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28 October 2014

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PG What a Girl Wants (2003)
Reviewed by Stella Papamichael

updated 6th August 2003

reviewer's rating
two star


Dennie Gordon

Jenny Bicks
Elizabeth Chandler

Amanda Bynes
Colin Firth
Kelly Preston
Anna Chancellor
Tom Harper
Jonathan Pryce

105 minutes

Warner Bros

8th August 2003


Web Links

Interview with Amanda Bynes

Interview with Oliver James

Interview with director Dennie Gordon

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Cinderella has been done so many times she can no longer wear white to her wedding. Not that Amanda Bynes would ever dream of doing anything so conventional in "What a Girl Wants". You see, she's American, and therefore fun and funky, where we Brits are staid and stuffy. What-ho! I say, spiffing cucumber sandwiches, etc.

One gets the idea. In fact, if you thought "The Princess Diaries" was a mite hackneyed, there are even fewer surprises in this effort - "inspired" by 50s pic "The Reluctant Debutante" - by director Dennie Gordon.

Hip chick Daphne Reynolds ("Big Fat Liar star Bynes) jets from New York to London to make the acquaintance of the father she's never known. He just happens to be Lord Henry Dashwood (Colin Firth), very debonair but so uptight he could crack a nut when he walks.

And that's nothing compared to Dashwood's fiancée (Anna Chancellor) and prospective stepdaughter (Christina Cole) - a frosty double act to rival the Polar ice caps.

Inevitably Daphne causes quite the ballyhoo, threatening Dashwood's impending marriage, and his political ambitions, with her infernal jollity. She even goes so far as to give HRH The Prince of Wales an impromptu lap dance in one of few mildly amusing moments.

Her inclination towards open displays of affection also jars with The Dashwood Way. Moving to give her grandmother a hug, she's waved away with the advice: "I'm British. We only show affection to dogs and horses."

Director Gordon rolls out one cliché after another at a wearing pace. Ironically though, it's Colin Firth's square-shaped performance that proves to be the high note in the movie; Amanda Bynes' monotone exuberance feeling strained by comparison.

Admittedly prepubescent girlie-girls might be won over by Miss Bynes' chickadee antics, but supervising guardians should be warned: it'll take a lot more than a stiff upper lip to swallow this bag of old chestnuts.

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