Movie Review: What a Girl Wants
What Your Girls Might Want

What a Girl Wants
(MGM’s remake of The Reluctant Debutante) feels more like a cross between The Princess Diaries and The Parent Trap, where an American girl goes off to England and manages to romance her long-absent father back into her mother’s arms. This is a fairy tale for preteen girls: the heroine gets to dress up in a lot of pretty clothes and play a high society princess before coming to her senses and realizing she’s just a free-spirited American girl!

Daphne (Amanda Bynes) is the too-cute-for-words American in London, in search of her father, Lord Dashwood (Colin Firth), a wealthy aristocrat who’s got a shot at becoming the next prime minister. Unhappily for her, dear dad is engaged to a social-climbing snob, who’s the daughter of her father’s ruthless political advisor (Jonathan Pryce) and the mother of a snooty and deceitful daughter.

The entire premise is so easy and obvious that you wish the filmmakers had worked harder concocting ways to ruffle the English aristocracy. Daphne literally hops over the wall and falls into Lord Dashwood’s garden, then bonds with her dad over their mutual love of Cocoa Puffs. She bursts into the Queen’s fashion show on the runway and upstages the models with her fresh and irreverent American look. She disrupts an elegant garden party by pushing a conceited Romeo into the river then escapes with her father on a motorcycle, and finally rocks out with her musician boyfriend at a straitlaced debutante party, where she gets ‘em all rockin’ and they ruin a priceless chandelier. For girls 8 and up. Rated PG for mild language.