What a Girl Wants (2003)

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Released 7-Oct-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romantic Comedy Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Amanda Bynes (Actor)
Audio Commentary-Dennie Gordon(Dir),Jenny Bicks& Elizabeth Chandler (Writers)
Featurette-Fashion and Etiquette 101
Additional Footage
Theatrical Trailer
Listing-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 100:39
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Dennie Gordon

Warner Home Video
Starring Amanda Bynes
Colin Firth
Kelly Preston
Eileen Atkins
Anna Chancellor
Jonathan Pryce
Christina Cole
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $39.95 Music Rupert Gregson-Williams

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    What A Girl Wants stars Amanda Bynes, best known for her self-titled show on American (and Australian pay) television. There is no doubt that Ms Bynes is a very talented performer, and has a lot of potential - some of which is realised in this big screen outing. The film has a fairly obvious story with no real surprises, but also some gentle (and some plain slapstick) humour scattered about its not inconsiderable running length. From the opening minutes, the conclusion is in little doubt, but the journey to the final reel still presents some well-acted fun for its intended (pre-teen girl) audience.

    Daphne Reynolds (Bynes) is the love child of a free-spirited American musician, Libby (Kelly Preston), and British aristocrat Henry Dashwood (Colin Firth), who meet in the deserts of Morocco. After a Bedouin "wedding", the adults return to the UK, where the young American turns out to be exactly the opposite of what Henry's snooty parents have in mind for their son. Through the machinations of family advisors, Libby is sent packing and Henry is told that she simply abandoned him.

    After wishing to see her father for the past seventeen birthdays, Daphne decides to take her fate into her own hands and travels to the UK to meet her father for herself. Needless to say, the energetic young lady, raised above a restaurant in Chinatown experiences a culture shock when she gatecrashes polite upper-class British society. The film follows the trials and tribulations of the energetic Daphne and the politician Henry as they try to come to terms with each other. This is not made any easier by the presence of Henry's social climbing fiancé Glynnis (Anna Chancellor), her Machiavellian father Alistair (Jonathan Pryce) and her spoiled daughter Clarissa (Christina Cole). Before we reach the all-too-predictable final act, there will be laughter, tears, deception and broken hearts aplenty.

    This is a basic "fish out of water" tale, with a none-too-subtle moral for the viewer - "why try so hard to fit in when you were born to stand out"? The acting is capable throughout, with Firth, Preston and Pryce following along with the trite screenplay nicely whilst allowing plenty of room for Bynes to strut her stuff. The characters are all a little obvious and the script overplays the differences between the British caricatures and the American caricatures rather too much for my liking. Whilst it is heavily derivative (Parent Trap, Cinderella, Princess Diaries) and isn't going to win any Oscars, this movie does have a positive message about self-worth for pre-teen girls and will provide a pleasant couple of hours entertainment without causing any offence. For parents, despite the occasional mawkish scene (such as the group dance around 49:30), thanks to the presence of Firth and Preston it can be enjoyed without having to be endured.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    The video quality of this transfer is good. It is presented 16x9 enhanced in a ratio of 2.40:1, which is presumably matted down from the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1.

    The overall transfer, whilst generally fine, does suffer from some occasional minor pixelization from time to time, but this is never sufficient to be a major distraction. Overall sharpness of the image is fine, and there are one or two scenes (at the boating pond for example) where the images looks very crisp indeed.

    The film is generally shot in a daylight setting, but where needed black levels are deep and solid, with a reasonable level of shadow detail evident. Low level noise was not an issue. The colours are well saturated, bright and vivid throughout, with some striking cerise and red in the opening wedding scenes. Colour bleed is never a problem. Skin tones are nicely natural for the duration.

    There are no major MPEG artefacts, except the slightly distracting pixelization mentioned earlier and a hint of low level macro blocking in some of the backgrounds. Mild edge enhancement is present throughout (for example the halo around Bynes at 8:42 or the jackets at 14:18) but is not significant enough to become annoying. There is a mild shimmer evident in the early desert scenes but overall aliasing is insignificant.

