The Prince and Me
By Kim Hollis
March 31, 2004
It is not nor it cannot come to good.
Apparently, every girl really does dream of becoming a princess because recently, we've been inundated with a rash of movies that explore precisely that concept. The Prince and Me, which has its entire plot revealed both in television commercials and trailers, is another modern-day take on the Cinderella story.
Come, give us a taste of your quality.
The movie actually gets off to a surprisingly decent start. Though it's not really treading any new ground, the introduction to the two leads gives us two earnest and likeable characters to root for. Paige, a pre-med student who devotes herself to her studies and dreams of working with Doctors Without Borders, is an All-American girl who seems just a little lonely. As played by Julia Stiles, it's easy to relate to Paige. While she puts up a brave façade, she's not quite perfect. Paige struggles with her Shakespeare class and is so dedicated to gaining admission to Johns Hopkins University's med school that she saves very little time for herself.
On the other side of the ocean is Edvard, Prince of Denmark (Luke Mably). He's a playboy with a knack for capturing headlines. His royal parents despair over whether Edvard will ever be a suitable successor for the throne, especially as the king has real political responsibility in their country. After he sees an advertisement for a "Wisconsin Girls Gone Wild" sort of video, the prince determines that he can cure his sense of wanderlust by journeying to this strange new land where college chicks will show him their boobies at the drop of a hat. He'll pretend to be an ordinary Danish guy, free of the shackles that come as a result of being a future monarch.
Naturally, once Edvard ("call me Eddie") arrives on the Wisconsin campus and encounters Paige, numerous misunderstandings ensue, and she determines that he is instantly the most insufferable man she has ever met. Eddie, on the other hand, is captivated by Paige, and takes stalky steps such as arranging to get a job at the same bar where she already works. Creepy as it sounds, Mably is so undeniably charming that he really makes this section of the story work. The chemistry between the leads is excellent, particularly as their relationship is budding and they begin to realize that there might just be more than friendship between them.
Additionally, the action (so to speak) is pushed along in part through the assistance of Eddie's concierge, Soren (Ben Miller). Despite being relegated mostly to comic relief, Miller scores huge points here as his timing and delivery are spot on. Even as we see Eddie and Paige become comfortable with one another, Soren adapts to America and a more laid-back approach to life in general.
This is the very ecstasy of love.
Once the sparks finally ignite between Paige and Eddie, their romance is very sweet. She takes him home to meet her hard-working farm family, and he enthusiastically pitches in to help, learning the ins and outs of daily life in the Dairyland. Even though Paige still has doubts about immersing herself in a relationship, her walls are beginning to crumble. And as viewers, we're content that the couple is finding happiness.
Season your admiration for a while.
Suddenly, along comes the third act of the film, where things take a pointed turn in a very negative direction. Naturally, we get the big reveal, where Paige learns that her beloved Eddie is in fact a prince. She gets angry, he returns home to accept his kingly responsibilities, and both are miserable. But hey, we all know that these things always have happy endings, right?
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
Not so fast. Yes, Paige heads to Denmark to find out if this "big love" is as special as it seems, and Eddie proposes. Theoretically (since the movie has already run preposterously long at this point), that should be the warm fuzzy that completes the cycle. Instead, the film becomes impossibly dark, a tone that is completely lacking any congruity with the first portion of the film.
For Paige, there are numerous problems with her potential future assumption of the throne. Overcoming the fact that the queen totally disapproves of her presence is one issue, but even worse (and more insidious) is the fact that she's placed on a pedestal. While Eddie does all the dirty work (resolving crisis after crisis), she's forced to the sidelines (and probably very bored, I would imagine). And hey, what happened to her dream of being a doctor? You'd think Paige might have thought all this out before accepting the prince's proposal, but clearly, a person who had planned every single facet of her life up to that moment would never do such a thing.
What results is a climax/denouement that is so unsatisfying as to take away from the enjoyment of the otherwise engaging aspects of the film. The feeling one gets is that the original ending of The Prince and Me was so unappetizing to test audiences that an abrupt change was made as an attempted solution. It just didn't work.
In fact, the third act of the film is so contemptible that I began openly revolting against the characters, the story and actors and crew. I was angry that I'd been deceived into actually liking pretend people whose decisions and actions turned out to be so ridiculous in the end. While I wish I could recommend it for the solid performances and the fine interplay between its leads, that final 30 minutes is just too awful for me to do so in good conscience.