Fifteen years have passed since the debut of Disney’s based-on-a-book comedy featuring two of Hollywood’s brightest stars (Julie Andrews and Anne Hathaway). The Princess Diaries premiered back in 2001, and would eventually earn a solid $165 million worldwide. “Shut up,” as Princess Mia would say.
To commemorate the 15th anniversary, Disney In Depth recognizes 15 quirky reasons to love The Princess Diaries. Why quirky reasons? Because the Garry Marshall film is full of peculiarities and oddities that are by turns charming and crazy good fun.
1. Michael’s band plays the piano with M&Ms scattered on the keys. Why sprinkle the chocolatey candy all over your musical instruments and snatch them up while playing? Why not. Two wonderful things like music and treats need not be separated. The Princess Diaries introduced us to the idea of belting out tunes with the famous candy readily available.
2. Mia and her mom live in a firehouse. If there were ever an award for “coolest film home ever,” The Princess Diaries‘ San Francisco abode may very well appear on the list. The early 20th century house, which exists on a very steep hill in San Francisco, is a child’s dream – or an adult’s dream for that matter. It comes complete with poles to slide down and all of the touches of an early 20th century firehouse. When visiting the city, I had the chance to visit the recognizable piece of architecture.
3. Mia breaks the statue’s finger. Mia’s mishaps are evident from the film’s start. Upon meeting her grandmother, Mia’s fidgeting reveals itself when marveling at the statue in the center of the Genovia consulate and accidentally breaking the finger of a statue. She tries to cover this up by placing the finger in the statue’s mouth, almost akin to a cigarette. Needless to say, this quirky moment is not limited to this scene – other guests observe the unique sight later on in the movie.
4. Fat Louie makes the purr-fect pal. Everyone needs an adorable and unconventional animal companion. Fat Louie, Mia’s “royal” feline friend, is always there for her when she needs him most. By the end of the movie, he sports a little crown of his own.
5. “Catch a Falling Star” appears many times. Make sure to “put it in your pocket,” as the lyrics indicate. This 1957 song from Perry Como was introduced to younger audiences in The Princess Diaries, and has forever remained in our heads. It’s an unusual choice in a “modern” film that featured music by Backstreet Boys and other popular bands of the era, but adds an element of timelessness (and quirkiness, of course) to a movie that generally feels like it came out yesterday.
6. Mia experiences a chilly mishap. A state dinner, very formal with all of the dignitaries in attendance and formalities, is no place for a quirky princess in training. Poor Mia takes too big a piece of the icy palate cleanser in what is one of the film’s funniest scenes, as seen below in this YouTube clip from the Disney Movies Anywhere channel.
7. Mia and Lilly greet one another in a very unusual way. The spitting handshake defines their relationship. It’s odd and eccentric, but that’s just like their friendship.
8. The school announces strange matters on their PA system. Akin to any coming-of-age film, the high school setting defines much of The Princess Diaries‘ character. Although this is a much more family friendly movie, the weird announcements that emerge feel straight out of an ’80s teen comedy.
9. The San Francisco townspeople make an unforgettable impression. From Mia’s hilarious next-door neighbor, a soap opera writer, to the kindly police officers who emerge during the trolley accident and later attend one of the royal events, the side characters make as much of an impression as the stars. They’re memorable for their whimsical personalities.
10. Mia’s school offers a frozen yogurt machine. The number of funny scenes in the film involving food go on and on. One notable moment involves Mia – whose school has frozen yogurt, which is awesome in its own right – standing up to mean girl Lana and smearing the creamy concoction all over her. You go, Mia.
11. Paolo eats cucumbers during the transformation. Leave it to the unconventional hairdresser to give Mia an extreme makeover, and also steal the show. Larry Miller’s performance is comedy gold, and he manages to upstage Anne Hathaway to a certain extent in one of movie’s funniest makeovers. At one point he crushes Mia’s glasses after her thick hair cracks his brush. Later, in a spin on the whole “cucumbers providing relaxation” during soothing sessions, he snatches up a few slices for an afternoon snack. How quirky, indeed. Reflect back on this scene during this clip from the Disney Movies Anywhere YouTube channel below.
12. Mia and Clarisse enjoy classic pier amusements.The Princess Diaries introduced viewers to Musée Mécanique, the San Francisco arcade with lots of diversions from the early 1900s. Mia entertains her grandmother, and viewers, too, with showcasing some of the arcade’s archaic and amusing games, including the mechanical arm wrestler. Who would have ever imagined that Dame Julie Andrews herself would be filmed arm wrestling this contraption? Certainly not us. It makes for a funny scene and a must-see experience in San Francisco.
13. Mandy Moore sings “Stupid Cupid.” Remember the time when the teen actress also a mega pop singer? The early 2000s was good to Moore, and her career has since expanded to include television roles and her most important Disney role: voicing Rapunzel in Tangled. In The Princess Diaries, however, she’s not the most lovable character. Yet we sure appreciate her spunk in the beach scene as part of her all-girl pop band.
14. Michael gives Mia the most appetizing pizza ever. Nothing says an “apology gift” like a tasty, cheesy pie with M&Ms in the design of the word “sorry.”
15. The movie possess a plethora of repeatable quotes. Fifteen of my favorites are featured below.
1. “You know, most kids hope for a car for their 16th birthday, not a country!” – Mia
2. “Me? A… A princess? SHUT… UP!” – Mia
3. “I have never worn pantyhose but it sounds very dangerous.” – Joe
4. “This is a non-riot hearse. If it were a hearse, there would be silence in the backseat.” – Joe
5. “Okay, I look like an asparagus.” – Mia, dressed in green
6. “If Brooke Shields married Groucho Marx, their child would have your eyebrows!” – Paolo