Mia: Me, a princess? SHUT! UP!
Unpopular San Francisco high school student Amelia "Mia" Thermopolis (Hathaway) learns from her grandmother Clarisse (Andrews) that she's the princess of small European monarchy Genovia. Clarisse is currently serving as regent, but Mia will eventually have to rule. Mia struggles with her newfound status in every way, from learning royal manners, to navigating her high school, including managing her crush on popular guy Josh (Erik Van Detten) and dodging alpha cheerleader Lana (Mandy Moore), to her longtime friendships with siblings Michael and Lilly (Robert Schwartzman and Heather Matarazzo). Fortunately, along for the ride are security chief Joe (Héctor Elizondo) and her trusty cat Fat Louie.
While most of the core plot from the first book remains, major changes were made to some plot points and characters or some of them were removed entirely. The 2004 sequel, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, is in fact an entirely new creation: the only plot point from the books being used was Mia's mother marrying her teacher and having a baby with him. A 2-movie collection, containing both films, was released on Blu-ray Disc on May 15, 2012. The possibility of a third film has been buzzing since 2016, but would ultimately be confirmed by Disney on November 16, 2022. It is currently unknown if Hathaway and Andrews plan to return.
This film series provides examples of:
- Accent On The Wrong Syllable: The Insistent Terminology of addressing Mia as "PrinCESS of Genovia."
- Acquired Situational Narcissism:
- Downplayed and subverted; Mia struggles with her unwanted new status throughout the first film.
- The opportunity to go to a beach party with longtime-crush Josh distracts Mia from the fact that she had already promised to appear on best friend Lilly's TV show.
- Actor Allusion:
- Mia recites a line from Romeo and Juliet, as a nod to the fact that her actress is named after William Shakespeare's wife.
- In the second film, Clarisse says that she's done a lot of flying in her time. An obvious nod to Mary Poppins.
- Also in the second film, Joe—during the conversation mentioned in Tranquil Fury below—mentions that he has diplomatic immunity in Puerto Rico. His actor, Héctor Elizondo, is of Puerto Rican descent.
- Clarisse being the one to turn Mia into a lady is a reversal of Julie Andrews' star-making role as Eliza Doolittle in the original Broadway production of My Fair Lady, where she was the one being made a lady (the big difference being that Clarisse treats Mia better than Professor Higgins treated Eliza, and the reasons for the change are more politically motivated).
- Adaptational Attractiveness:
- Mia in the book isn't quite attractive as Anne Hathaway is after the makeover. The later books make clear Mia is Beautiful All Along.
- Grandmere is a chain-smoking old harridan in the books. In the film, she's Julie Andrews.
- Lilly is played by Heather Matarazzo, in the book she has glasses, is pudgy, and has a faced described as looking like a pug.
- Adaptational Location Change: The film is set in San Francisco and included quite a bit of on-location footage, while the original book series was set in New York City. This was because Gary Marshall found it a difficult bet and he did not want to shoot the film in Toronto because it was a “fake New York”.
- Adaptational Nice Guy:
- Phillipe Renaldo in the books was a Ladykiller in Love who Really Gets Around because Mia's mother refused to marry him, out of fear of being forced into the royal life. He also makes a series of bad judgments. In the movies, Phillipe was none of these things in life (though in fairness Helen actually did marry him, and they got divorced) and Mia mentions that he covered her school tuition and would send her nice presents.
- Clarisse goes from Evil Matriarch and Manipulative Bastard to a Cool Old Lady.
- While Lily is still a massive Soapbox Sadie, the movie tones her down a LOT. She's more loyal to Mia and is open about her Green-Eyed Monster tendencies, namely that Mia can create a lot of change with her status as a princess.
- Josh Richter in the books was a Dumb Blonde who didn't even realize that Mia existed until she was outed as a princess. He gets a Pet the Dog moment in the film which then doubles as a Bait the Dog moment: when Mia is struggling as goalie in soccer, he gives her the advice to try and stay calm and not be scared of the ball.
- Adaptation Dye-Job:
- Mia in the books is a dirty blonde, and has it cut short and dyed a lighter blonde during her makeover. Movie Mia is brunette with frizzy shoulder-length hair, which gets straightened during the Makeover Montage.
