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The Prince and Me

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Director Martha Coolidge, who has made some better-than-average films about young women, including 1983's Valley Girl and 1991's Rambling Rose, now tackles one of the most beloved girl-fantasies of all time, and nearly makes something fresh out of it. No-nonsense farm girl Paige (Julia Stiles) meets the jerky but erudite Eddie (Luke Mably) at the University of Wisconsin. Eddie's a Danish playboy prince-in-hiding, and Coolidge manages to craft a relatively natural on-campus romance between these two (relative, that is, to other films on such topics, not relative to life, where royalty never turn into hooting Badgers or work in the cafeteria). This easy-going charm derails when Paige jumps the pond to Denmark and palace politics replace chem-lab homework. Now we're in the weary realm of a 1,001 satin-draped dreams where the milkmaid becomes a princess, but Stiles keeps Paige just sweetly clunky enough to make it bearable. And from Copenhagen, the film takes an unexpected turn, and suddenly I was rooting for Paige and her dreams in spite of myself. Too bad then that some obviously studio-mandated 30-second coda had to spoil the logical, and thoroughly modern, conclusion. Two and a half cameras

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