Making the Grades
Every birthday Daphne Reynolds (Amanda Bynes) blows out the candles on her cake and wishes for a dad. Raised by her Bohemian mother, Libby (Kelly Preston), in a small apartment in New York's Chinatown, her life is full of cultural diversity and freedom. But even for this girl who seems to have it all, the comforting presence of a father is missing.
Finally, after graduating from high school, she leaves a message for her mom and hops a Trans-Atlantic flight for London. There she plans to track down Henry Dashwood (Colin Firth), the dad she's only caught glimpses of in pictures and stories.
Lord Dashwood is a well-known political figure living comfortably in an exclusive London manor. He has just announced his plan to run for public office and is gaining support in the polls. Aiding his election effort is his assistant, Alastair Payne (Jonathan Pryce), a family friend and former advisor to his father. Payne has particular interest in Henry's success since his daughter Glynnis (Anna Chancellor) is about to be married to the handsome socialite.
But the well-heeled house is stormed by surprise when the free-spirited and often clumsy Daphne stumbles her way into their lives. Unaware that he had a daughter, Henry is taken aback. However, he is unable to turn her out despite warnings of political ruin and the displeasure of his fiancee.
In typical fairytale fashion, Daphne has to contend with a future stepmother and stepsister who make Cinderella's evil family seem like pussycats. Properly mannered and very socially conscious, Glynnis and her daughter (Christina Cole) hatch up one nasty scheme after another to send the American teen scampering home.
Fortunately for Daphne, she chances on a local musician who works numerous jobs to make ends meet. Ian (Oliver James) immediately takes an interest in the young foreigner and helps her find her way around the city. The awkward adolescent, trying desperately to fit into the English establishment, also charms Henry's mother, Lady Jocelyn (Eileen Atkins). Coming to bat for her previously unknown granddaughter, she helps temper the situation as Daphne struggles between conforming to the rules of British deportment and being true to the person she is.
Terms of Deity used as expletives, some brief sexual comments and catty exchanges between female characters are likely the biggest concerns for family viewing. Otherwise, What A Girl Wants underscores the value and importance of having two committed adults --a mother and a father --involved in the raising of a child.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about What A Girl Wants.
A Debutante Ball is a way of introducing young women of social standing to the public. Do you have any rituals, ceremonies or events that mark the “coming of age” in your family, religious or cultural background? For a brief history of the debutante ball, follow the link to www-rcf.usc.edu/~clingerm/history.html.
Although Daphne’s upbringing was rather casual, was she well cared for by her mother? Why did she feel it was important to find her father in order to understand herself better?
How did Daphne treat the family butler compared to Glynnis and her daughter? Do you think their views of social standing influenced the way they acted? In turn, what was the servant’s response to the three women?