Movie Review: What a Girl Wants

What a Girl Wants Trailer

What a Girl Wants Summary

Daphne Reynolds is a 17-year-old American girl, living with her wedding singer mother, Libby, above a restaurant in Chinatown, New York City. Libby had met Briton Henry Dashwood in Morocco, and they married in a Bedouin wedding ceremony of uncertain legality. They returned to his family estate in England. His father soon died, making Henry the Lord Dashwood. Alistair Payne, the family’s aristocratic advisor, tricks Libby into leaving, telling her it is best for Henry’s duties not to know she is pregnant, then he lies to Henry, hiding the pregnancy from him and saying that Libby claimed to be leaving because she was in love with someone else.

Libby has always been honest with Daphne about who her father is, though Daphne feels a sense of emptiness without him. When Daphne graduates from high school, she runs off to London to try and meet her father. Henry has disclaimed his seat in the House of Lords to run for election to the House of Commons, hoping to eventually become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Henry is being pushed by Alistair, acting as his political advisor. Henry is engaged to Alistair’s daughter, the snobby Glynnis, who has an equally snobby teenage daughter, Clarissa.

Checking into a London hostel, Daphne meets Ian Wallace, a local boy who works there to support his dream of making it as a musician. After forming a friendship when Ian shows Daphne around London, they start dating. When Henry catches Daphne at his estate, he is stunned to learn he has a child, but his mother, Jocelyne, immediately welcomes her in, giving her a room at the estate. After confirming things in a phone call with Libby, Henry embraces the opportunity to connect with Daphne. Daphne tries to win the acceptance of her father’s social circle, but is repeatedly thwarted by Glynnis and Clarissa. In addition, Daphne has to ward off the advances of Armistead Stewart, a sleazy and arrogant upper-class boy whom Clarissa fancies and with whom Ian has long-standing rivalry. Daphne eventually pushes him into the Thames.

Daphne inadvertently wins over the aristocracy, including the elderly Princess Charlotte, whenever she interacts with them. However, Henry’s political campaign suffers due to Daphne’s flamboyant behavior, and his subsequent misbehavior with her. He asks her to assume the more dignified manner of the Dashwood lineage, after which Henry’s polling numbers quickly improve. Ian is disappointed in her new behavior, made worse when she stands him up in favor of attending an upper-class social function.

During her coming-out party, hosted by her father (who flies Libby over to attend), Daphne overhears Alistair telling Glynnis how he “got rid of” Libby 17 years earlier. When Daphne confronts him, Glynnis locks her in another room. Glynnis then asks Ian, the band’s lead singer, to announce the father–daughter dance, knowing Henry will have to dance with Clarissa. Libby frees Daphne, but when they see Henry dancing with Clarissa, Daphne rejects her new self, telling Henry she is returning to the United States. Sometime later, Henry surprises everyone by announcing that he is withdrawing from the election. As he leaves the press conference, Henry discovers that Alistair knew about Libby’s pregnancy and manipulated their separation. Henry punches Alistair in the face, then breaks off his engagement to Glynnis.

Daphne is serving as a caterer at a wedding, where Libby is the singer. When the father–daughter dance begins, Henry shows up, telling Daphne that he loves her for who she is. Daphne embraces him, calling him “Dad” for the first time. Daphne finally gets the father–daughter dance she has been longing for her whole life. Henry informs Daphne that he has brought a large apology present for her—at which point Ian appears and asks her to dance. As Ian and Daphne dance, Henry apologizes to Libby, and the two also start dancing.

In the epilogue, Glynnis marries a wealthy nobleman (who bores her to death), Clarissa marries Armistead (who still womanizes), and Alistair works on a London tour bus. Henry and Libby are legally married in a Bedouin ceremony. Daphne is accepted into Oxford and is dating Ian.

What a Girl Wants Review

Rating: 3 out of 5.

This was a cute and funny movie when it came out but looking back I can see the issues it has with how Daphne had a lack of access to her father and culture, something adoptees deal it.

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