A Well Done Modern Fairy Tale
Lonnie E. Holder | Columbus, Indiana, United States | 08/31/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"My daughter and my wife forced me to watch this movie. Truthfully, I actually did want to watch it because I thought it might be funny and it looked similar to "The Princess Diaries," which I also enjoyed. I was pleased that the movie turned out to be watchable and fun.
Daphne Reynolds is a young woman in New York who yearns to know her father. As she grows up, she becomes more and more distressed by the possibility that she will never have a chance to know her father. After watching a father-daughter dance at a wedding one day, she decides it is time to act. Off she goes to find him.
Daphne was the result of a romance between her free-spirited mother, Libby Reynolds (Kelly Preston), and Henry Dashwood (Colin Firth), who once was as free-spirited as Libby, but ultimately succumbed to the prim and proper expectations of the British upper class. Libby was left behind. Unbeknownst to Henry, he left Libby with a gift: Daphne. In case you were wondering, Libby and Henry were legally married in Morocco, though various characters attempt to obscure the legality of that marriage.
Daphne has entered the scene at a very critical point in Henry Dashwood's life. He has given up his hereditary position in the House of Lords to run for elected office. Most especially interested in his success are Alistair Payne (Jonathan Pryce), Glynnis Payne, his fiance, and Clarissa Payne. Naturally all three of these characters want what is best for them and not what is best for Henry. Dahne's free-wheeling ways do not sit well with any of these three characters and they impress upon Henry that to win the election he needs to bring Daphne back under control.
Daphne falls to the pressure of being the daughter of British royalty and becomes the beautiful, dutiful daughter, and adopts a type-B personality demeanor. We all know that Daphne's irrepressible energy and type-A personality will have to win out; remaining the meek, dutiful daughter is not her path.
As with a recent, similar movie, "The Princess Diaries," this movie has a fair amount of predictability, cliche and stereotype. However, as with the earlier movie, this movie too is a winner. The real success in this case is from Amanda Bynes and her interaction with Colin Firth. Colin sees in Amanda the person he truly is, and he sees that he similarly stifled his true character to fit into an expected mold. Amanda has virtually no interest in Colin's position or wealth. She is who she is; her real goal has always been to gain a father, not money or status.
We love Daphne because she is a bit eccentric, but she is all-American, and engagingly normal. We find by the end of the movie that being pretentious should not be a cover for whom or what we want to be. Sure, the plot is contrived, but who cares? It's way too much fun to worry about such trivialities. Enjoy!