- Also Fat Louie, who is orange in the books but black-and-white in the movies.
- Adapted Out: A lot of characters from the books don't make it to the films, such as Mia's bodyguard Lars and some of her friends: Tina, Perrin, and Ling Su. In the books, it was mentioned that Tina's dad didn't want her featured and threatened to sue unless she was taken out.
- Adaptational Villainy:
- Paolo, who was merely Mia's hair stylist and her occasional confidante in the books, outs her as a princess for some money and the glory of having done her stunning makeover.
- The later books were not yet written at the time, so Lana Weinberger doesn't get the redeeming moments that she earns later in the series, with befriending Mia after Michael breaks up with the latter and Mia suffers a Trauma Conga Line as a result and Mia realizing that Lana is just a shallower version of Lily, in that she makes insulting remarks because she thinks she's funny.
- Adults Are Useless: Played with. While the adults at Mia's school don't punish the kids for bullying her, the adults are at least shown to be on her side throughout the whole thing. This is shown best at the beach party scene, the baseball scene, and the scene when Mia cones Lana and the teachers refuse to chastise Mia for it.
- Age Lift: Michael is the same age as his sister Lily and her twin in the film; in the books, he is older than her by 4 years.
- All There in the Script: Charlotte's last name, Kutaway.
- Amicable Exes: It is made very clear that Mia's parents divorced due to the complexity of the situation, as Helen didn't know the full expectations of being a Princess Consort to the Crown Prince. Phillipe had to leave her behind because his brother was meant to be the heir before he abdicated, not because they ever stopped loving one another.Helen: (to Clarise with a slight tear in her eye) Even though it didn't work out between us, I loved your son very much.
'’’Charlotte’’': Thank you.
- Artifact Title: The movies lose the diary format the books are written in. Mia has a diary of low plot importance, making the title technically applicable, but not really.
- Attention Whore: Josh is this in the film. He is considered a showoff, and he even goes as far as to humiliate Mia for his 15 minutes of fame.
- Awkward Kiss: Mia wants her first kiss to be an epic moment where her foot pops up like in old movies. Unfortunately, her foot gets stuck in fishing net on the floor of the shack they were hiding in, and she was with a Romantic False Lead. She gets her epic kiss once she realizes the right guy is her old friend.
- Bait the Dog:
- Josh has one Pet the Dog moment towards Mia, where he tries to give her advice on not being scared of soccer balls while she's playing goalie in recess. Then after he finds out she's a princess, he tries to use her to get his "fifteen minutes of fame".
- Lana and her friends do this to Mia. They give the latter her clothes and a nice tent for her to change into. Then the trio humiliate her by pulling down the tent, allowing the paparazzis to take photos of Mia in her towel.
- Because You Were Nice to Me: Mia chooses Michael to dance with at the ball because, in her words, "you saw me when I was invisible".
- Becoming the Mask: Nicholas eventually allows Mia to have the throne because he thinks she deserves it, and because he genuinely fell in love with her.
- Betty and Veronica: With Mia as the Archie, shy Michael as the Betty and Mia's longtime crush Josh as the Veronica.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Twice with Mia in the movie. She uses her baseball bat to hit a baseball so hard, it hits Josh's groin. The second time, Mia hits Lana with an ice cream cone when the latter insults her.
- Big Damn Heroes: When Mia is stuck in her car in the rain, unable to make it to the ball, and all seems lost, Joe pulls up in the limo and retrieves her.
- Big "SHUT UP!":
- Mia says this when Queen Clarisse tells her that she is a princess.Mia: Me, a princess? SHUT. UP!
Clarisse: (sipping tea, doing a Spit Take) I beg your pardon? "Shut up”?
Maitre'D: Your Majesty, in America, it doesn't always mean "be quiet". Here it could mean "Wow, gee whiz, golly wolly"...
- Lilly also says this when Mia tells her the same thing.
- Mia says this when Queen Clarisse tells her that she is a princess.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Blonde Lana, Brunette (and Token Minority to boot) Fontana and Redhead Anna.
