The Prince and Me (8/10)

Copyright © 2004 by Tony Medley

It’s not true that I like every romantic comedy that comes down the pike. I detested last year’s Down With Love. The Prince and Me, however, fits nicely into the first category, the ones I like.

Paige Morgan (Julia Stiles) is a farm-raised, highly motivated college senior at Wisconsin, on the fast track to Medical School. Prince Edward, or Eddie (Luke Mably), is a spoiled, pleasure-seeking Crown Prince of Denmark, heir to the Danish thrown. Eddie has run through all the girls in Denmark, so he sees a soft porn video of college girls in Wisconsin flashing their breasts and dashes off to become a student, with his faithful equerry, Soren (Ben Miller), in tow.

There he meets Paige. Sparks fly and both of their lives change.

This is well written  (the team of Jack Amiel and Michael Begler, and story creator Katherine Fugate), well directed (Martha Coolidge) and well acted by everyone in the cast. While it could have been truly dopey, the intelligent script keeps the characters as true to life as possible. Mably is exceptional as Prince Eddie. He’s arrogant, demands obedience and fealty, and acts as if he’s to the throne born, which he is. Stiles is a feisty, attractive coed (which is what she is in real life, an English lit major at Columbia). Consistent with their performances, Ben Miller adds mightily to the final product as the richly comedic stoic, Soren.

I wouldn’t be doing my job as a critic if I failed to point out that while the filmmakers seemed to have done their research in creating the Danish Royal Court, when Paige is attending her first formal dinner at the Palace, the food servers serve from the right. Unless things are done differently in Europe, the correct way is that dishes are always presented at the left of the person served. Such a faux pas at a formal dinner with the King (James Fox) and Queen (Miranda Richardson) present would be inconceivable. One might even go so far as to say that not serving from the left would be gauche.

The other parts of the film that were less than perfect involve Paige’s relationships with her collegiate girlfriends. In a scene at the beginning of the film where Paige and her friends are sitting in the local hangout, their conversation is disconcertingly contrived. Similar forced conviviality occurred in last year’s Mona Lisa Smile, and the group conviviating included the same Julia Stiles, raising the question as to whether it’s bad acting or bad writing. This labored friendship pops up occasionally throughout the film as Paige’s girl friends encourage her romance with Eddie. These scenes are unrealistic, rob the story of its pace, and weaken what is an entertaining film.

The Czechoslovakian locations add to the enjoyment of the film. Several palaces were used, The Valtice Chateau, Ploskovice Castle, and Libochovice Castle, as well as Prague’s Strahov Monastery, in addition to locations in and around Prague. The cinematography (Alex Nepomniaschy) is gorgeous.

This is a funny, entertaining romantic comedy.

April 3, 2004

The End