Mia Thermopolis’ (Anne Hathaway) main ambition in life is to be invisible. The 15 year old lives with her mother Helen and their cat Fat Louie in a renovated firehouse in San Francisco. She is very unpopular at her private school, with only two friends: her best friend Lily Moscovitz (Heather Matarazzo) and her brother Michael (Robert Schwartzman).
A few weeks before Mia turns 16, she is invited to meet her paternal grandmother for the first time in her life. When she arrives at the Genovian consulate, she gets the shock of her life: her grandmother is in fact Queen Clarisse Renaldi, Queen of Genovia. Queen Clarisse (Julie Andrews) explains that Mia is now the only heir to the Genovian throne. Mia refuses to acknowledge her position and runs away from the consulate to go fight with her mother for withholding life changing information. When Clarisse visits her at her house, it is explained to her that without her acceptance to her title, Genovia will have no future ruler. The three ladies come to an agreement that Mia will take Princess Lessons, and can decide her fate on the Genovian Independence Day ball. The queen appoints her head of security, Joe (Hecto Elizando) as Mia’s personal bodyguard.
Mia’s lessons start and she meets her grandmother each day after school. She has to frequently cancel her plans with her best friend, which leads to explosions from Lilly. She finally shares the news with her after an Italian hairdresser, Paulo transforms her image and Lilly accuses her of “trying to fit in”. Lilly is obviously ecstatic, but things start going off again when Paulo leaks the information of a Princess schoolgirl to the press.
School becomes crazy for Mia, and she hides on the rooftop with Joe. But finally there seems to be some good things happening to her. Josh Bryant, a popular boy band lookalike, finally notices her, and asks her to the school beach party. There he kisses her as a publicity stunt, and Mia is further humiliated by school bully Lana Thomas (Mandy Moore) and her cronies. The Queen is furious after Mia appears in a newspaper in compromising photos. Joe points out to the Queen how unfair she was as the situation was out of control. Clarisse apologises to Mia, and their bond is stronger than before. Mia gets her revenge on Lana by messing ice cream on her cheerleader outfit at school, and the teachers are amused that Lana finally got some medicine of her own.
Mia realises that she must choose her destiny (rather difficult for a 15 year old) and plans to run away. She opens the diary her father left her for her 16th birthday, and misses the letter that falls out. Just as she wants to run away, she notices the letter Fat Louie is sitting on. Reading it, she realises she needs to become a princess. On her way to the consulate her car breaks down (in the rain) and it seems all hope is lost. Joe, who realised her intentions, saves her and takes her to the consulate to accept her position. Mia ends up with her friend Michael, who had a crush on her all along.
The story ends with Mia in an aeroplane, arriving in Genovia to take over her duties.
This movie is a serious contender to be a favourite film of all time to me. It really is a very sweet and fun film. This movie was Anne Hathaway’s first movie, and it is obvious there that she was meant to become a star. She portrays the awkward Mia perfectly. I love the movie because it really is about a young girl making difficult decisions and about the importance of being who you are.