- Body Guard Crush: Queen Clarisse and Joe, the head of the security service, have feelings for each other. They eventually get together in the sequel.
- Bowdlerise: In the books, Mia was a child born out of wedlock to two college grads with Belligerent Sexual Tension, and she becomes the heir by default when testicular cancer makes her father sterile. In the movies, her parents are divorced, with Helen denying that Grandmere made the divorce happen, and Philippe having died in an accident years ago.
- Brick Joke:
- Mia talks to her mother about getting her first Foot Popping Kiss. After the debacle at the beach, Mia is crying into her mother's arms and wails "my foot didn't even pop!"
- A little less harsh than the previous example, there is a moment near the beginning of the first film where Mia accidentally breaks off one of the fingers of a porcelain statue in the embassy. She tries to hide it by putting the finger in the statue's mouth. Later on, at the grand ball, two officials are admiring the statue and pondering whether or not the item in the statue's mouth is string cheese. In the second film you see the same officials wonder if there will be string cheese at Mia's birthday.
- A subtle one, also somewhat related to the beach party debacle. Right before Mia mentions the Foot Popping, her mother calls Josh a "Backstreet Boy clone". Later, when Mia shows up at school the day after the scandal, "What Makes You Different" by the Backstreet Boys is playing in the background.
- Broken Pedestal: Mia learning that she is, in fact, not the person she thought she was (and that her mother has been lying to her for her entire life) does not improve the situation at the Thermopolis household.
- Butt-Monkey: Poor Mia is constantly put in humiliating situations.
- Call-Back: Mia asks one of the dignitaries about her grandchildren, two of whom are named Lilly and Charlotte. Those are the names of the little twin girls with Jeremiah that Mia signs autographs for in the first film.
- Calling the Old Woman Out: Mia calls out her mother for failing to inform her that she was a princess.
- Cerebus Retcon: Two cases:
- First at the state dinner, Mia's clumsiness causes a fiasco that's Played for Laughs - and luckily for her everyone at the dinner finds it charmingly hilarious. But it then cuts to Mia in her room, sadly saying "I'm sorry I let you down" to a picture of her father.
- The second comes at the beach. While getting hounded by the paparazzi isn't treated as funny, it's still played light-heartedly. When Lana and her Girl Posse expose her getting changed, any humour the scene may have had goes away with Mia (who is fifteen)'s panicked "go away, all of you!"
- Chekhov's Gun: In the first film, Paolo is called in to give Mia a makeover, and Clarisse wants him to sign a confidentiality agreement. Paolo demurs and claims he knows what a secret is. When Mia goes to school later, paparazzi are swarming all over the place, which Paolo admits to being responsible for, for the sake of
- Cool Teacher: Mia's gym teacher, Ms. Harbula. Despite the fact that Mia is failing gym class due to her lack of confidence, and despite Mia accidentally clonking her on the head witha softball, Ms. Harbula keeps trying to encourage her and tell her You Are Better Than You Think You Are. When Mia starts a Self-Deprecation speech about how she can't do soccer, her teacher allows her to sub out of the goalie position so she can step back and watch. And when Mia is harassed by paparazzi at the beach party, Ms. Harbula comes to her rescue.
- Cruel Cheerleader: Lana, the school's Alpha Bitch, and her Girl Posse are all catty cheerleaders. Lily also invokes this trope by worrying that next week Mia "could be waving pompoms in my face!"
- Cucumber Facial: "Can I tell you a secret? The cucumber does nothing."
- Cute Clumsy Girl: Mia's primary "flaw" is her clumsiness. This trope is at least more justified than most uses in that she's a princess and is expected to be graceful and well-mannered.
- Damned by Faint Praise:Clarisse: You look so... young.
Mia: Uh, thank you. And you look so... [long pause] ...clean.
- Death by Adaptation: Mia's dad, Philippe. In the books, he is very much alive and only reveals to Mia that she's a Princess because he has testicular cancer and can no longer have any more kids, making the illegitimate Mia his only heir. In the movie, they kill him in order to brush past testicular cancer in a Disney movie, as well as to give Julie Andrews a more substantial role. Clarisse simply mentions a "terrible accident", implying that's how he died.
