Being a royal isn't all it's cracked up to be. According to The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, it's so much better - an endless round of swanky balls, elegant receptions, and loyal subjects waiting in line for a regal wave. OK, so all-American princess Mia (Anne Hathaway) must tie the knot if she's to inherit the Genovian throne from Queen Clarisse (Julie Andrews). But it's a small price to pay in a chocolate-box sequel whose rose-tinted view of constitutional monarchy will provoke hoots of derision this side of the pond.
Nobody was crying out for a sequel to 2001's The Princess Diaries, but with Hathaway approaching adulthood at a rate of knots, Disney evidently thought it best to cash in as quickly as possible. That's one excuse for Garry Marshall's sloppy sequel, which puts easily surmountable obstacles in the path of Mia's impending coronation in the hope of engineering a feelgood family comedy. It doesn't, though not for want of trying by the director's game cast.
Chief among them is Dame Julie Andrews, bringing a lifetime of experience and style to material so far beneath her it's practically subterranean. Alas, Marshall doesn't know a class act when he sees it, squandering a landmark scene (Andrews singing on screen for the first time in two decades) and obliging her to play second fiddle to Hathaway's bland teen lead. He also saddles her with an unconvincing romantic subplot that sees her stooping to conquer the affections of her doting bodyguard, Joe (Marshall regular Hector Elizondo).
The saccharine-flavoured story has Mia choosing between toffee-nosed Brit Andrew Jacoby (Callum Blue) and smouldering bad boy Nicholas Devereaux (Chris Pine). The real question, however, is where exactly the mythical principality of Genovia is located. With a bewildering range of accents, fashions and local customs, it's about as European as Epcot.