Prince Charming is a rather silly variant on these fairytale deconstructions. You are not sure what sort of film it is from the outset. We are thrown into the midst of the (hardly serious) politicking of a fantasy kingdom (where the sets and costumes all look like they have been shipped from central warehouse). Although for a family channel like Hallmark, these scenes have some surprisingly bawdy elements the prince caught bonking in a belltower, causing the bell to ring and so on. The story then seems to turn into a talking animals fantasy akin to Babe (1995) or Cats & Dogs (2001) with the prince and his sidekick transformed into CGI talking frogs. Certainly, the idea of a story about talking frogs trying to attract maidens kisses has a certain wacky appeal to it. The film then jumps into the present-day, which allows some amusing interpolations the frog prince trying to cross the street and getting gum stuck on its foot, the two frogs getting drunk on wine spilt on the street. Certainly, Prince Charming is enjoyable whenever the two talking frog characters are on screen. Although there were a few slight implausibilities required in getting us there the notion that a kid could smuggle a live animal through US customs without being stopped, or simply that the two Mediaevals could have spent 500 years in the world and still not be conversant with modern culture.
Once it gets the two frogs transformed back into people about 30 minutes into the show Prince Charming settles into the formulaic. It thereafter plays like a standard time traveller comedy about the two Mediaevals trying to adjust to the modern world. Indeed, most of the film borrows substantially from the French comedy Les Visiteurs (1993) about two filthy Mediaevals accidentally transported into the present-day. There are the same three characters as Les Visiteurs the noble seeking his true love, the annoying comic servant sidekick and the modern girl caught up in the midst and having a hard time believing it. (To reinforce the connection, Christina Applegate was cast in exactly the same role as the modern girl both here and in Just Visiting (2001), the American remake of Les Visiteurs). The subsequent Disney film Enchanted (2007) rehashed the substance of the plot here, changing the prince to an animated fairytale princess.
The story plays out predictably. It is occasionally amiable but never particularly funny. The most amusing scene is the one where the prince becomes an actor and gets the role of Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet but refuses to be killed off during the fight sequence because it is an unbecoming fate for him. In the role of the prince, Sean Maguire has a certain dashing charm. There is also the annoying Martin Short playing the sidekick, which unfortunately brings back memories of Shorts one other venture into the fairytale spoof the ghastly A Simple Wish (1997).
Hallmarks other genre productions are: the sf mini-series White Dwarf (1995), The Canterville Ghost (1996), Gullivers Travels (1996), Harvey (1996), the Christmas musical Mrs Santa Claus (1996), Murders in the Rue Morgue (1996), the childrens horror Shadow Zone: The Undead Express (1996), the medical thriller Terminal (1996), The Odyssey (1997), the cloning thriller The Third Twin (1997), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1997), the monster movie Creature (1998), Merlin (1998), the sf film Virtual Obsession (1998), Aftershock: Earthquake in New York (1999), Alice in Wonderland (1999), Animal Farm (1999), A Christmas Carol (1999), the tv series Farscape (1999-2003), Journey to the Center of the Earth (1999), The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1999), The Magical Land of the Leprechauns (1999), Arabian Nights (2000), the modernised Hamlet (2000), Jason and the Argonauts (2000), the mini-series The 10th Kingdom (2000) set in an alternate world where fairy-tales are true, the medical thriller Acceptable Risk (2001), The Infinite Worlds of H.G. Wells (2001), Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story (2001), The Monkey King/The Lost Empire (2001), My Life as a Fairytale: Hans Christian Andersen (2001), Snow White (2001), the series Tales from the Neverending Story (2001), the fantasy adventure Voyage of the Unicorn (2001), the Sherlock Holmes film The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire (2002), Dinotopia (2002), The Hound of the Baskervilles (2002), the Christmas film Mr St. Nick (2002), the Christmas film Santa Jr (2002), Snow Queen (2002), the modernised A Carol Christmas (2003), Children of Dune (2003), the American Indian legends mini-series Dreamkeeper (2003), the childrens monster film Monster Makers (2003), Angel in the Family (2004), A Christmas Carol (2004), Earthsea (2004), 5ive Days to Midnight (2004) about forewarning of the future, Frankenstein (2004), King Solomons Mines (2004), the Christmas film Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus (2004), Dinotopia: Quest for the Ruby Sunstone (2005), Hercules (2005), the thriller Icon (2005), Meet the Santas (2005), Mysterious Island (2005), the disaster mini-series Supernova (2005), The Curse of King Tuts Tomb (2006), the disaster mini-series The Final Days of Planet Earth (2006), Merlins Apprentice (2006), the bird flu disaster mini-series Pandemic (2006), the disaster mini-series 10:15 Apocalypse (2006), the psychic drama Carolina Moon (2007), the psychic drama Claire (2007) and the ghost story Something Beneath (2007).
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