- Deceased Parents Are the Best: Unlike in the books, where Philippe is alive and makes multiple mistakes, Mia doesn't really talk about her dad's flaws and neither do her mother and grandmother; Helen says that the reason she didn't want to be a princess was that she couldn't be an artist on her terms, and Clarisse for her part doesn't judge her son for marrying Helen, at least in the present.
- December–December Romance: Joe and Clarisse.
- Everyone Can See It: Joe and Clarisse — when they announce they're going to get married, even the bishop mouths "finally". Given the first film has the Prime Minister handing Clarisse over to dance with Joe, it doesn't seem they tried hard to hide their feelings.
- Mia and Nicholas in the second film. After finding out who he really is, they have a very antagonistic relationship - at least they think so. Meanwhile, EVERYONE around them can tell they are practically DROOLING all over each other to the point where it would put Sam and Diane to shame.
- Failed A Spotcheck: Because Grandmere never made an effort to visit Mia before Mia's father died, Mia never learned that she was actually a princess.
- Femininity Failure: There's the awkward Mia, who takes princess lessons and gets a makeover to which her friend tells her that she sold out. She's still clumsy after the lessons.
- Fictional Country: Genovia, an ambiguously European Micro Monarchy.
- Foil: Josh and Michael, the romantic leads in the first film (neither of whom is relevant in the second). Josh is blonde, popular (when he tries, he can be a fairly charismatic speaker, like during the debate scene; mostly he's just an idiot, like his "Be the Ball" speech during PE class), and a showboat. Michael is brunet, plays keyboard in a garage band (the fangirls mostly show up for the guitarist), remains quiet and low-key, but has actual talent. A good comparison scene is during the band class, where Michael is playing piano and Josh is sitting right beside him: Michael has his head down, focusing on the keys, while Josh is hamming it up beside him, pretending to play the piano with his hands flying around dramatically.
- Foot Popping: Trope Namer. Mia expresses her wish to do this. She fails to do it with Josh, but succeeds with Michael. Also with Nicholas in the second movie.
- Forceful Kiss: Poor Mia gets a particularly embarrassing one from Josh at the climax of the movie while the paparazzi take photos of the two.
- Formal Full Array of Cutlery: All the meals at the first major formal dinner Mia attends are surrounded by a bunch of cutlery. Queen Clarisse once discretely reminds Mia she's supposed to eat fruits with a fork and a knife, instead of using her hands.
- Friend to All Children:
- In the first film, Mia gleefully gives a few girls her autograph.
- Mia invites orphan children to join her during Genovia's independence day parade in the second film and is later seen making plans to re-purpose a royal estate as a children's center.
- Funny Background Event: Actually, Funny Foreground Event. When Clarisse is teaching Mia how to properly wave, Joe is in front of them, pretending to drive the car. Halfway through, Joe realizes he has to leave and mimes actually parking the car.
- Gag Echo: See Big "SHUT UP!" above.
- Generation Xerox: Many of the problems Mia faces when starting out as a princess are similar to what her grandmother had to deal with (as Clarisse had married into royalty). Even Mia's marriage to Andrew (had it gone through) — Clarisse was deeply fond of her first husband, calling him her best friend, but judging by how people act around Joe when not in the presence of royalty, it was absolutely no secret that the man she was actually in love with was him. Similarly, it's clear Andrew and Mia care for each other, but not in the romantic sense.
- The Glasses Gotta GoPaolo: Do you wear contact lenses?
Mia: Oh, I have them, but I really don't like to wear them that much.
Paolo: Now... (breaks her glasses in half) you do.
Mia: (shocked) You broke my glasses!
Paolo: You broke my brush.
- Girls Like Musicians: Michael is introduced playing in a garage band to establish that he's the protagonist' (and many other girls') crush.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Lilly's first reaction to Mia's makeover?Lilly: Who destroyed you?
- Groin Attack: Played for Laughs in a scene when Mia is playing baseball and she's the one holding the bat. While Josh taunts Mia, Mia is able to hit the baseball with the bat, and the baseball hits Josh's groin. It doubles as Laser-Guided Karma, due to how much of a jerk Josh was to Mia.
