A lot of us wonder what it's like to be royalty. Well, for San Franciscan schoolgirl Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway), it's something of a shock.
Mia is the class geek and outsider, with bushy eyebrows and frizzy hair. Her only ally against the taunting of bitchy Lana (Mandy Moore) is her equally bizarre-looking friend, Lilly (Matarazzo). Then one day, she gets a surprise visit from her granny (Julie Andrews), who announces that Mia's dead dad was actually a European Prince and that Mia is the Crown Princess of a little-known country called Genovia. The time has come for her to fulfil her birthright.
So, you've got makeovers, deportment lessons, and new-found fame. More importantly, you've got a young girl trying to learn about her family, while wrestling with the dilemma of giving up her life for a selfless, foreign existence. Of course, this being a Disney flick, you can imagine how it ends...
But it's getting there that's the fun part, as newcomer Hathaway shines in the title role, and generates great chemistry with her legendary British mentor. There is something so indescribably nice about Andrews that never gets tiring, and in this film she also gets to flex her "cool" muscle.
Sure, it's lightweight and overly-fond of slapstick - this is a family film after all - but director Marshall knows how to put together a gag. Add to that colourful scenery and equally charming personalities in front of the camera and you have yourself a very watchable, very warm little Disney comedy. Perfect for Christmas.