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Just in time for the theatrical run of the sequel, Disney has released a new special edition DVD of The Princess Diaries. Unlike the previous editions, which only had the movie, the new DVD two-disc set has both wide and full screen versions and many extras. Though some of these special features are entertaining, many of them seem geared toward marketing the franchise.

A Princess Is Born

Just in time for the theatrical run of the sequel, a new DVD is available
Just in time for the theatrical run of the sequel, a new DVD is available

The heroine is 15-year-old Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway), who lives in an old firehouse in San Francisco with her artist mother. Her life changes dramatically when she meets her long-lost grandmother (Julie Andrews), who just happens to be Queen Clarisse of Genovia, a tiny European country. Mia’s absent father was to succeed to the throne, but he died recently and now Mia is the only heir.

Can this klutzy, shy teenager be turned into a beautiful, poised young woman? In this kind of movie, the answer is yes. Clarisse and her bodyguard/chauffeur (Hector Elizondo) give Mia lessons in things every a princess must know — sitting, walking, drinking tea and waving. She also gets a makeover to look the part, though she wasn’t unattractive to begin with.

The Princess Diaries follows the familiar ugly duckling story. The lessons Mia learns about self-confidence and friendship are no surprise. This doesn’t make the movie any less entertaining. The movie has enough slapstick humor to please children in the audience without overdoing it. And though it has a few too many subplots, Diaries never strays too far from the main story.

DVD Extras

The most interesting feature on disc one is eight deleted scenes. Each is introduced by director Garry Marshall and followed by his explanation of why they were cut. Many of these scenes are humorous, but he did make the right decision in removing them.

A New Princess is a typical behind-the-scenes featurette, giving a glimpse of the filming of the movie, along with snippets of interviews with the actors, director and producers. Also on this disc are two music videos of songs from the movie.

The second disc features two separate commentary tracks. One is with Andrews and Hathaway, who seem to be enjoying each other’s company. Their commentary is chatty, and they don’t have much to say beyond effusive praise for everyone who worked on the movie. The other track features Marshall, who has more to say about the production. Though he often simply narrates what is happening on screen, he is an entertaining talker. During a scene in which Mia is learning proper table etiquette, he digresses on his own poor table manners growing up. It doesn’t have much to do with the movie, but it’s fun to listen to.

The DVD-Rom features on disc two seem to be intended to remind girls of the movie’s title, such as printable stationery and links to Disney websites. This section also has a gallery of behind-the-scenes photos and publicity stills. These features were unaccessible on a Mac.

Picture and Sound

Like most Disney DVDs, both the picture and surround sound on these discs are of high quality. The sound of the music videos particularly stands out. Viewers can choose between wide or full screen versions although putting both in a two-disc set seems to be an excuse to raise the price.