It’s been a little while (a whole week, probably) since I did a really wordy ramble without inserting some social media posts in between paragraphs, hasn’t it?
Ramble of the Day
A very simple concept upon which to make a film is to take a protagonist and stick said protagonist in a situation that this person is seemingly completely unsuited for. You watch this person struggle with something that they’re designed to be poor at handling, and then, for the most part, they handle it and succeed. The message, in that case, is that one can achieve anything, but the film world has somewhat recently thrown us a sub-genre: people unexpectedly turning into royalty.
Frequently, the stories are centered around women, and Netflix might be starting to corner the market after making both A Christmas Prince and The Princess Switch. It honestly just feels a little bit like an extension of the recent real life version of the sub-genre that has Meghan Markle going from somewhat well-known American actress to famous member of the British royal family in a span of a couple of years, but we don’t have to talk about that right now. While there is much to explore in that department, I have a different point to make: The Princess Diaries is the best of this sub-genre.
It very obviously pre-dates Markle marrying into the royal family, and probably her entire acting career. Anne Hathaway’s Mia also doesn’t marry into the family, but finds out she’s the daughter of a dead prince, which has happened to real people before in less extreme circumstances. The journey to her eventually succeeding is also pretty fun; the makeover scene is an enjoyable version of a pull-quote, but the whole journey in learning princess etiquette — and getting to know her grandmother, played by Julie Andrews — is delightful. The film gets bonus points for allowing Mia to stay true to who she is at the end despite all of the learning and changing she’s had to do. (The second film is an extension of this basic idea, but with a slight tone of challenging tradition.)
What is best about The Princess Diaries, though, is that it doesn’t feel particularly contrived. Despite any real life examples, the idea of plucking a random — particularly American — person out of a cinematically ordinary existence and thrusting this person into royalty is no easy sell. In the example of the Netflix films, and particularly A Christmas Prince, it all feels like an inauthentic way of interpreting what we all hear about how royals live, including the dramatic bits. Of course what’s-her-name has to deal with a snooty person who’s worked for the family her whole life. That same of course shows up when Amber (I remembered her name) has supposedly high profile people planning the wedding and obsessing over her.
The Princess Diaries benefits from not trying to copy a model, but borrowing from an existing structure that we’re all very familiar with. One doesn’t have to be tapped in to the lives of royalty to understand completely the constructs of Mia’s world — being princess-like is something that she naturally has to be, and later, finding a husband is something that one could easily envision her needing to do based on the pressures of society.
They play with the wrinkles in predictable ways, particularly in the sequel, but the movies rely on a nice chemistry between Hathaway and Andrews. That’s also a fun way to twist the easy story of centering it around a romance, which is obviously a fine way to go about business, but obviously needs to be executed well to be truly special.
I’ve gone on long enough, so I’ll leave it there. I think you get the point, after all.
tl;dr: The Princess Diaries is the best of the “Suddenly Royal” sub-genre.
Links of the Day
The offices of Anderlecht and the Belgian FA have been raided by police in a money laundering investigation.
The FA will be offering non-alcoholic champagne to FA Cup winners in an effort to be more inclusive.
Stéphanie Frappart will become the first woman to referee a Ligue 1 match on Sunday, as she is scheduled to take charge of Amiens-Strasbourg.
Newcastle’s Miguel Almirón will miss the rest of the season with a hamstring injury.
Watford’s Ben Foster has suggested honorary president Elton John cancel a concert in Copenhagen in order to attend the FA Cup final against Manchester City.
Today’s longer read: Nick Moore on how members of the footballing world use WhatsApp for FourFourTwo