5 Enchanting Live-Action Princess Movies You Must See
By Lili Baehr, Movieguide® Co-Founder
Granted, princesses may be out of favor with the politically correct. It’s more fashionable now to have female superheroes who can save the world just as well as their male counterparts, but if you’re not into having your daughter take kung fu and sword fighting lessons you might want a few enchanting princess movies for the next slumber party.
I’d like to suggest five that have delighted both myself and those I have shared them with. These are not dreary dramas. These are adventures loaded with delightful moments.
- THE PRINCESS BRIDE (1987)
This gem opens with a grandfather reading a story to his grandson. The heroine, Buttercup, treats her servant, Wesley, poorly until she sees his utter dedication to her. He leaves to make his way in the world and become someone acceptable for her to marry. She hears he has been killed by the Dread Pirate Roberts but in reality, he is still alive. When Buttercup is kidnapped Wesley comes to her rescue wearing a mask. Through many trials, he manages to save her from a marriage to the evil Prince Humperdinck.
This is the kind of movie where the humor is clever and the dialogue so cute that you remember lines for years after seeing the movie. The story is interrupted several times to return to the grandfather and grandson arguing about what just happened in the story. These segments are adorable.
- THE PRINCESS DIARIES (2001)
Every little girl has dreamed of waking up someday and discovering she’s a princess, to be treated with respect and love. In this ugly duckling turns into a beautiful swan story, our heroine, Mia Thermopolis, played wonderfully by Anne Hathaway, discovers not only that she’s a princess but that being a princess means more than what you get. It means that you start serving the people around you. The movie marked the return of Julie Andrews (Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music) to family-friendly fare. She plays Mia’s grandmother Queen Clarisse of Genovia. Much of the fun is in seeing how both Mia and the queen are transformed by their growing relationship.
- CINDERLLA (2015)
Disney’s 2015 Cinderella is a live-action remake of the 1950 animated feature. It is a beautiful rendition of the classic tale. Lily James (nice name) plays Cinderella who was raised by two loving parents who taught her to be kind. When her mother dies her father remarries and then soon dies as well. The stepmother has two daughters of her own and she treats Cinderella as if she is the household servant. Rather than being bitter Cinderella remains kind and obedient. With the help of her fairy godmother, she winds up at a ball being held for a prince being nearly forced to look for a wife. The prince falls head over heels in love with Cinderella by she leaves in a hurry because her fairy godmother’s spell is about to expire and midnight leaving her standing before the prince in rags. The movie is filled with charm, grace, beauty and it ends on a wonderful note of forgiveness.
These are not just movies for children. They’re made to be enjoyed by all ages (upper elementary and above). They can even be enjoyed by boys and men (but don’t tell anyone).
Really, it’s time to let girls be girls. God did not make women to grow up trying to become men. He made them to bring their own strengths into a family and create something wonderful neither a man or a woman can create on their own. What God sees as a woman’s strength and beauty is a gentle and quiet spirit in tune with his own. He considers femininity something FAR greater than sex appeal. When little girls at a slumber party turn ninety they should not be trying in vain to look like teenagers or trying their best to be a man. They should rejoice in being what God made them to be — as sweet as Giselle, as wise as Danielle, and as kind and forgiving as Cinderella.
- ENCHANTED (2007)
What would happen if an animated fairytale princess who sings with the birds was plopped down in New York City? This is the delightful premise of Enchanted. Amy Adams plays Giselle who gets pushed down a well by the evil queen who wishes to keep her away from true love Price Edward. The well takes her from her cartoon world into the real world of New York City. With all her sweetness and light Giselle looks horribly out of place in a busy huge American city. Giselle is very reluctantly rescued by Robert whose daughter Morgan loves princesses. Prince Edward and his knave (who is really a henchman for the queen) dive down the well in pursuit of Giselle. It’s hilarious to see Giselle bring sweetness and light to a world with little of it. Her song “How do You Know” is adorable. When the evil queen comes down to New York as well there are some scary scenes, but all and all it’s a delightful story encouraging kindness and beauty.
- EVER AFTER: A CINDERELLA STORY (1998)
EVER AFTER turns the classic Cinderella story into an imaginative, entertaining movie without magic or fairy godmothers. Danielle (Drew Barrymore) and her prince charming get a little lesson on love from Leonardo da Vinci in this update of a classic. Danielle is not just a sweet little beauty dreaming of marrying a price someday for her fulfillment in life. She’s a woman of strong moral convictions not at all frightened to share them with the prince. She’s out to change the world, and awakening the conscience of the man who will become king is a wonderful (and entertaining) way to do it. Containing a Christian worldview, it has many moral lessons and recommendable attributes.
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