Fun fact: Whitney Houston was one of the three main producers for this movie and I was today years old when I discovered that. Also, Julie Andrews is a legendary gem and I cannot stress that enough. She is so regal and fairy godmother like and I love when I get to see her on-screen. I felt like I needed to take a class on etiquette after watching this again.
Remember when Anne Hathaway was in The Devil Wears Prada or maybe when she won an Oscar for her role in Les Misérables? Well, this is her before that. Do you watch Mandy Moore as Rebecca in This is Us? Do you cry sometimes when she speaks? Well, she was a bully here and the tears came from Mia. Don’t you love when you rewatch a movie with an actor or actress who is miles from their beginning role? Nostalgia. Another fun fact, Liv Tyler was almost Mia until Hathaway auditioned.
The Princess Diaries is a ugly duckling to swan film with Mia Thermopolis as our subject. You see, Mia has been raised by a single mother who divorced her husband who is now deceased. Mia knew her father through the gifts and letters he sent her but never really spent time with her which leads the main plot of this film. In a meeting with her grandma, Mia finds out that she is the sole heir to the throne in the fictional Genovia, which I thought for a long time was an actual place. Don’t judge me. I was a child. Any who, Mia has a decision to make in her teenage life that isn’t going too well anyway. He’s in a private school where her and her best friend are the invisible nerds…well at least Mia is. There is the scene in the beginning where the teacher says hi to Lily and addresses Mia as “Lily’s friend.” Later, a student sits on her as if he didn’t see her. That I cannot believe. You knew someone was there!
I recently rewatched this movie out of boredom and the fact that I haven’t seen it in awhile. When the movie starts, Mia looks like this….
And after Paolo Puttanesca’s team gets through with her, she looks like this…
As a child and even today, I did not think we could go from the aforementioned photo to the above photo. This is also why the Liv Tyler casting perplexed me. This transformation, for me, was epic at the time. They even showed us the process and I still shook my head. But even with her being newly gorgeous, kids are still awful people, specifically popular kids. As a person when went through being a really smart kid and being chastised for it, I know. I yelled “shut up” to whichever “smart” kid made the comment about her new straight hair being a wig. With all that hair, dummy? I digress.
I think what makes this movie magical for us are two things. One, Julie Andrews because who better to guide someone on a journey into Princess-dom and adulthood, besides Lena Horne, than Julie Andrews? Two, I think as young girls, most of us could see ourselves in Mia. We didn’t have the responsibility of deciding whether I would take the throne in another country but being bullied, the glow-up and deciding who is for you were all struggles we all continue to go through well beyond our teenage years. Mia was so perfectly awkward, much like a lot of us, that it was such a shock when she became so poised and regal. I could only wish but Mia taught us that her transformation on the outside did not mean that she had to change on the inside. The people who mattered to her loved her with her wild hair and severe awkwardness and those that pretended to like where once she did transform were not her friends. Hard lessons but lessons that needed to be learned.
The Princess Diaries can be found on, where else, Disney+. Everyone’s favorite scene is the scenes with Paolo Puttanesca who seemed exhausted when he was finished making her over.