I've Been Watching #6

Sunday 10 August 2014

All films and no tv this week - who am I?! This week I've been reliving my youth and embracing my love for chick flicks - although one film in the above collage certainly didn't fit into that category as much as I had expected it to. So let's revisit my viewing material from the past week...

The Princess Diaries and The Princess Diaries 2 - Royal Engagement

I was worryingly excited when I realised that The Princess Diaries (one of my favourite childhood films) and the sequel are both on Netflix, - I had only ever seen the second film once, so I embraced the opportunity for a double bill. My memory did not serve me too well, however, as I seemed to think I hadn't particularly enjoyed the sequel - this time around I loved it.

There's something dangerous about watching your favourite childhood films after going years without seeing them, because while some live up to the fond memories, others let you down. The rose tinted glasses you have on when you remember your favourite kids show or movie can make watching them disappointing, because you're now watching them in a totally different context, and through adult eyes. Much to my relief, this was not one of those occasions! I totally related to Mia as a teen, being the shy, incapable of talking to the opposite sex type, and I think every little girl dreamed of having that princess makeover. When I was watching it, half way through I found myself thinking "is this a really terrible representation of growing up, telling a young girl that if she's a bit awkward and geeky, with tough to tame hair and glasses she's not good enough to be a princess?". But as it progressed, I remembered that the whole point of the film is that through this transitional period Mia learns that the most important thing is to be herself, an important life lesson for anyone. Also, it might just have the most perfect ending to a teen/preteen movie ever; the soundtrack, the dress, the ball, the kiss... perfection. I'm 25 and I can quite honestly say, I'd still kill for a night like that. Escapism at its best.

The second film was so much better than I had remembered! I also forgot that a very youthful Chris Pine starred opposite Anne Hathaway this time around. Mia's ready to take her place as queen of Genovia, but an outdated, sexist law that states a woman can only be crowned queen after she is married gets in the way. Cue the search for a husband and plans for an arranged marriage. As an avid fan of the books, I think the second film bothered me because they split Mia and Michael up, and at the time I was not okay with that. With some distance from the situation, however, I can appreciate that the film was a perfect example of what it is - a daft, romantic sequel to a story about a girl who grows up feeling like a nobody and discovers she's a princess. It's cute, it's funny and it passes a couple of hours quite nicely. Once again I was loving the music over the credits at the end, and horrified myself when I discovered that the track I was dancing around to was by none other than Lindsay Lohan - but I know you guys won't tell anyone...

Beauty and the Briefcase

Ohhh dear. I never thought there would be a romantic comedy that would defeat me - I constantly defend this genre, and I can usually sit through even the cheesiest, most over the top romcoms without wanting to switch them off, but this almost got the better of me! Beauty and the Briefcase (an ABC original movie which is now available on Netflix), stars Hilary Duff as Lane, a wannabe journalist looking for love and her dream job at Cosmo magazine amongst the buzz of New York. You'd think it was just like any other run of the mill romcom, right? Well, it is, except that it is really, really terrible. In terms of other movies, one I'd say it's most akin to is Confessions of a Shopaholic, except that I actually liked Confessions of a Shopaholic; Isla Fisher was likeable, and the story was daft but made sense. I hate saying this because much like The Princess Diaries, I actually only put this on because I liked Hilary Duff when I was a child, but I'd be lying if I say there weren't a myriad of things that bothered me about this film. The acting was poor, the structure was dreadful (more on that in a second) and do not even get me started about the bizarre sexism - a feminist critic would have a field day with this one. I lost count of the number of shots of Lane as the "only girl in an office full of men", who are leaning out of their cubicles with their tongues hanging out of their mouths, getting distracted from their important, businessman work by her tight skirt, while the two or three other women in the office might as well be wearing bin bags. Because, y'know, if you're a woman in the business world you're probably uptight, unfashionable and unfanciable.

In order to avoid spoilers, I won't bother with specifics when it comes to structure, but all I'll say is that for a film that lasts an hour and twenty five minutes, this one wasted a disproportionate amount of time on the wrong storyline. Most films have a beginning, a middle and an end, and this one seemed to have an incredibly long middle, with a rushed end tagged on without much thought having been given to it. But that's just my opinion, I'm sure there are plenty of people who did enjoy it, so if you love a cheesy romcom, it's always worth watching the first ten minutes to see what you think!

Thanks for Sharing

And the surprise of the year goes to... Thanks for Sharing! This film genuinely surprised and impressed me. I went in with an already formed opinion, which is never the way to go! I knew it was a film in which Mark Ruffalo plays a recovering sex addict named Adam - from The Princess Diaries to this, talk about genre hopping - and I knew that Pink was in it. I had decided it would be one of those comedies that uses something controversial (sex addiction, in this case), to make people talk about it, and it would probably end up with a couple of couples falling in love, and a few awkward laughs at the expense of Adam et als' "lack of control". It really wasn't. It kind of reminded me of Friends with Kids - one of those films you go in expecting to spend two hours laughing at, but in fact find that it has a much darker undertone than you were expecting. I doubt it's going to be nominated for an Oscar any time soon, but I actually feel like this did a good job of highlighting the genuine, daily struggle of an addict, whatever they're addicted to. There are some pretty disturbing moments in it - again, I want to leave this spoiler free, but if you've seen it I'm sure you know what scene I'm referring to! I was also pretty impressed with Pink/Alecia Moore. While she doesn't get a huge amount of screen time, her very first scene was acted really, really nicely. I'm giving this one a big thumbs up as something that genuinely surprised me, and it's definitely something to check out. I wasn't really a fan of Gwyneth Paltrow's character, which was a pity because it put a bit of a dampener on that particular storyline for me, but otherwise this is worth a watch.

Now I must go and get on with my dissertation, but I do hope that you enjoyed that, and be sure to let me know if you've seen any of the above! Thanks for reading!

1 comment:

  1. I don't think I'm ever a fan of any of Gwyneth Paltrow's characters, but that's probably because I'm not overly fond of Gwyneth Paltrow - though Thanks For Sharing does sound really good, especially since I loved Friends With Kids. Also, as soon as I get some free time (err, so that's probably 2017 then?!) I am definitely double billing The Princess Diaries films, I absolutely loved the first one when I was younger and I'm totally the same about originally disliking the second one because of no Michael in it, but I think I'll give it another chance. Nothing to do with the fact you've informed me it's Chris Pine that's in it or anything... ;)