dir. Richard Rich
How 1994’s underwhelming animated movie The Swan Princess became a fully-fledged franchise is a mystery lost to the ages. Regardless, with A Royal Wedding they made it to the tenth instalment. The original film’s central couple, Princess Odette and Price Derek, are now having adventures in historic China alongside their talking animal friends. The film gets some credit for occasional glimpses of authentic Chinese inspiration – meticulously designed hair ornaments, a song sung in Mandarin – but fundamentally the standard white saviour tropes settle in as expected. Most of the story refuses to just make basic sense. The young and beautiful Princess Mei Li is transformed into an old woman by a sorceress; why would Odette and Derek, whose original story was based on Odette being transformed into a swan, have any hesitation in believing Mei Li’s story? Especially when the sorceress is prone to loudly shouting about her diabolical deeds at whim, providing a uniquely grating kind of comic relief. This is a harmless movie which is quite obviously for small children, but it’s hard not to laugh at the inclusion of magical tears, jerky animation, and one character’s especially dumb decision to simply take the evil, conniving sorceress at her word instead of shutting down her powers. This tenth iteration of an already-basic children’s movie is exactly what one would expect.