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Princess Caraboo (Bilingual)

Phoebe Cates , Jim Broadbent , Michael Austin    DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 214.73
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This gentle "true" fairy tale succeeds on nearly every level, becoming an intelligent handling of a tabloid story. In 1817 a young foreign drifter (Phoebe Cates, never better) sets a small portion of England buzzing that she is a royal princess from an uncharted land. This feels like a magical movie with slightly overcooked characters, such as Kevin Kline's Greek butler. The supporting cast is older than in most movies of this type--no cute actors, we have performers with chiseled features and gruff voices. Director Michael Austin's decision to approach this as a true story keeps things firmly grounded so the eccentrics are not overplayed. Beautifully filmed by the great Freddie Francis (Glory) and featuring a surprisingly rich cast (Stephen Rea, Wendy Hughes, Jim Broadbent, and John Lithgow), this is simply the best family movie since The Secret Garden. --Doug Thomas

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Is It True, Do You Think? March 14 2003
This is a thoroughly charming story. Phoebe Cates is a marvel, and puts in a terrifically nuanced performance. Stephen Rea is a perfect Gutch, a subdued rabbit of a reporter who has the journalistic sense to sniff out and test a story, and yet may not have the nerve to shake up his life in order to claim the woman he loves. Yeesh, that sounds like something out of Danielle Steele, but trust me, the story is ravishing, but not the least gushy or "rouged". Reminds me, though, that the other thing we've seen Cates in, was a Steele-ish series, and ... well, Cates is a perfectly beguiling Caraboo/Baker (so beguiling a Caraboo, it is really a shock to find that she is actually Mary Baker), which you may not expect from the sort of "potboiler" casting of this other, Steele-ish thing. Lithgow as a skeptic-don-turned-true-believer ... I am not a huge Lithgow fan, but he is perfect is this supporting role; he carries off both ends of the transition admirably. I am astonished to read that a reviewer finds fault with Kline. Both Lithgow and Kline perform with expertly-gauged restraint; in comparison, Jim Broadbent's Mr Worrall is buffoonish, but this too is in perfect service to the story. Indeed, there is a (distant) comparison to be made between Broadbent/Kline and Bertie Wooster/Jeeves ... the light-of-intellect master, and the shrewd-but-always-decorous servant. Even Kline's zealous "testing" of Caraboo in the Worralls' absence, is brilliantly measured.
The whole cast perform wonderfully; the camera-work is a delight; the story is enchanting. If you haven't seen it, why, remedy this appalling oversight immediately!
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4.0 out of 5 stars CHARMING ADULT FAIRYTALE... Jan. 1 2002
By Lawyeraau TOP 100 REVIEWER
Based upon a true story, this is a charming film with wonderful performances by a stellar cast. It tells the tale of a mysterious young woman (Phoebe Cates) in nineteenth century England, who is found wandering the countryside dressed in outlandish clothing and supposedly speaking no English. She is taken in by a kindly aristocratic family, and she gulls them into believing that she is some sort of exotic, foreign royal, Princess Caraboo.
Princess Caraboo charms all who meet her. Everyone is intrigued by her. Just who is she and where is she from? The Greek butler (Kevin Kline) thinks that she is an imposter. The aristocratic couple ( Jim Broadbent and Wendy Hughes), who virtually adopt her, believe her to be the real deal. The skeptical academic (John Lithgow), who specializes in Southeastern Asian languages and dialects and was brought in to try and determine her origin, is not immune to the charm of Princess Caraboo. Even the intrepid reporter, Mr. Gutch (Stephen Rea), who is onto something that may reveal the mystery of Princess Caraboo, falls under her spell.
Phoebe Cates outdid herself, giving a wonderful performance in an inherently difficult role that calls for speaking very little, and when she does speak it is, for the most part, to utter what sounds like gibberish. She is very expressive and totally charms the viewer. Jim Broadbent and Wendy Hughes are terrific as the aristocratic couple. Kevin Kline gives an over the top performance as the wily Greek butler. John Lithgow is outstanding as the academic and drolly funny. Stephen Rea is wonderful as the conflicted reporter, giving a well nuanced and sensitive performance. All in all, this is a perfectly delightful film, which is suitable for the entire family.
