SophiaGracecoverGrade: C
Entire family: Theoretically, but . . .
2014, 75 min., Color
Warner Bros.
Rated G
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Featured audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.0
Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, UV Copy
Bonus features: C+/B-
Trailer

There are three types of people who will go for Sophia Grace & Rosie’s Royal Adventure: people who are charmed by the duo’s YouTube videos, fans of Toddlers & Tiaras, and Ellen DeGeneres. And if only some members of your family fall into any of those categories, you can be sure that the rest will groan or complain all the way through this film.

I was thinking about why Sophia Grace & Rosie’s Royal Adventure has more limited appeal than the old Shirley Temple movies, and maybe it’s as simple as the difference between watching Shirley Temple perform “On the Good Ship Lollipop” or watching another little girl imitate Shirley Temple. It’s the difference between being cute and acting cute, and television is famous for giving us way too many of the latter. Then too, even when Temple was being cute, she was sweet. And there will always be a broader audience for sweetness than there is for attitude, even if we describe it euphemistically as “precociousness.”

Sophia Grace and Rosie first appeared on Ellen in 2011 when they were eight and five years old, respectively, and the older girl performed Niki Minaj’s “Super Bass” while her younger cousin went through the motions alongside her because it made her less nervous. More appearances (and many more YouTube videos) followed, with the pair acting as mini-journalists and doing Red Carpet interviews—always in their trademark pink princessy dresses and tiaras. Then they were recruited for two episodes of the Nickelodeon sitcom Sam & Cat, in which teen stars Jennette McCurdy and Ariana Grande’s characters had to babysit two two-faced “BritBrats” and later had to deal with the “Revenge of the BritBrats.” Even without watching those episodes you can see how the girls’ onscreen personas have been shaped.

Now they’re on their own with no Ellen and no teen stars. Can they carry a movie? Yes indeed, if you happen to like them. If not, it’s like being trapped in an elevator with a valley girl who’s a nonstop chatterer intent on giving you a play by play as she scales Mount Inanity.

SophiaGracescreenIn their Royal Adventure, Sophia Grace & Rosie are sent to Switzelvania as correspondents for Ellen in order to report on the coronation of a new queen, but when they arrive they find that three princesses are scheming to get that crown. And so these “journalists” decide to make the news instead of reporting it by plotting and coaching so that the best candidate wins. Of course the humor is played over-the-top and since the film is a showcase for Sophia Grace & Rosie they don’t have to steal each scene—it’s handed to them on a silver platter.

Though they overact in the manner of way too many child actors, Sophia Grace & Rosie still impress with their ability to memorize scenes and play to reaction shots. I mean, they’re still only 11 and eight years old, and they really do an amazing job of just being professionals. But over the past three years it seems that the older cousin has gotten more full of herself and therefore more annoying . . . unless you’re a fan of Toddlers & Tiaras or are big fans of Sophia Grace & Rosie because you like their act. Very little girls who are into pink and all things princess will enjoy this movie as well. But for everyone else? It’s like watching a Shirley Temple imitator at a talent contest who tries to act cute, rather than being cute and not knowing it. They’re great in small doses, but the girls make this 75-minute feature feel a lot longer.

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