In his review of The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, Roger Ebert asks director Garry Marshall, "Did you deliberately assemble this movie from off-the-shelf parts or did it just happen that way? The film is like an homage to the cliché s and obligatory stereotypes of its genre. For someone like Marshall, it must have been like playing the scales."

Similarly distressed, Christian film critic Phil Boatwright (CBN), a champion of family-friendly movies, rants: "Directed with all the subtlety of Dr. Frankenstein … Marshall steals bits and pieces from every entry in the Cinderella genre, including his own attempts. Sadly, the resulting cannibalization leaves us with a lifeless, nearly witless movie."

Boatwright criticizes the cast for having "no energy" and says the characters' comical antics "just aren't funny. The slapstick gags are clumsier than the lead character, the story in desperate need of a rewrite and the lead actress as blah as Milk of Magnesia."

What else is wrong with the movie? According to Boatwright, the sets, the cinematography, and the direction.

And yet, Christian cultural commentator Ted Baehr (Movieguide) gives the film higher ratings than any other film currently playing. Baehr raves, "This virtuous movie is more than delightful. [It's] irresistible."

Who's right?

The Princess Diaries, adapted by Gina Wendkos and Shonda Rhimes from a novel by Meg Cabot, charmed mothers and daughters and a few film critics as well. The sequel, concocted just for the screen without the involvement of the original author, is being received more like an ugly stepsister than a princess. I'd summarize the plot for you, but, to quote Ebert once again: "There's no need for me to spoil the plot … it spoils itself. ...

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