We are ONE ROUND AWAY from the GRAND FINALE of PT March Movie Madness! And you know what that means. It’s time for THE PRINCESS DIARIES vs. THE BREAKFAST CLUB!
Let’s hear from Rachel!
I KNEW Makeover Montage would win y’all over! But now that we’re in the semi-finals, let’s get a little deeper, shall we? *pulls up chair, sits backwards in it like your Coolest Teacher*
One of the things that I love so much about The Princess Diaries is that it gives us all the princess-y goodness we love, but it’s still a totally modern take on the whole Princess Deal. In particular, it gives us a super modern princess who has to balance obligations with Newfound Fame and her love for her friends and family, something we’ve seen play out in real life lately. (Look, I’m not saying Meghan Markle had a Dream Board with Mia Thermopolis on it, but I’m not NOT saying that.) Mia is intensely relatable because she’s not 100%, “YAY I’M A PRINCESS!” She gets that there will be changes and sacrifices, and she eventually works out how to incorporate her new life into her old without ever losing who she really is.
And that’s why I think The Princess Diaries can stand up there as The Best Teen Movie. It takes this BIG Premise (“OOPS I AM A PRINCESS!”) and then populates it with deeply human characters. We want to see Mia succeed because we like her. She’s smart and she cares about people, and she has to figure out what she wants in the midst of this big life upheaval. And while most of us have not learned we’re Secret Royalty (YET), that feeling? Trying to work out who you are and who you want to be? That is Peak Teen Realness, and being able to have that kind of realness all wrapped in a glorious confection of Princess-y Goodness gives us, to quote the poet and scholar, Hannah Montana, the best of both worlds.
And now for Peter!
Once again it falls upon me to defend a movie about misfits in a library over adventures in Europe. But I think my motley crew of 1980s delinquents is up to the task. And rather than try to appeal to your (okay my) nostalgia and deep emotions this time, I’m going to fight fire with fire, and boldly proclaim that I think the Breakfast Club actually has a better princess than the Princess Diaries.
Yes, I’m talking about everyone’s favorite snob, Claire Standish (played by Molly Ringwald). But I know what you’re thinking. Can she beat Ann Hathaway in a tiara? Okay, here’s my case: When we first meet Claire in the film, she comes off as pretty unlikable. We know the crime that gets her detention right away, and it’s a disappointing one: skipping class to go shopping. Wah-wah. She’s rich. She’s spoiled. She packs sushi as her lunch, which in the 80s was akin to bringing gold shavings and bald eagle eggs to school. And yet. And yet…
Over the course of the day we learn more about her. Her parents are divorced and they use her as a bargaining chip. Popularity is a conformist trap for her, one she wants to escape. And when the big moment comes and they’re all talking about whether or not they’ll be friends when detention is over, Claire is the only one who tells the truth. She’s just as sad about it as everyone else, but she says no. Then! Then she goes against her own truth a few scenes later to kiss the rebel stoner in a janitor’s closet. She gives him a diamond earring, symbolically casting off her class status to make a connection across the boundaries of high school cliques. She takes a decisive action to make herself a better person.
Claire shows up to detention a princess. She leaves a queen.
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