The original "Princess Diaries" was cute, and probably worked better than it should, but boy, was it overlong at nearly two hours. Given that the fluffy original seemed padded, did we really need a sequel? Written by Shonda Rhimes ("Crossroads". Hahahahaha.) The sequel begins five years later, as now-princess Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway) has now graduated from college, and is headed to her little country of Genovia to prepare to take the throne.
Unfortunately, there's something in her way: The evil Viscount Mabrey (John Rhys-Davies), whose nephew Sir Nicholas (Chris Pine) is, apparently, next in line for the throne. So, in order to get the throne, Mia has to marry. As a result, we get love, highly unpleasant "Bachelor"-style, as Mia goes through a list of potential suitors. She ends up with Andrew Jacoby, Prince of Kensington (Callum Blue), and a marriage is in the works. However, Mia's eye starts to drift towards Nicholas.
So, the story isn't exactly original, or interesting, or clever, or...well, you get the picture. Padding is also the order of the day this time around, as Marshall offers up a few montages that really advance the story in no particular way, such as a terribly overlong sleepover party that throws in a performance from Disney Channel mainstay and former Cosby kid Raven. At nearly two hours, the picture could have easily been cut by about 20 minutes.
This time around, the only thing that really keeps the entire enterprise afloat is Hathaway, who once again is charmingly klutzy as Mia. Andrews really doesn't have much to do, and Pine and Blue are bland. Genovia looks a bit too much like sets, and although there's some laughs to be had here on occasion, the movie glides along pretty flatly. "Diaries 2" is an attempt by Disney to cash-in on the original film - there's really not much effort or inspiration in this forgettable sequel.
VIDEO: "Princess Diaries 2" is presented by Disney in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen (a full-frame version is also available). There's been some rather disappointing presentations comig out of Disney in the past few months, and "Princess Diaries 2" is unfortunately, another title falling into that catagory. While not terrible on the level of the "Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen" release, the picture shows some concerns. For starters, sharpness and detail are rather unsatisfying, as the picture presents decent definition, but often can look a tad soft.
Edge enhancement is present, but not to a very noticable degree. Some slight pixelation was noticed in a couple of scenes, however. The print used wasn't without fault, either - surprisingly, I did notice a speck or two present. On a positive note, colors remained bright and well-saturated, with no smearing. Flesh tones remained accurate and natural, as well.
SOUND: "Princess Diaries 2" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The film's soundtrack, as expected from the genre, doesn't offer anything too ambitious. Surrounds are rarely used, and even when they do enter the picture, their contribution is pretty minimal. Spread across the front speakers is pretty decent, and audio quality is fine: dialogue was crisp and clear, while the minimal sound effects seemed well-recorded.
EXTRAS: A feature length commentary with director Garry Marshall and actress Julie Andrews is included. Marhsall also provides introductions for eight deleted scenes. A gag reel lasts a few minutes and provides some laughs. "Making a Return Engagement" (15:37) is a "making of" featurette hosted by Raven that offers some tidbits on the making of the film. "PD2 Makeover" has Anne Hathaway's stand-in being transformed into Mia's character. Finally, there's Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway" music video, an interactive quiz and promos for other Disney titles.
Final Thoughts: Hathaway is a bright spot in this otherwise rather lackluster sequel, which is a pretty uninspired redo of the first one. Disney's DVD edition provides acceptable audio/video quality, along with a pretty good helping of supplements. Those interested should try a rental first.