WHAT A GIRL WANTS

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Release Date: April 04, 2003

Starring: Amanda Bynes, Colin Firth, Kelly Preston, Anna Chancellor, Christina Cole, Oliver James, and Jonathan Pryce

Genre: Comedy

Audience: Older children to
adults REVIEWERS: Lisa Rice,
and Lili and Evelyn Baehr Many
moviegoers, including
adolescent girls and young
teenage women, may be really
charmed and touched by WHAT A
GIRL WANTS, a funny, light and
heart-warming story about a
teenager trying to reunite
with her father. Anglophiles,
however, may be uncomfortable
with some of the story's
middle parts, where the movie
contains some Romantic notions
about tradition, society,
patriotism, and individual
freedom. The story focuses on
American teenager Daphne
Reynolds (played by Amanda
Bynes), who often accompanies
her musician mother, Libby
(played by Kelly Preston), to
work as a food server for
wedding parties. At every
wedding, Daphne watches
wistfully during the
father-daughter dance, wishing
that she knew her father, and
that some day he would dance
this dance with her. Daphne's
father is Lord Henry Dashwood
(Colin Firth), a gentleman
living far away in London who
is running for a high
political office in the House
of Commons. He doesn't even
know he has a daughter. He is
engaged to a pretentious,
snobby woman, Glynnis, and has
an equally pretentious, snobby
step-daughter-to-be. Daphne
decides she must go and find
her father, so when she turns
18, she takes a trip to
England. She finds a humorous
way to get into the Dashwood
mansion, where she introduces
herself to her father, her
grandmother and several
soon-to-be-step-folks. Her
father is stunned, and his
entourage is appalled. After
all, Lord Dashwood is the only
scandal-free candidate running
for office! Henry confesses
that he and Libby were once
married in a questionable
tribal ceremony in Morocco,
but that his wife mysteriously
left him soon thereafter when
they returned to England. A
flashback shows a younger
version of the devious father
of Glynnis, who has political
ambitions, convincing Libby
that her marriage to Henry
will not work. In the present,
Glynnis assures everyone that
Arabian tribal marriages
aren't real marriages, and the
child is probably not his.
"Why does she have my eyes,
then?" the father asks. The
grandmother is clearly crazy
about Daphne, but she warns
her, "No hugs, please. I'm
British. We only show
affection to dogs and
horses." Henry invites Daphne
to a fancy dress show, where
the entire royal family will
be in attendance, but her
soon-to-be evil stepsister
tricks Daphne into wearing
something completely
inappropriate, and a strange
twist soon has her modeling on
the runway and falling into
Prince Charles' lap! After
several more such botched
parties, Lord Dashwood has a
serious talk with his daughter
about changing. He shows her
the "hall of Dashwoods," a
family portrait collection of
all the family members
throughout the centuries, each
having sacrificed a limb or
two for the sake of duty.
Daphne vows to change, and so
to become a true, well-behaved
Brit, befitting the Dashwood
name. A snag occurs, however,
when she begins falling for a
cute musician, who is not at
all the society type that
looks good in newspapers. Soon
everyone must choose between
duty and appearances or love
and family. WHAT A GIRL WANTS
is a sometimes funny, zany,
tender movie. It strikes a
chord as it speaks to the
heart of one thing that every
daughter truly wants and
needs, which is a caring
father who puts her
first. WHAT A GIRL WANTS falls
along the lines of THE
PRINCESS DIARIES in some of
its tone, but the message in
WHAT A GIRL WANTS is not as
positive because of its mixed
nature. Whereas PRINCESS
DIARIES shows how duty, honor,
family, patriotism, and
individual freedom may be
reconciled, this movie does
not. For instance, although it
lauds family, fatherhood,
parental love, and
unselfishness, it also attacks
duty and tradition. For
example, the movie mocks the
patriotism in Henry's English
family, perhaps in an attempt
to subtly attack notions of
British imperialism. Also, one
long bonding sequence between
Daphne and Henry has Henry and
Daphne escaping the
constrictions of their social
obligations, with Henry
eventually getting a small
tattoo. Christian and Jewish
families who take seriously
the Bible's command not to
mutilate or tattoo your body
would not be amused. WHAT A
GIRL WANTS is basically a
fairytale. Much of the humor
rests on the British-American
differences and, of course,
it's the Americans that win.
The stuffy grandmother warms
up, the snotty boy gets his
comeuppance, the haughty lady
with the dog takes a new
perspective, the ugly fat twin
debs become attractive, all
because Amanda, unaware of the
social restrictions of British
society, has taken a
"refreshing" unembarrassed
approach to certain
situations. The poor but
artistic girl who goes in
search of her father (who of
course is fabulously rich and
handsome and lives in a
palace) gets to live the life
of a princess and socialize
with the Queen, then realizes
what is really important. This
movie pits American ideals of
freedom and democracy, of "be
yourself" against English
ideals of what is proper in
civilized society. As any
fairytale, it literally ends
with "and they lived happily
ever after." Of course, the
American ideals win out. Our
characters have shed their
formal clothes, now all in
jeans, they carry their own
food to the al fresco lunch,
and the butler sits down to
eat with them. Thus, WHAT A
GIRL WANTS contains some
unresolved Romantic notions of
"freedom" that naturally
conflict with notions like
duty, honor and patriotism.
The sacred Christian roots of
Western Civilization, however,
including the history of the
United States and Great
Britain, not only teaches us
how duty, honor, family,
patriotism, and individual
freedom may be reconciled, but
also how faithfulness to God
can be carried out without
destroying one's duty to
family and country. It also
shows us how we can uphold
notions of liberty without
sacrificing our duty to family
and country. WHAT A GIRL WANTS
says that love and family
trump duty and honor. This can
be a positive message, but it
is hoped they don't blind
people to the many benefits
that can come from duty,
honor, tradition, and love of
country. This movie is correct
in saying that, if Henry truly
loved Libby, he would have
searched for her when she ran
away. Also, the movie is
correct that fathers have an
important duty to nurture
their children. However, the
movie is wrong to imply that
these moral responsibilities
necessarily conflict with
traditional ideas concerning
one's duty toward society,
tradition and country. In the
final analysis, however, WHAT
A GIRL WANTS is not
anti-British, nor
anti-great-exploits, but
rather it asks and answers the
right question, "How can you
continue to sacrifice life and
limb for your country and yet
fail to see that the most
precious things worth pursuing
and fighting for are right
under your nose?" Please
address your comments
to: Barry M. Meyer,
Chairman/CEO Warner Bros.,
Inc. 4000 Warner
Blvd. Burbank, CA
91522-0001 Phone: (818)
954-6000 Website:
www.movies.warnerbros.com

