Marshall, G. (Director). (2004). The Princess Diaries. [Motion picture]. United States: Walt Disney Home
Genre: Princesses, Royalty, Real Fiction, Beauty, Comedy, Coming of age
Reading level/ interest age: 12+
Mia is an average high school student with average friends until one day, she discovers she is a princess! Heir to a small country called Genovia, Mia must embark on a journey to transform from the person she once was into an heiress. With her Grandmother’s guidance and some help from a team of professionals, Mia begins to morph from plane Jane to a future queen. Her friends all think Mia’s royalty is amazing until they realize Mia has less time to see them and more important duties than hanging out. Mia begins to notice the change in her friends and herself as well and becomes more distant as people at school start treating her differently. Being a princess is a lot of work and something Mia did not exactly sign up for. Her clumsiness continues to embarrass her Grandmother and delight the competition for the crown until it all comes to a head.
While on a date, Mia is publically humiliated. The guy she thought liked her gets his fifteen minutes of fame by calling in the paparazzi to snap photos of them kissing. Trying to escape the scene, Mia flees into a changing room where the tent is removed, leaving her exposed for the cameras. The next day, her family is furious at the unwanted attention she drew and Mia begins to plan on running away. Is a life on the road better than a seat on the throne?
All Mia ever wanted to be is normal but when you’re the heir to the throne, life’s anything but! Can Mia trade in her old life to rule as princess?
Information about the author:
“Famed director and producer Garry Marshall was born Garry Kent Masciarelli on November 13, 1934, in the Bronx, New York. The son of an industrial filmmaker and a dance instructor, Marshall majored in journalism at Northwestern University and served a stint in the army before becoming a reporter for the New York Daily News. During the course of his extensive career he's produced many iconic and beloved television series, such as Happy Days and The Odd Couple, and directed films such as Pretty Woman.
“In 1961, Marshall moved to Los Angeles, where he teamed up with writer Jerry Belson. Together, they wrote episodes for The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Lucy Show. In 1970, Marshall produced the sit-com The Odd Couple, based on a popular Neil Simon play and starring Jack Klugman and Tony Randall. He reached the height of his career as a television producer during the 1970s, with such hits as Laverne and Shirley (a Happy Days spin-off starring sister Penny Marshall) and Mork and Mindy” (Biography.com, 2014).
Curriculum ties: N/A
1. Would being a princess really be everything you ever dreamed?
2. Would you take the crown or decide to live a normal life?
The Princess Diaries did a fantastic job of convincing the viewer that Mia is unfit to wear the crown. A gangly teenager with no great responsibilities, the viewer has a hard time believing that she will be a successful queen. Throughout the tough decisions Mia is forced to make, she beings to transform from a girl into a woman. This coming of age story is timeless and wonderfully light hearted. Mia is at once relatable and her metamorphosis is astonishing. The family dynamics are something rarely seen in Disney movies as well. Mia’s mother, while having had great respect for Mia’s father, disliked his background and chose to live outside the limelight.
Costuming for the movie was well chosen as the dresses and jewelry Mia wears are eye catching. Casting was fantastic as well as Anne Hathaway was relatively unknown at the time and Julie Andrews makes for a stunning queen with her on-screen regality. Héctor Elizondo is also a great fit for his part as a family assistant and serves to provide Mia with the guidance and clarity she sometimes so desperately needs.
Challenge issues: N/A
I included the Princess Diaries because I think that it is a great transitional movie from children to teen. Mia is a great role model because she is caught between being a teen and a princess with rules and responsibilities.
Biography.com. (2014). Garry Marshall Biography. Retrieved August 29, 2014 from