The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement

Bomb Rating: 

If this fiasco finally sinks his career for good, here are some alternate careers Garry Marshall would be wise to avoid: secret agent; big game hunter; event planner specializing in surprise parties -- in other words, anything requiring the slightest bit of stealth or subtlety. On the other hand, Garry would likely be quite successful as a billboard designer, bullhorn prophet, or weatherman specializing in telling audiences -- sometimes years in advance -- exactly where and when it's going to rain.

I'd also like to suggest "pimp" as a possible career choice, since the young girls inspired by Marshall's 1990 masterwork "Pretty Woman" are likely now on the downside of their whoring careers and just beginning to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. "Inventor" is another possibility, specifically of a device that's inserted into a person's ear and used to suck out his or her brain.

Marshall's storytelling prowess wafts off the screen like stench from a sewage plant. In this sequel to "The Princess Diaries" -- in which homely Mia (Anne Hathaway) discovered she was the princess of Genovia (whose city center looks suspiciously like the back lot at Disney) and immediately got a makeover -- Mia discovers that unless she gets married, Genovian law prevents her from ascending to the throne, currently held by her grandmother, Clarisse Renaldi (Julie Andrews).

Submitting to an arranged marriage is bad enough, but added to Mia's potential problems is opposition from Viscount Mabrey (John Rhys-Davies), who threatens to bludgeon her with the political ax of his nephew, Nicholas (Chris Pine), who he claims is the rightful heir to the throne.

Marshall is the kind of director who gets Nicholas and Mia dancing early in the film then cuts away to a group of Mia's friends emitting an envious "Ahhh..." as though somebody had put a vacuum in reverse. Suddenly, the plot structure of the film reveals itself like a crazed monk running up and down the aisle banging a gong. We're also forced to contemplate whether Nicholas's hairdo will transform into an actual mullet or simply walk the fence in hair purgatory.

Marshall's "ahh" moment is merely one of the many vomit-inducing scenarios in this film. Others include any scene featuring Mia's friend, Lilly (Heather Matarazzo). Matarazzo may have been a revelation in "Welcome to the Dollhouse" many years ago, but an acting class for her rates highly on my "Save the Planet" list. Then there's the moment when Julie Andrews needs some help being hip. Mia quickly calls on the one black girl in the whole cast to help her grandmother sing and dance to music with a beat. I'm surprised Marshall didn't have her throw in some basketball lessons for good measure.

Dear Diary: Please do something about Garry Marshall, and quick.

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