Review: “What A Girl Wants”

A somewhat flat Cinderella-esque story, ‘Girl’ is a retread of “The Princess Diaries” with the attention deficit in mind. Designed purely as a vehicle for cable TV kids star Amanda Bynes, the round-featured young girl made an impression last year co-starring with Frankie Muniz in “Big Fat Liar” and so now comes this attempt to cash in on that success – its a winning formula as Amanda Bynes did the same thing soon after. The question is why would she settle on such a tired Disney-esque TV movie, and more importantly why the likes of Colin Firth and Kelly Preston would agree to such a project.

Firth especially has had such a good track record of late and acting chops wise he’s well above all the cast, at least being one of the few sincere characters in this despite one cheesy shopping montage scene – his heartfelt speech at the film’s end is the film’s sole emotional punch but its a strong one. Kelly Preston for the most part phones it in though has some nice scenes in the last act, Bynes does well in the lead role but its nothing too dynamic, Jonathon Pryce is stupidly over the top, whilst Eileen Atkins has a sweet supporting role as the English granny who gives sagely advice. More than Bynes though, this film will be remembered for the debut of young UK spunk Oliver James who has the potential to be the next Orlando Bloom.

The script sadly goes for not only the obvious, but the ridiculously cliched and can never truly decide whether it wants to be very clean cut high farce, or a genuinely sweet drama – as a result its neither. Its treatment of English society is so old-fashioned this is more pure fantasy than a family drama, whilst the standard ‘avoid scandal’ routine subplot raises its ugly head yet again. The poppy soundtrack already sounds out of ate and at over 100 minutes, its a good 20 minutes or so too long. Its safely predictable entertainment for the age group, but even they will find it insulting to their intelligence.