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Picks and Pans Review: The Prince & Me

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ROMANTIC COMEDY

Julia Stiles, Luke Mably, James Fox, Miranda Richardson

CRITICS CHOICE

For any woman looking to get in touch with her inner 15-year-old, this savvy bit of wish fulfillment will do the trick. The movie is a fluffy fairy tale in which a smart heroine gets her prince on her own terms, and isn’t that the way we all wanted it to be?

The Prince & Me is a convivial, contemporary reworking of a tried-and-true formula: royal-in-disguise falls for commoner. Here, Denmark’s misbehaving prince Edvard (Mably) enrolls incognito at the University of Wisconsin after seeing a TV commercial for a Girls Gone Wild-type video featuring local college women. His first day on campus, he meets Paige (Stiles), a premed grind, and asks, “Will you take your top off for me?” She replies by spraying him with water. Their level of discourse soon improves to the point where he helps her with a Shakespeare course (he is particularly perceptive on Hamlet) and she introduces him to the joys of racing rider mowers back on her family’s farm. But can their love survive when his true identity is revealed?

Prince is in no way deep or particularly insightful about the problems facing either today’s royalty or today’s ambitious female college students. Its final third wobbles noticeably. But with able direction by Martha Coolidge (HBO’s Introducing Dorothy Dandridge), the cast is pleasing, the dialogue fairly funny and the main characters plausible enough that one happily buys in. Stiles, who always projects a fierce intelligence, capably represents America at its plainspoken best, and Mably, making like a junior Hugh Grant, is roguishly charming.