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In The Princess Diaries, Anne Hathaway plays 15-year-old Mia Thermopolis whose socially awkward teenage existence turns upside down when she suddenly learns that she is the princess of a small European country called Genovia. Mia's estranged grandmother, Queen Clarisse Renaldi (Julie Andrews), takes on the challenge of transforming her gawky, clumsy granddaughter into a young lady fit for the throne. As Mia decides whether to carry on the life of a San Francisco teen or step up to the life of a princess, she struggles with pantyhose, posture and proper table manners. At the same time, she finds herself struggling to maintain her close friendships and to discover the best in herself. Although no one doubted that Anne Hathaway would morph perfectly into a princess, the film (adapted from the highly popular novels by Meg Cabot) has fun putting a modern spin on the familiar fairy tale and our girls were starstruck by Hathaway's performance in her breakout performance as the teen princess.
If your family meals are anything like ours, the younger ones around the table more often resemble a pack of wild primates than descendants of royalty. After one too many of these dinner fiascoes (food on the floor, fingers instead of forks, napkins who-knows-where) we finally made good on our threats of reform and brought (well, dragged) our little monkeys to Beverly Hills Manners for a dose of plain old-fashioned manners. Princess Diaries reminds us that good things happen when manners improve, and no question that the main draw for many who attend the Beverly Hills Manners Course is the promised "5-course dining tutorial," but Lisa Gache's program also includes a delectable assortment of other topics: poise and posture, grooming, first impressions, telephone, punchbowl and party etiquette, as well the fine art of introductions. The Introductory Course culminates with the meal. One little girl reached into the water glass for a lemon wedge and started munching on it. A boy wiped his mouth with his shirtsleeve instead of his napkin, while another child ran his lips across his knife. "We don't suck on our utensils," Ms. Gache reminded, as she gracefully made her way around the table, gently pulling back slumped shoulders, explaining the proper way to eat bread, the many uses of napkins (to wipe a mouth, to catch a sneeze), the complexities of wine glass sizes, bread plate positions and the use of chargers. Aside from learning to appreciate a full place setting as a work of art, our daughter also learned what she considered a very valuable trick: how to give your host the appearance of having eaten something you don't like!
Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about this Film:
Beverly Hills Manners
High Tea in Los Angeles
Steeped In History at the Fowler Museum
Age Recommendation: six and up
Time Allotment: several hours
Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about this Adventure:
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