- Hard Truth Aesop: Mia's appearance is a big part of becoming a princess, which is a harsh truth for any public figure. Her original look was fine for a high school student, but being in the public eye would require her to look more 'professional' (which, for women, usually means having to look like a supermodel). Lily even lists this standard to live up to as a reason why Mia should turn down the job at first.
- Hands-On Approach: Nicholas teaches Mia to shoot an arrow in the second movie.
- Hate Sink: Lana, her posse, and Josh are given little to no redeeming qualities in the film and only exist to be assholes to the protagonist. Yep, Gina Wendkos really wanted viewers to hate her.
- Heel–Face Turn: Nicholas has this in the end.
- Held Gaze: One happens between Mia and Nicholas when during their Meet Cute in the second movie and ignites the spark between them.
- Lilly in the first film hates the "A-Crowd" right up until she realizes Mia's A-crowd by birth. First, she can't stand Mia's makeover until she learns Mia's a princess, and later she gives a list of reasons why Mia shouldn't be a princess, but since she's a princess anyway, would she mind coming on Lilly's show?
- Josh tells Mia he hates phony publicity seekers, and that he broke up with Lana for telling the press she's Mia's best friend. He then goes on to invite Mia to the beach party, where he lures her out of hiding by lying to her that the coast is clear, forces a kiss on her as the paparazzi cameras flash, and happily tells them his name.
- Hypocritical Humor: Clarice gifts Mia a Genovian ornament and Mia says "Don't worry. I'll take good care of it..." just as she haphadazardly stuffs it into her bag.
- Imagine Spot:
- Innocently Insensitive: In the film, Mia happily tells Michael that Josh invited her to a beach party. She was completely unaware of Michael’s feelings for her, and the latter is heartbroken.
- It's All About Me: A lot of the conflict happens between Mia and her mother because each insists the other acknowledges her feelings first. Mia's mother justifies her decision to divorce her husband (and deny Mia her father and her heritage) in part because she refused to walk behind someone for the rest of her life, and Mia gets upset with her mother (who does -not- have a lot of other prospects that meet standards) for scoring a date from her teacher because "it would give the other kids license to mock me for the rest of my life".
- Jerkass: Lana, her posse, and Josh.
- Jerkass Has a Point:
- Lana has a good reason to be mad at Mia for (unwittingly) stealing her boyfriend. In the books, Mia realizes this and apologizes.
- Lilly is a preachy Soapbox Sadie and not above being a little hypocritical herself with Mia's status as a princess, but she was right to call Mia out for ditching her to go to the beach party and (unintentionally) breaking Michael’s heart. Even Mia realizes she blew it.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Lilly has moments of being a terrible friend to Mia, but there are also moments that show her heart is in the right place.
- Laser-Guided Karma: The day after Lana humiliates Mia in front of the paparazzi, and then goes on to insult her and her friend Jeremiah, Mia gets back at her by smearing her ice-cream cone all over her shirt in front of the entire school.Lana: Mia, you’re such a freak!
Mia: Yeah, yeah, I am, but you know what? Someday, I just might grow out of that, but you, you will never stop being a jerk!
(the crowd chants "Lana got Coned" in the background)
Lana: (turning to the principal) Mrs. Gupta, did you see what she did to me!?!
Mrs. Gupta: (sarcastically) Oh no honey! I'm sorry, I was in a very important meeting. (condescendingly) Send it out for dry cleaning.
(sits back down with the rest of the laughing teachers)
- Lessons in Sophistication: The first film covers Mia's princess education. Despite the fact that the clumsy, awkward Mia doesn't take naturally to any of her lessons and clowns her way through them, she still absorbs quite a lot, and is able to demonstrate much of what she's learned in her grand debut at the end of the film.
- Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Mia Thermopolis (Light) and her grandmother Clarisse Renaldi (Dark). Mia is feminine and likes girly things, but she’s clumsy and awkward (which is why she’s taking princess lessons in the first place). She’s not a fan of dressing girly and doing her hair and makeup. Clarisse, on the other hand, carries herself well, always dresses in the fanciest clothes, and keeps her hair and makeup well done.
