William & Kate (review)

Buckingham Palace 90210

I have to say that I’m pretty disappointed in this attempt to camp up the romance of His Royal Highness Prince William Whatever and Kate Middleton, daughter of unbelievably gauche New Money. It’s like they barely even tried. If you’re gonna do a WB-esque royal-wedding cash-in movie, you have to give it a fair shot. There isn’t even a song-and-dance number — and no, Wills’ public serenading of Kate in a pub doesn’t count. Where is the dream sequence? I fully expected to see Kate go all Buffy on some shuffling hoards of zombie paparazzi. Only in fantasy, you realize. Not for real. But it’s nowhere to be found in William & Kate. How mysterious.
Has American cable network Lifetime no sense of pride? Where is the acknowledgement of the vast and honorable history of a network that pull out all the stops to bring us the cheesy likes of The Deadly Look of Love, My Stepson, My Lover, and Cyber Seduction: His Secret Life? It’s not like they didn’t have enough time: it’s been more than five months since the actual Prince William and the actual Kate Middleton announced their intention to marry. Like five and a half months. Anyone who says you can’t possibly go from concept to script to casting to shooting to editing to scoring to marketing and all the bits in between in less than half a year is simply covering up his own inadequacies as a filmmaker.

Unless… wait… No. They can’t mean for this to be taken seriously. Can they? As actual drama. As in not campy cheesy hilariously terrible over-the-top outrageousness but as in a story with appealing characters caught in an untenable situation that engages our sympathy and keeps us in suspense as to the eventual outcome? Oh dear: I think this might be the case.

For certain, William & Kate is cheap and rushed and cheesy and amusingly bad — it’s so awful it might as well star Mandy Moore and Channing Tatum — but not in any interesting way. The film commits the most cardinal of cinematic sins: it’s boring. The funniest bad bits aren’t anywhere near long enough to justify the bizarre long pauses that could be taken as dramatic but might just as easily have been inserted to ride over the audience’s laughter… except it’s not that funny, nowhere near. Camilla Luddington as Kate is unable to maintain an English accent, which is even cheesier when you learn that she’s actually British, and that’s pretty tackily entertaining, but Nico Evers-Swindell has way too much hair to be Prince William toward the end of the film, which is unforgivable by any measure.

It’s all “inspired by true events,” in case you weren’t aware of that, but it’s so shiny and glossy and plastic that it barely registers on any level: even the main characters are barely characters and inspire us to feel nothing but contempt for them, which is supremely unfair to the real Wills and Kate, no matter how you feel about them. Screenwriter Nancey Silvers — writer of such classics as Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy and Mom at Sixteen — creates a stunningly unpleasant portrait of a guy who’s a cad, but he has to be, he’s royal, and a gal who’s forced to listen to the taunting of her friends — “Margaret’s getting married! Who’d marry her?” in front of a Kate who’s been left hanging by Wills: someone wants even unlovable Margaret, but no one wants poor Kate. Honestly, though, if we’re to take this movie at face value — which we shouldn’t — we’re left to wonder who’d want either of them.

The money lines are where most of the accidental humor comes in. “She’s hot… When did that happen?” Wills wonders as he ogles Kate at a student fashion show. “I had to attend a state dinner with my grandmother,” he mumble as an excuse for missing class. “I’m the girl he hangs out with, not the girl he brings home,” a self-pitying Kate bemoans when she witnesses Wills appearing in public with a proper blueblood. Even though “he’s just a guy,” as Kate had once informed us. Though we do learn that gosh, even a prince and a master of the universe hesitates to call the girl he fancies.

It may be Silvers who puts painful banter into the mouths of the hapless Evers-Swindell and Luddington, but it’s they who are utterly unable to do anything with it but parrot the words with no apparent sense of how juicy and deliciously campy it all could have been. Their talent — and their chemistry — is nonexistent. The Big Moments are staged by director Mark Rosman — auteur of Snow 2: Brain Freeze and many an episode of Lizzie McGuire — with clumsy indifference. When did Wills and Kate fall in love? It was while they were cleaning up after a house party at the flat they shared with a group of university friends: their hands met over a garbage bag. It’s the most romantic moment in the film… but that’s not a compliment.

Rosman deserves a lot of the blame, of course, for the actors’ unwinking delivery, and all of the blame for the movie’s shockingly vanilla approach. This is about an impending marriage into a family that is on close personal terms with the Elton John. You’d never guess that there was any connection to such fabulousness here.

Watch William and Kate online using LOVEFiLM’s streaming service.

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