Picks and Pans Review: What a Girl Wants

updated 04/14/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/14/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Amanda Bynes, Colin Firth

This sticky, rather linty sugarplum of a movie is basically a cheap knockoff of the lighter, funnier Princess Diaries, but it's probably fine for young American Cinderellas.

Bynes, 17, who currently has two TV series to her credit (Nickelodeon's Amanda Show and The WB's What I Like About You), plays an unassuming teenager raised by a struggling rock-singer mom (Kelly Preston). But she longs to meet the titled British father she has never known. She crosses the Atlantic uninvited and drops in on the great lord's estate, which is inhabited by sniffing, snarling blue bloods. Will she hide her rambunctious spirit beneath a proper, wide-brimmed hat to bolster her father's burgeoning political career? Yes, and Big Ben is being replaced by a digital timepiece.

Bynes is modestly appealing, with a watchful, intelligent face and a klutzy, coltish style of physical comedy that sometimes seems more calculated than it should. Firth, as her father, solemnly eats several bowls of Cocoa Puffs. (PG)

BOTTOM LINE: An inoffensively silly Girl

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