starring Amanda Bynes, Colin Firth, Kelly Preston, Anna Chancellor
screenplay by Jenny Bicks and Elizabeth Chandler, based on the play "The Reluctant Debutante" by William Douglas Home
directed by Dennie Gordon
by Walter Chaw A cynical play for the babysitting money of a very particular demographic, What a Girl Wants is a by-the-numbers Cinderella story that's not only a carbon copy of The Princess Diaries but also the umpteenth iteration of a distaff preteen fantasy that equates irreverent immaturity with being true to one's own self. It takes potshots at the stuffiness of the British in the same way that urban comedies take aim at the stuffiness of white folks, seeking to loosen up the awkward unfortunates with a pathetic dance sequence. And it offers Nickelodeon phenom Amanda Bynes yet another opportunity to try on a bunch of outfits in not one, but two dress-up montages. The film believes that it knows what will please twelve-year-old girls (and their thirty-five-year old fathers), and it may well indeed, but the problem with What a Girl Wants is that there's precious little honour in satisfying the basest needs of its audience with the equivalent of leftover porridge.