'The Princess Diaries' Is More Loved Today Than Ever Before — And It All Has To Do With Meghan Markle
Everyone's favorite princess movie is having a bit of a renaissance. Despite coming out 17 years ago, The Princess Diaries is even more culturally relevant and universally beloved today than it was at the time of its 2001 release. Of course, this isn't to say the film's original run was a bomb; it received some mixed reviews, sure, but it had a profitable showing at the box office and even scored a sequel. However, nothing about the movie's initial reception indicated that people would maintain such affection for it almost two decades later. And yet, here we are in 2018, with both nostalgic fans and younger generations enjoying The Princess Diaries even more than we did during its original run. So what gives?
Part of the film's current popularity is surely due to Netflix recently adding it to the streaming service, but that's far from the only reason. And even if audiences are finding or revisiting the charming story of Mia (and the very cool San Fransisco apartment in which she lives) because it's accessible on Netflix, they stay for its exploration of feminism, identity, family, girlhood, and duty — and the surprising discovery that The Princess Diaries is actually as timely as it gets, regardless of its 2001 release. Here's why.
The Plot Literally Just Happened In Real Life
It's hard to name a 2018 cultural event bigger than Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding. Following the nuptials, every public appearance made by the couple had also garnered a large amount of cultural clout, with debates happening over their PDA (or lack thereof), Markle's choice of wardrobe, and even the way she sits.
With this being a period of Meghan Markle Mania, it's no surprise people are drawn to The Princess Diaries. Because, Markle is Mia Thermopolis. She's an American from California who suddenly became a European princess (err, duchess but close enough). Albeit, Markle and Mia's paths into royalty differ, as Markle married into royalty while Mia was born into royalty. But still, the film is close enough of a parallel.
It's also been reported that Markle must undergo six months of royalty training, which one can only assume is much like the lessons Queen Clarisse Renaldi put Mia through.
'Ocean’s 8' Has Finally Opened Everyone’s Eyes To Anne Hathaway’s Excellence
Anne Hathaway is a true talent. The Oscar-winning actor can play everything from Catwoman to an aspiring journalist to a recovering drug addict to — well, you get it. Give Hathaway a role and she will deliver, and deliver she certainly did in Ocean’s 8. In the summer blockbuster, Hathaway played a seemingly self-absorbed and insecure actor, and in the process, she stole every scene. Her performance was universally praised as the best part of the film, which is quite the feat when the movie also starred the likes of Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett. In fact, Hathaway's turn in Ocean's 8 seems to have reminded everyone that she's not only very talented, but a comedic gem. And if you want to see Hathaway's budding comedic chops on display, The Princess Diaries it is.
It's A Film About Female Leadership That Definitely Passes The Bechdel Test
Although Mia likely won't be creating any laws as part of her royal duties, The Princess Diaries still remains a film very much about a young woman embracing a leadership position and all the responsibility that comes with it. Mia doesn't take her new position lightly and is earnestly concerned with public service to the people of Genovia. In these dark political times, Mia's conviction for serving the good of the people is truly refreshing.
On top of that, the whole movie is a feminist dream of fully developed female characters whose arcs aren't dependent on male characters. Suffice to say, it passes the Bechdel Test with flying colors.
It Features A Pre-'Grey's Anatomy' Sandra Oh (Stealing Every Scene, As She Tends To Do)
Those Grey's Anatomy fans with Cristina Yang-sized holes in their hearts (so, pretty much all Grey's Anatomy fans) can see Sandra Oh in The Princess Diaries. She plays Vice Principal Gupta and she steals every scene she's in, which is a very Yang thing to do. Oh is undeniably one of the most talented actors working today. Her most recent turn in Killing Eve earned her an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama, making her the first actor of Asian descent to be honored in this category.
'This Is Us' Fans Can Appreciate A Young Mandy Moore
Mandy Moore is back and better than ever, as every single This Is Us fan can confirm through their tears. And one of the actor's very first onscreen film appearance was in The Princess Diaries, as mean girl and burgeoning musical star Lana. While audiences now know Moore has the acting chops to make everyone cry week in and week out, it's fun to spot her performance here.
It Was Produced By Whitney Houston
The Princess Diaries has a very fun, very 2000s soundtrack, and that's likely because none other than Whitney Houston produced the film. Yes, the Grammy Award-winning musical legend produced this film and i's sequel, as well as The Cheetah Girls. So really, we all have Houston to thank for some of the greatest cinematic achievements of the early aughts.
On top of Houston, the Princess Diaries screenplay was penned by Gina Wendkos and based on the series of YA novels of the same name by Meg Cabot. So there were many women who contributed to the creative process of making the film.
Oh, and that soundtrack? It features BBMak, Aaron Carter, Backstreet Boys, Myra, Hanson, and B*Witched. Do not sleep on the Princess Diaries soundtrack.
The Makeover Montage Has Major 'Queer Eye' Vibes
Between The Princess Diaries and The Devil Wear Prada, it’s a well-known fact that Hathaway is the queen of makeover montages. What's so noteworthy about the specific makeover montage in The Princess Diaries is that it's an actual makeover. So many films feature a female character who is made over by, like, taking off her glasses. (She's All That is notorious for this.) But Mia's hair is frizzy and unstyled, her eyebrows have never been groomed, and her nail polish is chipped. As a result, she goes through an actual transformation.
On top of the montage feeling like a makeover, it also promotes grooming and self-care. In this way, it feels similar to how Queer Eye's Jonathan is all about taking the time to care for yourself. What's not to love?
The Film Is Blissfully Free Of The "Hathahate" Era
The Hathahate Era was a painful, dark time in celebrity news. It began in 2012, when Hathaway and Jennifer Lawrence did the awards circuit for Les Misérables and Silver Linings Playbook respectively, ending with both of them winning Academy Awards in 2013. Unsurprisingly, the actors were pitted against each other by the media, and while Lawrence's breezy "I’m-just-like-you" brand fared well, especially when coupled with her infamous fall at the Oscars, Hathaway was criticized for being too ambitious and wanting people to like her too much. Thus, Hathahate was born.
While this has died down, some films feel forever tainted by Hathahate, like Les Misérables and The Dark Knight Rises. But alas, The Princess Diaries remains far removed and can be enjoyed without the guilty reminder of Hathahate.
This movie is always worth a re-watch, but today, it's more relevant than ever before.