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Article | “The Princess’s Diary” as an emblem of romantic comedies for teenagers

The romantic comedy genre is, on the whole, timeless. Since the birth of cinema, narrative forays of this type have filled the imaginations of filmmakers around the world, expressing themselves on the contemporary scene – specifically in the 1990s. After all, how can you not remember Julia Roberts in the classic ‘A Beautiful Woman’, a role that put her in the spotlight after a acclaimed performance in ‘Flowers of Steel’?

The truth is that romantic comedies, whether aimed at an adult or young audience, have always been channels that capitalize on their careers, just like Alicia Silverstone in “Beverly Hills Patties” or Chris Pratt in “Brides in War. “. And so does Oscar winner Anne Hathaway, one of today’s most famous and acclaimed actresses, who made her big screen debut with the memorable and entertaining “The Princess’s Diary” in 2001. .

Few have never heard of this film. Set in San Francisco, the production is based on Meg Cabot’s eponymous novel saga and tells the story of Mia Thermopolis (Hathaway), a clumsy young college student who is a constant target of ridicule at her school – until ‘she discovers that she is the heir to the throne of a small country called Genoa. She then goes through an intense process of transformation and etiquette overseen by her grandmother, Queen Clarisse (Julie Andrews), forced to decide whether she should take command of the realm that is her own right, or whether she will resign to to continue a “normal life” alongside her mother and her friends.

Romantic comedies generally don’t get well in the eyes of more mainstream critics, mainly because they don’t add anything new to the cinematic aesthetic. However, the dialogical character of such productions with the young audience is remarkable, which is represented by humanized and imperfect characters who find a way back to the top and are not limited to the classic stigma of the “hero”. In 2004, Lindsay Lohan immortalized Cady Heron in “Mean Girls,” becoming a cultural icon that has spanned the decades; six years later, it would be Emma Stone’s turn to star in one of the best teenage comedies of recent years, “The Lie”, playing an invisible girl who becomes the butt of rumors and the center of attention. even of his enemies.

Mia, in this regard, is built with the best of both worlds and is a symbol of the “transformations” of cinema – that is, in which a character with very low self-esteem is transmuted into an icon of cinema. fashion with an external appreciation. Criticized both by antagonist Lana Thomas (Mandy Moore), a self-centered and ruthless cheerleader, and by her grandmother, Mia realizes she needs to change – and is helped by a “fairy godmother” to the “Cinderella” (in this case, Paolo Puttanesca, played by Larry Miller) to earn the respect of her peers and present herself as a worthy woman of the royal family.

Of course, this concept, characterized as ‘Ugly Duckling Syndrome’, is not unique to ‘The Princess Diary’ and has appeared in several previous titles – including ‘My Beautiful Lady’, starring Audrey Hepburn. However, it was the Garry Marshall-directed film that shed light on the theme and popularized such forays with gigantic success and commercial appeal (by the way, analysts themselves were surprised by the box office receipts. -office). In another aspect, Andrews herself addressed viewers’ connection to the work, saying its longevity is due to the themes analyzed: “It’s about responsibility and obligation and decency and maturity and discovering who you are, ”she commented to D23.

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The iconic makeover isn’t forced, but is part of the physical comedy, in which Mia takes grueling etiquette lessons to immerse herself in the world of nobility – without losing her captivating personality. Hathaway and Andrews enjoy an unparalleled chemistry, which explains the constant glory of the film. But beyond that, the two actresses embody totally different generations who converge towards a spectacular turning point: Hathaway has shown gigantic potential, for her charisma, for her comedic timing and for her complete metamorphosis on stage; Andrews, immortalized by acclaimed performances in ‘Mary Poppins’ and ‘The Sound of Music’, has been reintroduced into Gen Z and “reclaimed” his legendary status (not that he lost it, quite the contrary).

Deconstructing the Manichean royal character to which we were accustomed until then, ‘Le Journal de la Princesse’ not only marked an era, but also found all the nostalgic elements of the beginning of the century without aging badly. Sure, some aspects might not have the same comedic content as before, but revisiting Mia and Clarisse’s journey is always a great idea – and one that won’t go away for many, many years to come.

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