No chemistry in ‘Prince & Me’

    With “The Prince & Me,” director Martha Coolidge brings yet another mediocre adaptation of the Cinderella story to the screen. The only good thing about the film is that it automatically warns you about what is to come.

    From the outset it is perfectly structured as a typical romantic comedy. We are introduced to the responsible college girl, who knows exactly what she wants to do with her life and who, like a robot, is solely concerned with her studies, and to the boisterous, spoiled prince who is only interested in frolicking with girls. The cards are laid out, and all the audience has to do is wait for the destined pair to meet, hate each other for a while and then fall madly in love, because, after all, opposites attract.

    In this case, the wooer is Edward (Luke Mably), the prince of Denmark, and the affected maiden is Paige Morgan (Julia Stiles) from Wisconsin. The two cuddle and display a bit of sexual desire, though their relationship cannot be described as one filled with intense chemistry. Mably is charming at times, but predominantly his character just glides submissively along, while Stiles seems essentially to be playing herself—well, except for the Shakespeare thing. The director probably included Paige’s adamant declarations about her lack of appreciation for the playwright to convince audiences that Stiles is not playing her predictable Shakespeare-friendly role.

    Yet even her uninteresting, flat character does not come close to reaching the level of irritation attained by her horrendous, unstylish dark brown bob. Stiles’ hair makes you wonder if it was designed by the same person who came up with Julia Robert’s dreadful look for “Full Frontal.” At the same time, the level of the distraction attained by the Stiles’ coiffure, although annoying, is quite telling since this is the most interesting part of the film, by far. When the plot and acting come second to the actress’ hairdo this acts as a strong indicator of the film’s quality.

    As is typical of movies from this genre, unlikely circumstances bring the two protagonists together. Paige struggles through her last year of college in hopes of getting accepted into the doctorate program at Johns Hopkins University. Edward, on the other hand, decides to go on another rebellious trip away from his parents, and after seeing a “Girls Gone Wild” type video about college students in Wisconsin, he makes the state his destination. Of course the two bump into each other in class and at the bar where Paige works, and inevitably their personalities clash.

    However, things change once Mably is exposed to Paige’s life on her family farm and once she experiences life as a queen-to-be. For a second it even seems like the unthinkable will happen and the film will actually end in a … gulp … surprising, unorthodox way, but that is only a temporary glitch that is quickly corrected with a cliché conclusion.

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