Paige Morgan is the daughter of Wisconsin dairy farmers. She’s also a humanitarian pre-med student determined to study at Johns Hopkins and travel the world with Doctors Without Borders. The ambitions of Prince Edvard Valdemar Dangaard of Denmark, however, run no deeper than drag racing and partying with “hot chicks.”
The pair is an improbable match to say the least—made even more unlikely by living on opposite ends of the planet. But their worlds collide after the heir-apparent to the royal Danish throne watches an infomercial for a video featuring grogged-up Wisconsin coeds baring their breasts. Instantly convinced the party life of the state of Wisconsin far surpasses that of his native Copenhagen, Edward bucks his royal parents and journeys to the land of the cheese-heads, hoping to ratchet up his already out of control libido.
Upon arriving at his new college-dorm home, Edvard instructs his thirtysomething aide (who joins him at his parents’ request) that he wants to conceal his royal heritage, go by “Eddie” and become just another regular guy on campus. Soon after, he spies Paige working at the campus pub and comes on to her. That meeting ends disastrously, but he finagles his way into her chemistry class and apologizes for his misdeeds. Helped by the fact that Paige needs tutoring in Shakespearean Literature, the two begin to hit it off … until camera-toting paparazzi reveal Eddie’s regal secret. Will their love survive the popping flashbulbs? Is the Cinderella dream enough to sustain love for a lifetime?
Paige’s noble goal of serving others via Doctors Without Borders stands in stark contrast to Eddie’s superficial revelry and me-centered existence. He, however, matures—learning about hard work, interdependence and true love (though he never denounces his wild side). Eddie rebels against his parents, but deep down he cares for them and eventually learns how to better respect them. By film’s end, Eddie looks beyond himself and strives to learn how to better his nation. One scene shows him wisely settling a national labor/wage dispute.
Paige is a farm girl with a down-home appreciation for family and the struggle to make ends meet. When the need arises, Paige’s friends are willing to give sacrificially to help purchase a ticket to Denmark. Paige’s mother reminds her daughter that raising a family is a good life choice. She also lectures about making the right decision about a mate.
When it looks like Paige will be the future queen of Denmark, the reigning monarch tells her she must forsake her former identity and become what she must in order to serve her people. This is true to some degree, but the filmmakers also seem aware that a person’s uniqueness can actually enrich a leader’s ability to connect with people sincerely. Eddie realizes this too, and decides it’s more important to make Paige’s grander dreams come true than to force her into a cookie-cutter, Cinderella existence.
It’s played for laughs when Eddie’s aide becomes a video game junkie after being cooped up in the dorm for a long weekend. But the scene underscores the potential addictiveness of video games.
A priest makes the sign of the cross at Eddie’s coronation.
This flick should have been rated PG-13 solely on the basis of its sexual content. An especially disappointing scene finds one of Paige’s friends expressing pleasure over having slept with a 45-year-old man during a European vacation because he was “cute.”
Eddie comes to America in search of women he believes are prone to taking off their clothes. (The video that convinces him of this features drunken collegians taking off their tops; their breasts are digitally obscured.) When he first meets Paige at the bar where she works, he asks her to remove her top for him. She sprays him with a beverage hose. Upset that Eddie—now her lab partner—has missed chemistry class, Paige heads to his dorm room to chew him out. She finds him wearing only underwear; he’s barely bothered by it and makes no effort to get dressed.
Paige and Eddie never actually consummate their affections, but only because of interruptions, not because of moral convictions. In the college library, they begin to have sex (his shirt comes off quickly and the two passionately grope and kiss), but are interrupted by paparazzi.
Assuming that Eddie and his aide are gay, a professor who sees them whispering remarks, “If this is a lovers’ thing, please take it in the hall.”
After Eddie wins a lawn mower race, a jealous and angry opponent decks him. Eddie jumps up and pronounces, “I’m gonna kick your a–.” The incident ends with a pile-on brawl.
An s-word joins several milder profanities (“a–,” “h—“). A handful of abuses of God’s name include one use of “g–d–n.”
For a PG movie, not only do sexual themes push the envelope, but there’s a lot of alcohol use here as well—sending the unfortunate message that drinking is just a normal and necessary part of college life. Paige works as a bartender, and participates in a drinking game with her girlfriends. She and friends drink champagne at a wedding. Eddie comes to the States believing inebriated college girls willingly and frequently disrobe. A song with the lyric, “I had a beer and now I hear” plays on the campus deli jukebox. Eddie and others celebrate his tractor race win with beer drinking.
Eddie enjoys racing cars side-by-side down two-lane country roads. No accidents occur, but he does have one close call. He also admits to enjoying gambling in Monte Carlo. A Green Day poster decorates his dorm room (though it’s most likely his greasy roommate’s). In a conversation about Denmark, Paige’s family members seem impressed that a Metallica member (Lars Ulrich) hails from the country.
For generations, little girls have been fed the fairytale fantasy that marrying a handsome prince, wearing gorgeous gowns and living in a big castle is the romantic ideal. The Prince & Me toys with that notion, then debunks it. Fresh off her role in the anachronistically feminist Mona Lisa Smile, Stiles appears in yet another film that challenges a long-held belief that “happily ever after” comes in a standard package. Stiles says, “When I first read the script, which I loved, I thought the writers had done some sort of research on me—that’s how amazingly similar I am to this character. Because we have so much in common, it’s that much easier to understand Paige’s psychology and why she makes the choices she does.”
In this film, however, her decision to go against the cultural grain has positive potential. It’s nice to see the Cinderella myth put in its place. After all, how many of our daughters can truly expect to be whisked off to a medieval fairyland by prince charming? It’s far more noble to nurture realistic dreams, such as raising children, improving our society or, in Paige’s case, providing medical care to needy people around the world. As the credits roll, teens are challenged to learn who they are and live out their own unique dreams.
Unfortunately, this call to follow your heart includes an invitation to drink deeply from the hormonally spiked beer mug of sensationalized college life. It romanticizes sex before marriage. And The Prince & Me finally becomes just one more film with irresponsible depictions of collegiate drinking and sexual preoccupation toned down just enough to receive a PG rating.