Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Random DVD roundup 1: WHAT A GIRL WANTS

From the writer of THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELLING PANTS comes a teen romance so schmaltzy and low-rent that it made both me and its target demographic (my god-daughter) cringe. All this despite its stellar cast of British character actors - Jonathan Pryce and Eileen Atkins - and the central performance from Amanda Bynes who has real comic ability.

The story is pure schmaltz. Back in the day, American hippie Libby Reynolds (Kelly Preston) fell for British aristo Henry Dashwood (Colin Firth). They got married but after a misunderstanding, Libby left Henry to the responsibility of running his estate. Years later and unbeknownst to Henry, he has a teenage American daughter who rocks up and causes havoc. Henry's fiancee and future step-daughter are being upstaged and Henry's political career is threatened by his new daughter's gaffes. The daughter, Daphne (Amanda Bynes), decides to become more conservative to please her father, and so dumps her new British boyfriend. But in the end, of course, we learn that it's better to just be yourself.

All rom-coms contain a huge dollop of unreality but WHAT A GIRL WANTS just goes too far. There are scenes where Daphne is hob-nobbing with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip! But the really excruciating part is the final scene when the father finds the daughter again and declares that he wouldn't change her and loves her dearly. It's written as a straightforward rom-com love scene which is just icky when played between a father and a daughter.

Definitely one to avoid.

WHAT A GIRL W liver james, romance, teen ANTS opened in 2003 and is available on DVD an on the iTunes store.

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