Fri, Jun 25, 2004 - Page 20 News List

The sweet fairy tale of marrying a prince unravels in the new movie

'The Prince and Me' is a film that is best described as `a cream puff with a melted marshmallow inside it'

By Stephen Holden  /  NY TIMES NEWS REVIEW

Above, Luke Mably is a royal lookalike in The Prince and Me. Below, Julia Stiles is the princess.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF FOX MOVIES

It's probably no coincidence that Luke Mably, the skinny English actor in The Prince and Me playing an undercover royal with a roguish streak who falls in love with an all-American farm girl, bears a conspicuous resemblance to Prince William. As titled bachelors go nowadays, no one can top the elder son of Diana, Princess of Wales, in the dewy heartthrob department. And with the real prince unavailable to Hollywood for exploitation, why not create a facsimile and bring him to America to discover what truly fine folks we are?

So what if Mably's character, Edvard Valdemar Dangaard, is the crown prince of Denmark, not of England? What's the difference anyway between Copenhagen and London, given that the prince and his parents speak perfect upper-class English, without a trace of a Danish accent?

One day, the prince, or Eddie, as he renames himself, happens to watch a Girls Gone Wild! program set in Wisconsin and becomes so steamed up he decides to attend college there. Once ensconced in a dorm room at the University of Wisconsin with his obedient young secretary, Soren (Ben Miller), his first mistake is to make a pass at Paige Morgan (Julia Stiles), a student working as a barmaid. When she rebuffs him with a squirt of soda water in his face, she kicks into action the fighting spirit of a royal who has never heard the word no. Can true love be far behind?

As fate would have it, the lazy, spoiled prince is designated Paige's lab partner in an organic chemistry class and the two strike up an edgy friendship.

When she invites him home for Thanksgiving, love begins to blossom. Back at college, his true identity comes out when two nosy paparazzi track him to library stacks and snap shots of the sweethearts in an intimate clinch. The relationship hits a very brief glitch.

Film Notes

Directed by: Martha Coolidge

Starring:

Julia Stiles (Paige Morgan), Luke Mably (Prince Edvard "Eddie" Valdemar Dangaard), Ben Miller (Soren), James Fox (King Haraald), Miranda Richardson (Queen Rosalind), Eliza Bennett (Princess Arabella)

Running time: 107 minutes

Taiwan Release: today


The Prince and Me, which opens today, is a cream puff with a melted marshmallow inside it. As the temperature rises, the whole gooey thing starts to melt. Stiles' farm girl-turned-princess-in-waiting is a model of integrity and decency, so unpretentious she seems anachronistic in the age of Britney, Christina and J Lo. And Stiles, an actress with the intelligence to lend a semblance of reality to the dumbest dialogue, at least makes Paige likable.

The oddly shaped movie, directed by Martha Coolidge, doesn't have the backbone to sustain any conflict for more than a few minutes before collapsing into kisses and fashion modeling. Paige travels to Copenhagen, where she is

literally swept off the street by her Prince Charming onto a horse and carried to the palace. In no time at all she melts the icy heart of the queen. Meanwhile, the ailing king prepares to hand the prince the crown.

Although the overlong movie seems to come to an end two-thirds of the way through, it feels obliged to trot out one last fake conflict to unravel. The final question it asks is whether a college girl as good and nice as Paige can stand to be the queen of Denmark. Or must she renounce her love and her jewels to study medicine and work for Doctors Without Borders? How noble can one farm girl be?

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