Main cast: Amanda Bynes (Daphne Reynolds), Colin Firth (Henry Dashwood), Kelly Preston (Libby Reynolds), Anna Chancellor (Glynnis Payne), Oliver James (Ian Wallace), Tom Harper (Edward), Jonathan Pryce (Alistair Payne), and Eileen Atkins (Jocelyn Dashwood)
Director: Dennie Gordon
Okay, let’s face it: only two types of people will watch this movie – teenage girls barely weaned on Louise Rennison and Meg Cabot young adult novels and their mothers or elder sisters who will watch Colin Firth in anything, even if the man shows up in his first scene wearing a horrible curly wig.
Daphne Reynolds, your average sixteen-year-old all-American girl, leads a pretty happy life. Her mother Libby is a third-rate wedding singer that massacres Belinda Carlisle and Diana Ross anthems for a living, and Daphne occasionally looks cute in the waitress uniform as she helps her mother out. But she misses one thing in her life, and that’s a Daddy. Libby married Henry Dashwood somewhat informally seventeen years ago in a courtship best described as Lawrence of Arabia’s Heterosexual Love Story, but alas, she’s a third-rate singer and he’s the son of old English money. She decides to leave for his own good. He doesn’t chase after her. So much for true love.
Never fear. So the ever-perky Daphne tracks her father down and surprises him. He takes her in, and Daphne, being Daphne, soon turns those snooty haw-haw English posh tossers around with her Happy Free-Dancing Perky-Whee-Perkier ways. She even finds some romance with a local musician boy. Now all she needs is to bring her parents back together. But oh, Daddy is going to marry the snooty and haughty Glynnis Payne and further his political ambitions. What to do?
If you have to ask, you obviously haven’t seen The Parent Trap or any of the six thousand movies of this sort starring the Olsen twins or some other ghastly and perky smiley young girls on Disney, Lifetime, and other channels. There’s nothing in this movie that hasn’t been done to death before, and there’s nothing extraordinary in this one to distinguish it from those either.
What a Girl Wants is formulaic and safe, and it lacks the bounce in the acting and scripting departments to keep me interested for long. No, not even Colin Firth. I never find him attractive and his tendency to impregnate his co-stars (I sincerely hope he doesn’t do it in this particular instance!) kills what little of my interest in that surly-faced fellow. No thanks, I’ll stick to the yummier Colin – Colin Farrell.