    The transfer has a very few minor film artefacts, which crop up as fleeting white specks from time to time, but only for a frame or two at a time. Overall it is a very clean print, as might be expected for such a recent movie.

    The standard English subtitles are well timed and legible. They do drop the odd word or minor phrase, but are perfectly serviceable.

    This disc is single sided and dual layered but I could not spot the layer change on my system.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The overall audio transfer is good, and is clean and clear at all times.

    The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is encoded at 448 kbps. It has no audible pops or dropouts with very clear dialogue which is never overpowered by the numerous musical numbers. The audio sync was fine throughout, with only one lapse noticed at 34:21 as "Prince Charles" speaks.

    The original music is credited to Rupert Gregson-Williams (Thunderpants). It is overall an unremarkable score, with the frequent pop songs making much more impact. As Libby frequently performs at weddings and the like, it has to be said that Kelly Preston, whilst not a dreadful singer, should not give up her day job.

    The soundstage is surprisingly enveloping for a light romantic comedy. Dialogue always sounds natural and is well anchored in the centre speaker whilst the surrounds are used to support the frequent musical numbers very well. There are also a few nice surround effects such as the plane at 11:07, the rain at 12:07 and the shower hose at 31:20.

    The subwoofer sees some fairly minor use throughout. Although this is primarily to support some of the musical tracks, the odd motorbike and shotgun blast (no, really) benefit from some slightly lower bass, too. This is probably about all you can expect given the nature of the film itself.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are quite a few extras present on this DVD.


    The main menu is a static photograph of Bynes accompanied by a song from the film. The options available are playing the movie, selecting one of twenty-eight chapter stops, language and subtitle selection or partaking of the following extras:

Audio Commentary 1

    Bynes provides sugary, over-excited commentary which may appeal to the target audience but which I found rather vacuous and slightly annoying.

Audio Commentary 2

    This track is slightly more interesting, with director Dennie Gordon and screenwriters Jenny Bicks and Elizabeth Chandler providing a little more technical insight into the film. I would be surprised if the typical (pre-teen) viewer of the film is likely to listen for more than a few minutes. Interestingly, they mention how much Christina Cole looks like Reese Witherspoon - a thought which struck me the moment I saw her.

Fashion And Etiquette 101

    Running for 8:38, this is presented at 1.33:1 with an audio track in Dolby Digital 2.0 encoded at 192 kbps. It covers in detail the clothes worn by Bynes during the movie and will delight the target audience for sure. Later, it reels off a list of hints and tips for how to be "refined and elegant". There are also a couple of hilarious bloopers at the very end of this segment which are sure to raise a laugh.

Additional Scenes

    Running for 1:40, three scenes are presented at 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps. They include additional footage from Morocco, Clarissa and her mother at breakfast, and Henry giving a distracted speech.

Theatrical Trailer

    Running for 1:56, this is presented at 2.35:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps.

Cast and Crew

    A single static page listing the main players and crew.

Easter Egg

    Highlighting the top of the throne on the extra features page leads to a funny screen-test of the actresses who play Peach and Pear in the film. Running for 1:11, this is presented at 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 disc appears to be very similar to the Region 4 release. The one significant difference appears to be a missing extra on our release.

    The Region 4 disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 disc misses out on:

    Unless you particularly want the interactive game (which appears to be fairly trivial), I would suggest you buy whichever can be found cheaper.


    What A Girl Wants is not very novel. It will however appeal to fans of Amanda Bynes (who does a darn good job) and to pretty much any pre-teen girl. Whilst you can guess the ending within the first few minutes, the story provides a positive message of self-worth for its target audience, without being too patronising, and that is no bad thing.

    The video quality is good.

    The audio transfer is good.

    There are a reasonable number of extra features, some of which will be appealing to the target audience - others less so.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Wednesday, September 24, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDHarmony DVD Video/Audio PAL Progressive, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX-47P500H 47" Widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

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