No need to bother with this croaker of a movie: This “Prince Charming” reeks of summer burn-off. Director Allan Arkush does his best with the overdone frog-prince story — in the can for two years — but even Martin Short’s comic antics and a couple of computer-generated Budweiser frog rejects can’t save this TNT pic from being a royal disgrace.
It would have helped the pic immensely if the eponymous Prince Charming exuded the slightest bit of charm. British pop star Sean Maguire, whose biggest claim to fame is WB’s “Off Centre,” comes off as a Keith Partridge knockoff, while the usually capable and appealing Christina Applegate (Princess Gwendolyn/Kate) simply looks pained to be part of the ill-conceived production.
Any chance of scoring with family auds is thwarted by the whole running joke that the frog prince is really a horny toad, which leaves “Prince Charming” to founder as an extremely immature adult romantic comedy.
The story begins long ago in a kingdom far away. Prince John’s marriage to Princess Gwendolyn has been arranged in an attempt to end a bitter war. But the young prince doesn’t take such matters, or anything, too seriously, and is caught with his tights down on his wedding day. Sentenced to a frogging for disgracing the crown, the prince and his squire Rodney (Short) spend decades in a pond as frogs, waiting for the one special maiden to break the spell.
Cut to modern-day New York, where the frogs have been transported for reasons too inane to detail.
A Broadway diva named Margo (Bernadette Peters) kisses the frog prince as a testament of her unwavering love for her scoundrel boyfriend and manager, Hamish (Billy Connolly). Finally human again, the prince has four days to convince Margo to marry him or return to the swamp forever.
The prince and Rodney enlist the help of Kate (Applegate), a disenchanted single New Yorker on their quest; cue the hilarity and romance, which never arrive.
Doug Palau’s script is neither irreverent nor bawdy enough to offer anything new. And without the slightest bit or irony or self-mockery, the humor seems downright sophisticated next to the immature notions of love everlasting.
The secondary cast, including Peters, Connolly and Andrea Martin, put up a good front, despite being above the material. Tech credits live up to the pic’s unremarkable standards.