- Line-of-Sight Name: Variation when the Queen invents the "Genovian Order of the Rose", after spotting a sign for Rose Street, to get Mia out of a spot of trouble with a police officer.
- Love Redeems: Nicholas' redemption arc in the second film starts when he genuinely develops feelings for Mia.
- The Makeover: Played straight in the movies.
- Makeover Montage: Mia is given a princess makeover by Makeover Fairy Paolo and his assistants. She gets another makeover from the same trio in the sequel.
- Modesty Shorts: Seen when Mia comes down the spiral steps at the beginning.
- Naked People Are Funny: Played for Drama in the film when the paparazzis take photos of Mia in nothing but her towel.
- Nice Guy:
- Michael, Lilly's older brother. He is unfailingly nice to Mia, and unlike Lilly, he gracefully accepts her becoming a princess.
- Mia herself is friendly and sweet.
- Joe, Mia's chauffeur, is a nice guy as well. He even sticks up for Mia a few times.
- Despite being stern towards Mia, Clarisse is a friendly woman and has Mia's interests at heart.
- Oh, Crap!: Paolo lets out a small shriek upon seeing Mia for the first time.
- Pimped-Out Dress: Mia's princess dresses would count merely as Simple, yet Opulent if not for the intricate embroidery.
- Previously Overlooked Paramour: Mia's longtime friend Michael has feelings for her, but she is unaware of this for most of the story. Only after she realizes that the Romantic False Lead Josh wasn't the right guy for her do she and Michael confess to each other.
- Professional Butt-Kisser: Downplayed. The Vice Principal is all over Clarisse Renaldi after she arrives at school in the first film.
- Punny Name: Charlotte's unspoken last name Kutaway is because the character frequently appears in cutaway shots.
- Quirky Country: Genovia, if the second movie is anything to go by. Apparently, marching bands with violin and accordion players are commonplace there, as are goats that moo and pear-flavoured popcorn.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: The staff members are shown to always be on Mia's side when the other students mistreat her. The gym teacher even rescued Mia from the paparazzi at the beach party.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Mia gives a brief one to Lana after "coning" her.
- Ruritania: Genovia, a fictional country between France and Spain.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Mia. She even provides the picture for the trope page.
- Shout-Out: Also an Actor Allusion - in the second movie, Julie Andrews saying "I've done a LOT of flying in my day." Also, Lilly compares Brigitt and Brigitta first to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, then to Lenny and Squiggy.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: "Lily, just because your hair sucks, get off mine."
- "Shut Up" Kiss: Mia gets this from Michael in the first film.
- Stealth Insult: Delivered during a toast to the film's villains, Baron and Baroness von Troken; (who hope that Mia fails to accept her royal heritage in order to allow for them to be next in line to rule Genovia) in which the toast went "To Baron and Baroness von Troken, may you always remain barren". (This could also be interpreted as "baron", as in may he stay baron and thus never get to rule Genovia.)
- Stern Teacher: Clarisse is this towards Mia regarding her "princess lessons."
- Uptown Girl: Mia for Michael in the first film and Clarisse for Joe in the second. Both are particularly painful examples as Michael is already pretty close to Mia when he discovers she's royalty instead of an ordinary girl. Joe has been in love with Clarisse for years but has held back from saying anything because of her devotion to Genovia.
- Unwitting Pawn: Mia becomes this when Josh only invites her to the beach party to get his fifteen minutes of fame.
- Wants a Prize for Basic Decency: Lilly in the first film.Lilly: I kept your royal secret, and do you know how hard it is to have a cable show and keep a secret?
- What Does She See in Him?: In the film, Lilly, Michael, and Mia’s mother understandably have this view towards Mia’s infatuation with Josh.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Lilly rightfully calls Mia out for ditching her and Michael to go to Josh’s beach party.
- You Do Not Want To Know: Mia to Clarisse twice over, with the second instance acting as a Call-Back.
- In the first movie, when Mia shows up wet at the event where she is supposed to announce that she is the new princess.
- In the second movie, when she arrives back at the palace after falling into a fountain.
- Your Tradition Is Not Mine: Mia's initial rejection of her royal parentage.