The DVD itself offers high quality visuals and audio, but offers no special features or bonus extras.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant performances, "charming" film Aug. 28 2001
Format:VHS Tape
In the early 19th century, a woman in foreign garb is found walking the English countryside. Her language is a mystery. Is she the lost princess of South Pacific island, a lunatic, or someone else entirely? This is the central question of Princess Caraboo, whose title character is wonderfully played by the alternatively child-like and proud Phoebe Cates. Kevin Kline and John Lithgow deliver very funny performances as, respectively, the suspicious Greek butler of the family that "adopts" Caraboo and a professor called in to determine whether she's a fraud. Through it all, Stephen Rea provides a quiet, consistent presence as a journalist fascinated by Caraboo's story, whatever it may really be (though Rea's hair is disturbingly similar to Richard Simmons' here). This is a good rental film, filled both with these performances and gorgeous scenes of the English countryside. And it is not without a relevant message: do we not hope that those around us may turn out to be more than they seem, so that we may either profit by our association with them or, if they turn out to be infamous, come out looking superior? A pleasant 4-star diversion.
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Format:VHS Tape
Princess Caraboo is simultaneously a wonderful fairy tale of a lost princess who survives harrowing adventures in a foreign land, and also a light treatment of a period of social unrest and class struggle in historic England.
The fairy tale is the more compelling of the two aspects, which makes this movie a wonderful film for adults and children alike. Cates' unswerving imperial manner juxtaposed with her childlike wonder are engrossing not only to us, the audience, but to the people swept up in her adventure, especially the wonderful Stephen Rea as a cynical journalist transformed by her strength and beauty.
The social commentary is touched upon only lightly and occasionally, making the resolution to the question of the princess somewhat of a letdown; we aren't really given anough information to understand how she got to where she did. (Sorry for the vagueness -- I'm avoiding spoilers, here.) However, the concurrent resolution of the problems of Mrs. Warren, the kind lady who took in the princess, is worth whatever confusion or incompleteness there might be.
Overall, this is a delightful story for all ages, which sparks the imagination and holds your interest until the very last moment.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Fun
We didn't really know what to expect when we ordered this movie, but it looked intriguing. There weren't any surprises, but it was fun to watch. Read more
Published 23 months ago by George Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars True Love has no Conditions
Princess Caraboo ran away from a life of prostitution in London pretending to be a foreign princess. Read more
Published on March 30 2010 by Anthony F. Hanania
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Family Fare
This is such a wonderful movie -- engaging, humorous, delightful, romantic, and based on a real event. Read more
Published on May 26 2003 by Lynn Magdalene
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Family Fare
This is such a wonderful movie -- engaging, humorous, delightful, romantic, and based on a real event. Read more
Published on May 26 2003 by Lynn Magdalene
5.0 out of 5 stars Charmed, I'm sure
Phoebe Cates is nothing short of charming in this unexpectedly wonderful movie. But why unexpected? Read more
Published on Dec 16 2001 by Raymond D. Farmer
3.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars for the film 3 for the DVD!
This is an excellent film beautifully acted surprisingly by Phoebe Cates as well as a wonderful supporting cast. Read more
Published on July 5 2001 by Cybele A. Baker
4.0 out of 5 stars lavish costume comedy
PRINCESS CARABOO walks a fine line between costume drama and comedy, and combines the two genres perfectly! Read more
Published on April 10 2001 by Byron Kolln
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent romantic light comedy
This is definitely not the typical Phoebe Cates fare - if you're expecting an 18th Century version of 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High', you might be disappointed. Read more
Published on Dec 3 1999 by Ian Cooper
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful story with wonderful ensemble of actors
This story of a poor British girl with limited means and a big imagination is one of my favorite movies, and always leaves a smile on my face (and maybe a few tears in my eyes,... Read more
Published on Aug. 23 1999
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