Rating: PG

Runtime: 100 minutes

Address Comments To:

Content:

(C, B, Ro, AP, L, V, N, AA, D, M) Light Christian worldview with moral elements lauding family, fatherhood, parental love, and unselfishness as well as iconoclastic Romantic sentiments expressed toward traditions, society and "freedom," plus reference to Arab "tribal" wedding ceremonies, and patriotism is lightly mocked, perhaps in an attempt to attack notions of British imperialism; one light obscenity, one strong profanity, and six light exclamatory profanities such as "Oh, my God" and "Dear God"; violence is slapstick and includes a push into water, a chandelier falling onto a dance floor, a motorcycle messing up a party, etc.; no sex but snotty male teenager grabs girls' rear ends; nude statue and nude painting; alcohol use and woman appears drunk at wedding party; brief smoking; and, lying and betrayal are rebuked, but small tattoos are not rebuked.

GENRE: Comedy

C

B

Ro

AP

L

V

N

AA

D

M

Summary:

In WHAT A GIRL WANTS, Daphne (Amanda Bynes) sets off to find her estranged father, London's Lord Dashwood, and must soon decide whether or not she has the ability and the will to become a proper society girl. This movie has sweet, humorous, uplifting moments, but they are very slightly marred by some iconoclastic notions of "freedom" and society.

Review:

Many moviegoers, including adolescent girls and young teenage women, may be really charmed and touched by WHAT A GIRL WANTS, a funny, light and heart-warming story about a teenager trying to reunite with her father. Anglophiles, however, may be uncomfortable with some of the story's middle parts, where the movie contains some Romantic notions about tradition, society, patriotism, and individual freedom.

The story focuses on American teenager Daphne Reynolds (played by Amanda Bynes), who often accompanies her musician mother, Libby (played by Kelly Preston), to work as a food server for wedding parties. At every wedding, Daphne watches wistfully during the father-daughter dance, wishing that she knew her father, and that some day he would dance this dance with her.

Daphne's father is Lord Henry Dashwood (Colin Firth), a gentleman living far away in London who is running for a high political office in the House of Commons. He doesn't even know he has a daughter. He is engaged to a pretentious, snobby woman, Glynnis, and has an equally pretentious, snobby step-daughter-to-be.

Daphne decides she must go and find her father, so when she turns 18, she takes a trip to England. She finds a humorous way to get into the Dashwood mansion, where she introduces herself to her father, her grandmother and several soon-to-be-step-folks. Her father is stunned, and his entourage is appalled. After all, Lord Dashwood is the only scandal-free candidate running for office!

