The title says it all. This is a classic Cinderella story about a hardworking girl from the Wisconsin dairy farm who wants to go to medical school but falls for a handsome and charming foreign exchange student who happens to be a prince in disguise. Does the course of true love run smooth? Not at first. Do they live happily ever after? What do you think?
Julia Stiles plays Paige Morgan, a serious and hard-working pre-med college student who has her whole life literally mapped out. She has a map of the world with pins showing all of the places she wants to visit after she completes her medical training and joins Doctors Without Borders.
Luke Mably plays Edvard, the heir to the Danish crown. His life is also planned for him, but unlike Paige, he is not the one who made the plans. While she is determined to follow a dream that will take her very far from the life she was born into, Edvard only wants to postpone the inevitable by having as much fun as possible before he has to take on the responsibilities of the life he was born to.
So, Edvard races cars and fools around with lots of women. He does not pay attention in important meetings and he makes headlines in the tabloids.
Edvard sees an ad for a “Girls Gone Wild” video, and decides that he wants to go to America, where girls are all pretty and willing to take their tops off for the camera. He arranges to enroll in college in Wisconsin incognito as “Eddie,” a foreign exchange student.
If you don’t know these two are meant for each other, you didn’t pay attention to the title. Edvard learns what it is like to have to earn respect and affection — and money — and Paige learns what it is like to listen to her heart and use her imagination. They each get to explore the other’s family and culture. He races a souped-up riding lawnmower in Wisconsin farm country and she stays in a castle and goes to a ball. But falling in love is easy; finding a way to make their dreams and responsibilities fit together is not.
Director Martha Coolidge (Rambling Rose, Introducing Dorothy Dandridge) has a sensitive touch in dealing with young female characters. She and Stiles do their best to make Paige more than the typical romantic comedy heroine. Mably shows some ease and charm as Eddie, who describes that other Danish prince, Hamlet, as though he is talking about himself: “The prince was young and scared and didn’t feel ready for the choices he had to make.” All of that helps to make up for a weak script that is too often too silly and too seldom original. By the time we have to sit through a scene of Paige trying on all the Crown jewels, they have long since run out of ideas.
Parents should know that this movie has some mild language and some passionate kissing and sexual references. The prince comes to America because he sees a commercial for the “Girls Gone Wild” videos and thinks that in the US girls all take their tops off for anyone who asks. There is an interrupted encounter that the couple might have intended to become more intimate, but there is no implication that Eddie and Paige go to bed together. There is a mild gay joke when characters do not understand the relationship between Eddie and the aide his family has sent to watch over him. There are scenes in a bar and characters drink, including a drinking game.
Families who see this movie should talk about what Eddie and Paige saw in each other and what challenges lie ahead of them. What would be the best thing about being a prince? What would be the worst? What made Eddie’s mother change her mind? How do the costumes and uniforms Eddie and Paige wear help tell the story? Families might also want to talk about the way Eddie approaches the labor dispute. Why was it so hard to resolve? What do Paige’s and Eddie’s mothers have in common?
Families who like this movie might want to find out more about the famous Danes mentioned by Eddie, like physicist Nils Bohr, philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, and fairy tale author Hans Christian Andersen. And, of course, supermodel Helena Christensen, Mettalica drummer Lars Ulrich, and Hamlet! Families will also enjoy learning more about Denmark and the real Danish royal family (with a prince who is about to marry a commoner, probably the only thing he has in common with the prince in this movie). The full text of the Shakespeare sonnet Eddie and Paige read together is here. And the humanitarian group Paige wants to work for is Doctors Without Borders, an international organization of doctors and other health professionals who volunteer to provide medical services to those in need throughout the world.
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy other royal romances like the bittersweet Roman Holiday and The Swan (starring about-to-become-a-real-princess Grace Kelly), the comic Coming to America with Eddie Murphy (some mature material), and, of course the classic Cinderella and Drew Barrymore’s take on that story, Ever After. Edward Fox, whose brother James plays the King in this movie, played a real-life King who gave up his throne to marry a commoner in the miniseries Edward and Mrs. Simpson. They might like to read books by and about Americans who married royalty including Queen Noor’s Leap of Faith and Hope Cook’s Time Change.