guess at to which scene in "What a Girl Wants" is supposed to make you cry. These stories are all pretty much totally predictable. But Kenneth Burke defined "form" as the creation of an appetite in the mind of an auditor and the satisfying of that appetite, which explains why this film is enjoyable for its targeted age and gender group (i.e., teenage girls for already adore Amanda from Nickelodeon). Beyond that there is the charm evidenced by daughter and father in this film. Bynes gets to have scenes where she is sassy and those where she gets to play dress up in a big way, while Firth gets to play a most reasonable British politician who has an inner free spirit just waiting to break out and start dancing in front of a mirror. There are some funny moments, usually as the expense of Daphne's father's future daughter-in-law, which usually involve putting some life into a series of stuffy British affairs. Then there is Amanda's newly discovered grandmother who explains, "No hugging, dear, I'm British." It is clear the old lady is one of the few people in the film with her heart and her brains both in the right place and you wonder why she does not cut through all the nonsense and stop everyone from delaying the inevitable. But "What a Girl Wants" knows not only how this story is supposed to be told but exactly what its true source is when Daphne tells her nemesis: "My evil step sister, you've seen Cinderella, right? Let me clue you in. I win."Which, of course, she does."
Great movie and DVD, Beware of error in Amazon listing
Darren Harrison | Washington D.C. | 05/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Among the current crop of female child actresses already or about to turn into hot properties for their impressive talent and major sex symbols for their knock-out looks is Amanda Bynes. Its an impressive class that includes the names Keira Knightley, Lindsay Lohan, Hilary Duff and Kristen Bell. But Bynes is one actress who has already reached television stardom through her shows "The Amanda Show" and "What I Like About You" and at the age of 16 she traveled to Europe to appear in a movie appropriately titled "American Girl." Before it was released (in early 2003) its title had been changed to "What a Girl Wants" and I sat there in a movie theater knowing little about it. I knew it had been filmed in my home country and starred Colin Firth who had been so good in "Bridget Jones' Diary," I came away impressed by the comic timing and the looks of an actress that would obviously in years-to-come set movie screens on fire. "What a Girl Wants" is at its heart a story about a girl searching to find herself. Bynes plays Daphne Reynolds and her mother Libby is played by Mrs. John Travolta (Kelly Preston). The two live in New York City and Daphne spends her time helping out at weddings where her mother is a singer and longing to know a father she has never met. It is observing the father-daughter dance at one of these weddings (where the filmakers used real fathers and daughters) that our hearts go out to Daphne and she determines a drastic plan of action - traveling to London and confronting her absent father. The movie has it all - heart, laughter, suspense, romance. Its culture clash theme has been done before and better (Crocodile Dundee for example) but we have so much emotion invested in Daphne's plight that we cannot help but become engrossed in this movie. Jonathon Pryce proves that his villainous turn in "Tomorrow Never Dies" was no fluke by pulling out a great performance here as the political advisor of Daphne's father (Firth). Thing is, Firth's character -Henry - is running for political office and Pryce sees Daphne as a liability to his boss' career and her presence an obstacle to his becoming father-in-law to the wealthy and politically powerful Henry. This DVD has an impressive number of special features, the crown jewels of which are the two scene specific audio commentaries, one by Bynes and the second by the director and two writers. I Liked how the subtitles automatically come up when commentaries are playing. If you have only seen it once it helps keep track of where you are in movie. Light, fluffy, exuberant Amanda Bynes chats about working with the other actors, and how intimidated she was by some of the people she worked with. In her commentary she mentions how the weather was when a scene was shot - it was hot, hunid, raining etc Obviously Bynes has a great deal of respect for Firth and Preston and almost inevitably Bynes spends a lot of time talking about clothes - big boots when hopping over the wall, commenting on how ugly the dress to a ball is etc. Bynes literally coos over emotional moments. Hers is a fun commentary, but there are some gaps. I liked the recounting of anecdotal moments such as her account of being mobbed by fans on bridge that crew could not get permission to close for shooting. On the second commentary director Dennie Gordon joined by the two writers Jenny Bicks and Elizabeth Chandler (the Amazon listing is incorrect in identifying them as actors). As one might expect this is more technical in details and as such serves as a nice contrast to Bynes solo track. The writers discuss such matters as how long they worked on it, the original inspiration and discuss different titles (the original title "American Girl" is mentioned on both tracks). The director talks about how wonderful the actors are and seems particularly pleased with Bynes performance. Overall this is a very enjoyable family film and a great DVD package."
Completely dumb. Completely Fun
Margaret P. Quigley | Morro Bay, CA United States | 09/09/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"My friends saw the coming attractions for this movie a number of months ago. When they saw that it starred Colin Firth, they all shouted at the screen, "What Peggy Wants." I'm a confirmed firth-a-holic. But, I thought this movie might be another "Thousand Acres" and so waited til it came out on DVD to see it.This is not great art or even great cinema. But, hell, it's a lot of fun! And many times that's what I crave from a movie.The true acting comes from Mr. Firth who is perfectly cast as the English gentleman who would be PM -- and looks a bit like Tony Blair to boot.His wild past with an American rock singer comes to an end that is full of deception. And 17 years later his daughter from that past comes to find her dad.Amanda Bynes is cute. She doesn't really need to act. Still, the on screen chemistry between she and Firth brings out some potentially amazing talent in this adorable young lady.There's a lot of good humor and the music ain't bad either.The scene where Firth dons leather pants and dances in front of the mirror is imspired.For trivia buffs -- Anna Chancelor plays Mr. Firth's fiancee who is in it for the political prestige. Some may recognize her as the unmarried Miss Bingley from the A&E/BBC Pride and Prejudice. She's a great character actress. She doesn't get him in this story, either.And -- was it my imagination that her stuck up daughter (Clarissa) bears such a striking resemblance to Reese Witherspoon? Reese played Firth's ward in The Importance of Being Earnest.Ok. Final thoughts. It's a fun movie. As with Bridget Jones's Diary -- it's also a feel good movie -- and those are the ones I tend to watch again and again. Granted: Bridget Jones is an example of great film as well as a fun movie. Still, with Colin Firth in What a Girl Wants -- so much the better."
A movie without violence, bad language, or bare everything??
Margaret P. Quigley | 08/25/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Yes this is a predictable, happily ever after film. It is nothing like the awful Princess Diaries (which this film has been compared). Because of this comnparison I didn't bother seeing "What a girl Wants" in the theater. I am pleased to say that this is one of those films which is just fun to watch. It wasn't meant to change the world but is entertainment that the entire family can see together. Amanda Byrnes and Colin Firth are wonderful together as father and daughter. Kelly Preston is beautiful in the part of Daphne's mother. In my opinion this film is more like a cross between: Cinderella (because of the future evil step-sister), Snow White (because Amanda finds her prince), and Parent Trap (because....can't say because that would be giving the end away)."
Great chick (kid) flick!
Lawrance M. Bernabo | 03/31/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I took two nieces to the sneak peak on Saturday and we all loved it. It's a twist on the Cinderella story, with the girl, Daphne, inviting herself to the ball, in this case, looking for her father then being invited into his life, including a debutante ball. The girls loved it because Daphne never lost her cool even when another girl was trying to shoot her down. I went for Colin Firth and was delighted to see classic Colin with new moves - the dance-in-the-mirror, for one. The girls are going back next weekend with pals, and we will definitely be buying the DVD.
(only 4 stars out of 5 because some parts were predictable - but good.)"