Saturday, September 04, 2004

The Prince and Me 

The perfect Big Chase Scene that almost was. Alas, The Prince and Me suffers from PBCS - Premature Big Chase Scene. Julia Stiles plays Paige, another hard-working, ambitious young woman eager to make her way to the top in her chosen field. This time she strives to become a physician, but first she must make her way through her undergraduate degree without becoming distracted by boys and marriage. Jumping directly into her path is Luke Mably as Eddie, aka Prince Edward of Denmark (and yes, there are numerous Hamlet references), who is trying to delay his predetermined path to the monarchy and seeks to make his way as a regular guy at college in Wisconsin, where he has been led to believe that the college women are eager to reveal their breasts to college men. Needless to say this concept doesn't fly well with Paige, but also needless to say their daily interactions and arguments continue.

I think Julia Stiles is a wonderful, intelligent young actor who will hopefully be on the scene for many years. Unfortunately, her talents don't fully shine until a ways into the picture, when her character becomes more multidimensional. Once her single-mindedness steps a bit to the side and lets in fun, adventure, romance, confusion and room for possibility, she won me over.

Sadly, I did have a number of issues with the rest of the film. Some of the characters were a bit vague as to their motivations, and just seemed to be stuck in to fill up space. Perhaps there was more to them but they got left on the editing room floor. I was glad that Paige pointed out how absurd it was that Eddie was trying to pass off his obviously older valet as just another fellow college student who happened to follow him everywhere he went and performed all sorts of services for him, from holding his coat to preparing his eggs benedict.

One scene which could have worked but didn't took place during clean-up time at the campus cafe where Paige and Eddie both work. Paige is wiping down tables and stacking chairs, and she is also dancing to the music on the sound system. The music is slow and romantic, and her spins and sways are graceful and sensuous, and Eddie is smitten. But it was just so not what would be playing during cleanup, and it just didn't work as far as plausibility went. It might have worked better if they had placed the scene in another setting, like at the tail end of a party, or at a coffee house with a jazz trio.

Then there's the Big Chase Scene. I've mentioned before that a good romantic comedy needs a Big Chase Scene. This one was good as far as they go: sudden impulsive decision, long distances, lots of unexpected obstacles, crowd participation, ecstatic realization and grand finish. Then came the other half of the movie. The Big Chase Scene needs to be near the end, at the pinnacle of the question "Will they or won't they?" It can be followed by brief revelation of the aftermath, but that should be brief, then roll credits. It was way too early in this one, and the rest of the story just seemed like a letdown. They peaked too soon.

But the movie was a nice diversion, and the Big Chase Scene really was fun.

Reality Check: The Girl pretty much agreed with me. Nice flick, glad we didn't see it at the theater.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 7:43 PM