“Princess Protection Program” is another example of Disney creating parts for their Disney Channel stars. Selena Gomez from “Wizards of Waverly Place” and Demi Lovato from “Sonny With a Chance” star in this family film about two girls who couldn’t be more opposite, but who - despite all their differences - find a lasting friendship. Gomez and Lovato have each been in Disney Channel original movies (“Another Cinderella Story” and “Camp Rock”) but this is their first Disney film together, and despite a rather formulaic storyline, the pairing works reasonably well. While this may not be Disney’s best original movie, it’s definitely worth a look not only for fans of the actresses but for those looking for a sweet story with a happy ending.
Carter Mason (Selena Gomez) and her Dad, Major Mason (Tom Verica) lead a seemingly normal life in Louisiana where they run a small bait shop. The father and daughter have a charming relationship that is more like two friends hanging out - that is, until Carter’s dad is called off on his secretive missions to help princesses in need. He’s part of the Princess Protection Program, an organization set up by royal families in order to protect their daughters at all costs. Carter’s dad goes to Costa Luna to help rescue Princess Rosalinda (Demi Lovato) from being imprisoned by General Kane (Johnny Ray) before she is crowned Queen. Before Rosalinda is aware of what’s happening, she must say goodbye to her mother and flee with Major Mason to safety.
Carter spends her time working at the bait shop and trying to get the popular guy to notice her and ask her to the homecoming dance. Unfortunately for Carter, he doesn’t even remember her name. Additionally, the popular girls, Chelsea (Jamie Chung) and Brooke (Samantha Droke) constantly mock her for being not dressing or acting like them. Still, things seem to be normal enough for Carter, at least until her Dad returns home with Rosalinda who must now go by Rosie. Rosie must live with them in hiding so that the General can’t find her until the Princess Protection Program makes it possible for her to return to Costa Luna. Rosie and Carter are complete opposites, and it’s easy to guess where the storyline goes from here. Rosie must try and adapt to life outside of royalty and Carter must learn to be more like a princess and find her inner beauty by giving back.
The story manages to maintain interest, especially because it’s more than a fish out of water story. With the plot revolving around the possible kidnapping of the princess, the Generals attempts to lure Rosie out of hiding, the efforts of the Princess Protection Agency, and the friendship that develops between Rosie and Carter, “Princess Protection Agency” manages to be another endearing story from Disney. While the story certainly wasn’t anything completely original, it made up for that fact by casting Gomez and Lovato (who have nice chemistry together) as the leads. Lovato gives an especially charming performance as mild mannered Rosie who is willing to come to her country and mother’s aid at any cost. Overall, this is reasonably entertaining family fare.
VIDEO: "Princess Protection Program" is presented by Disney in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Picture quality was a few steps above broadcast quality, with satisfactory sharpness and detail. While the picture maintained respectable clarity and defintion during many scenes, some moments could look mildly softer.
Some slight edge enhancement was spotted in a few scenes, but the film otherwise looked clean and clear. Colors remained bright and well-saturated, with no smearing. Flesh tones looked accurate, while black level remained solid. Overall, this was a fine effort from the studio.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack largely comes from the front speakers, with the surrounds only providing light reinforcement of the music on occasion. Audio quality is perfectly average, with a bassy score and clear dialogue.
EXTRAS: BONUS FEATURES
Backstage Disney -
“Royal and Loyal BFF’s” This is a short, but sweet look at the real life friendship between Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato. This feature makes it easy to see why they were so believable as friends in the film. There’s an interview with the two together talking about their favorite things and stuff they have in common, as well as lots of behind the scenes footage, interviews with cast mates, and a look at the yogurt scene. Fans will definitely appreciate this feature.
“A Royal Reality”
A brief feature that interviews a real princess and focuses on what it means to be a princess today. Cast members comment on what they think it might be like to be a princess and what it actually takes - especially focusing on the hard work involved and the desire and need to give back. This is a nice feature especially for anyone curious about the realities of being a princess.
Music & More
“One and the Same” Music Video starring Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato
“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”
“Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience”
Disney Movie Rewards
“The Princess and the Frog”
“Hannah Montana: The Movie”
“Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure”
“Race to Witch Mountain”
“Sonny with a Chance”
Final Thoughts: Overall, "Princess Protection Program" is reasonably entertaining family fare, with fine performances from Lovato and Gomez. The DVD offers good audio/video quality and a few minor extras.
The Film B-