The princess dairies

Prince of Denmark (no, not that one) woos Wisconsin girl

Friends often ask me why today's coming-attractions trailers seem to give away so much of the movie they're advertising. The basic answer is that people like to know what they're going to get if they invest in a trip to the multiplex.

And hey, this isn't a worse-case situation. There are times when you can sniff out a whole movie just from the poster!

Exhibit A for this week is "The Prince & Me," promoted with the image of Julia Stiles wearing a regal dress but somehow looking all-American anyway, with an expression that's both bored and spunky. Near her stands a dashing chap in fancy dress, smiling with pleasure at having landed such a perky girl. And there, in a nutshell, is the picture.

Stiles plays Paige, an American premed student whose studies are knocked for a loop when the Danish crown prince (Luke Mably) enrolls incognito at her college. He calls himself Eddie, and he's gotten the unlikely notion that Wisconsin girls are the loosest and liveliest the USA has to offer.

His desires turn serious when he falls for Paige, loses his anonymity, and entices her into dropping her med-school dreams for married life in Denmark, where she'll become queen when the ailing king bestows his title on her new husband.

That's not quite the entire story. There's also the question of whether the present sovereigns (played by James Fox and Miranda Richardson, two experienced pros in fine form) will accept the idea of Eddie putting a commoner near the top of Europe's oldest continuous monarchy. What matters most, though, is whether Paige and Eddie will stay together despite their different backgrounds - and the different preferences of the people around them.

All this is as corny as can be, which you probably guessed the first time you saw that poster.

But it's also quite appealing, thanks to good-humored acting and to Martha Coolidge's quiet directing style. She lets romance and comedy bubble up from the characters instead of imposing gimmicky twists on the story.

There are few surprises in "The Prince & Me," but take it on its own terms and you'll find it as endearing as the Prince and Princess Charming it's about.

Rated PG for innuendo and language.

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