What a Girl Wants (2003) Movie Review

Entirely predictable, mostly silly, and wholly unbelievable. Then again, it’s a Teen Comedy and it’s called “What A Girl Wants”, so what did you expect?

Amanda Bynes, who I believe is a teen TV star by the way the studio bandies her name about (as if everyone should know who she is), stars as Daphne, the love child of American hippy Libby (Kelly Preston) and British aristocrat Henry (Colin Firth). On her 17th birthday, the scrappy teen decides to finally seek out her father, who she has heard a lot about from her mother, but has never met. Separated 17 years ago due to various soap opera-like plots, Henry has no idea Libby was with child at the time.

Seventeen years later, the sprite Daphne, infused with “girls just wanna have fun” attitude, arrives at the doorstep of Henry’s impressive estate. Well actually she climbs over the wall and he mistakes her for a paparazzi. Unfortunately Henry is a politician and is running for office, and can’t afford an unpredictable (at least to the movie’s world) American teen girl amidst high English society. And oh yeah, he’s also engaged to the scheming Glynnis (Anna Chancellor), who along with evil daughter Clarissa (Christina Cole), plots to keep the reunited father and daughter apart and other, er, evil stuff.

Of course Daphne has her own pro-Daphne crowd, including Henry’s mother (Eileen Atkins), the butler, and English lad Ian (Oliver James), who is also an aspiring musician, not to mention showcasing a strand of hair that refuses to stay down. Before the movie is over, Daphne has wowed the Stuffy English, turned Henry’s life upside down, and given her evil competition their rightly deserved comeuppance. Even Jonathan Pryce (“Ronin”) turns in an evil role as the mastermind behind Henry’s political career.

The fact is, movies like “What a Girl Wants” aren’t made for anyone over 15, or who isn’t a girl. The casting of Amanda Bynes seems to confirm this, as does the title, which is also the song title of teen skank queen Christina Aguilera, who is popular with squealing teens that make appointments with MTV’s “TRL”. Girls will enjoy many scenes of the likeable Amanda Bynes supposedly crashing the Stuffy English party, even though it’s not like she ever does anything completely out of the question, like kill someone. The most she ever does is push an amorous suitor into a pond and inadvertently destroys a chandelier.

I guess “What a Girl Wants” would work best with people who has never seen these types of movies before. As for myself, I’m still a bit perplexed why movies about Wild and Free Americans busting up the customs of the Stuffy English is still being done. Didn’t “King Ralph” already beat this horse to death already? I guess the target audience of “Girl” might think this is all new territory. I guess I’m simply the wrong demographic.

Needless to say, it’s a Teen Comedy, so everything will work out in the end. Daphne will get her dad’s unconditional love, as well as the love of her boyfriend, and she will have reunited her mom and dad and everyone will live happily ever after. Hey, what did you think was going to happen, some sort of bleak tragic ending?

Dennie Gordon (director) / William Douglas Home, Jenny Bicks, Elizabeth Chandler (screenplay)
CAST: Amanda Bynes …. Daphne Reynolds
Colin Firth …. Henry Dashwood
Kelly Preston …. Libby Reynolds

Buy What a Girl Wants on DVD