This tired sequel to the surprise 2001 hit—a pleasing light comedy about a gawky American girl who turned out to be heir to the throne of a European principality—brings the rechristened Princess Mia from San Francisco to her true home, Genovia. There she will assume the throne when she turns 21. The appealing Hathaway hasn't changed from the first movie. Fawnlike with bursts of clumping athletic vigor, she looks like Julia Roberts with a hint of Liza Minnelli in the lips and soft eyes. But director Garry Marshall made an awful mistake bringing Genovia to life. The palace looks like an inferior luxury hotel catering to business groups: flocked wallpaper, murals of village scenes, cramped reception areas. Couldn't the parliament arrange a Trading Spaces deal with some prettier little country—say, Monaco?
The movie passes muster as a romantic fantasy for girls, especially when Mia gets caught up in a political fight for her title. Will she secure the crown by settling for an arranged marriage with a nice British lord (Callum Blue)? Or will she risk everything to date the boy she loves, a local royal who happens to be her rival for the throne (Pine, louche in a nonthreatening O.C. kind of way)? Grown-ups have Julie Andrews, once again starchy yet maternal as the queen, and the occasional odd joke. My hopes rose at the beginning when a guest at a royal fete declared, "I hope they serve string cheese." Beyond that, it's mostly those hideous Genovian postcards. (G)