In order to put this into context, I need to give you some information. Despite my slightly bolshie reputation, I am a bit of a softy, the Mr Fluffy of Jasmine Kyle’s world. I’m a sucker for well crafted romantic films, and despite my advancing years I have a very deep liking for teen movies. I think John Hughes to be little short of a genius. ‘Some Kind Of Wonderful’ is one of my favourite films of all time. I snivel like a child. Given my hardnosed online persona, it’s a bit of a redface job.
The key to a good romantic film is that you know the ending, you know how the plot will get you there, you know it’s all going to go badly wrong, then you know it will all go lovely and right. You know all that, but you suspend belief and settle back for the ride.
Hence my thorough enjoyment of ‘What A Girl Wants.’ Imagine ‘Love Actually’ running headlong into ‘Yes Minister.’ It’s a straight up and down romcom, but it’s taken out of the ordinary by some great casting. Amanda Bynes is just right as Daphne, illegitimate offspring of an English landed gentry; she’s sort of pretty, but not too much, and very sassy having been raised in Chinatown in NYNY. Colin Firth, as her unknowing Brit father, Sir Henry Dashwood, reprises a role he has pretty well cornered, the well meaning, slightly bumbling toff with a heart of gold. Anna Chancellor, who had a similar part to the one in WAGW in ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’, is majestically viperous. Just as a bonus you get Jonathan Pryce as the Svengali’u’Like Alistair Payne, trying to get dragged politically uphill by Dashwood. A nice performance too from Eileen Atkins as Henry’s lovably repressed mother (‘I’m English. We only show affection to dogs and horses’), and a blindingly funny performance from James Greene as the rather Daphne-smitten butler, Percy. The clay pigeon shooting episode had me snorting with laughter. Then you get Sylvia Sims as Princess Charlotte. It really doesn’t get much better for an ensemble film, does it?
It’s all utterly predictable, I freely admit that, you know that Daphne will chuck some hooray in the Thames at Henley, she’ll try unsuccessfully to conform to help her dad, all of that stuff. Not one surprise, not a single one. But it’s played with enormous charm, and was hugely likeable, one of those films you can’t help yourself smiling at. A couple of hours well spent, I feel. Because it’s sweet without being sugary. I really liked this.