Henry confesses that he and Libby were once married in a questionable tribal ceremony in Morocco, but that his wife mysteriously left him soon thereafter when they returned to England. A flashback shows a younger version of the devious father of Glynnis, who has political ambitions, convincing Libby that her marriage to Henry will not work. In the present, Glynnis assures everyone that Arabian tribal marriages aren't real marriages, and the child is probably not his. "Why does she have my eyes, then?" the father asks. The grandmother is clearly crazy about Daphne, but she warns her, "No hugs, please. I'm British. We only show affection to dogs and horses."

Henry invites Daphne to a fancy dress show, where the entire royal family will be in attendance, but her soon-to-be evil stepsister tricks Daphne into wearing something completely inappropriate, and a strange twist soon has her modeling on the runway and falling into Prince Charles' lap! After several more such botched parties, Lord Dashwood has a serious talk with his daughter about changing. He shows her the "hall of Dashwoods," a family portrait collection of all the family members throughout the centuries, each having sacrificed a limb or two for the sake of duty. Daphne vows to change, and so to become a true, well-behaved Brit, befitting the Dashwood name.

A snag occurs, however, when she begins falling for a cute musician, who is not at all the society type that looks good in newspapers. Soon everyone must choose between duty and appearances or love and family.

WHAT A GIRL WANTS is a sometimes funny, zany, tender movie. It strikes a chord as it speaks to the heart of one thing that every daughter truly wants and needs, which is a caring father who puts her first.

WHAT A GIRL WANTS falls along the lines of THE PRINCESS DIARIES in some of its tone, but the message in WHAT A GIRL WANTS is not as positive because of its mixed nature. Whereas PRINCESS DIARIES shows how duty, honor, family, patriotism, and individual freedom may be reconciled, this movie does not. For instance, although it lauds family, fatherhood, parental love, and unselfishness, it also attacks duty and tradition. For example, the movie mocks the patriotism in Henry's English family, perhaps in an attempt to subtly attack notions of British imperialism. Also, one long bonding sequence between Daphne and Henry has Henry and Daphne escaping the constrictions of their social obligations, with Henry eventually getting a small tattoo. Christian and Jewish families who take seriously the Bible's command not to mutilate or tattoo your body would not be amused.

WHAT A GIRL WANTS is basically a fairytale. Much of the humor rests on the British-American differences and, of course, it's the Americans that win. The stuffy grandmother warms up, the snotty boy gets his comeuppance, the haughty lady with the dog takes a new perspective, the ugly fat twin debs become attractive, all because Amanda, unaware of the social restrictions of British society, has taken a "refreshing" unembarrassed approach to certain situations. The poor but artistic girl who goes in search of her father (who of course is fabulously rich and handsome and lives in a palace) gets to live the life of a princess and socialize with the Queen, then realizes what is really important. This movie pits American ideals of freedom and democracy, of "be yourself" against English ideals of what is proper in civilized society. As any fairytale, it literally ends with "and they lived happily ever after." Of course, the American ideals win out. Our characters have shed their formal clothes, now all in jeans, they carry their own food to the al fresco lunch, and the butler sits down to eat with them.

Thus, WHAT A GIRL WANTS contains some unresolved Romantic notions of "freedom" that naturally conflict with notions like duty, honor and patriotism. The sacred Christian roots of Western Civilization, however, including the history of the United States and Great Britain, not only teaches us how duty, honor, family, patriotism, and individual freedom may be reconciled, but also how faithfulness to God can be carried out without destroying one's duty to family and country. It also shows us how we can uphold notions of liberty without sacrificing our duty to family and country. WHAT A GIRL WANTS says that love and family trump duty and honor. This can be a positive message, but it is hoped they don't blind people to the many benefits that can come from duty, honor, tradition, and love of country.

This movie is correct in saying that, if Henry truly loved Libby, he would have searched for her when she ran away. Also, the movie is correct that fathers have an important duty to nurture their children. However, the movie is wrong to imply that these moral responsibilities necessarily conflict with traditional ideas concerning one's duty toward society, tradition and country. In the final analysis, however, WHAT A GIRL WANTS is not anti-British, nor anti-great-exploits, but rather it asks and answers the right question, "How can you continue to sacrifice life and limb for your country and yet fail to see that the most precious things worth pursuing and fighting for are right under your nose?"

Please address your comments to:

Barry M. Meyer, Chairman/CEO

Warner Bros., Inc.

4000 Warner Blvd.

Burbank, CA 91522-0001

Phone: (818) 954-6000

Website: www.movies.warnerbros.com

In Brief: