RoyalNightOutcoverGrade: B
Entire family: No
2015, 97 min., Color
20th Century Fox
Rated PG-13 for some sexual content and brief drug elements
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1
Featured audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Bonus features: C
Amazon link

Here are four words you have to keep in mind when watching A Royal Night Out: “Inspired by True Events.” In Hollywood, that means a wholesale revision of the facts, if not a pure fiction. So this 2015 historical comedy-romance-adventure is truthful when it says it’s only inspired by the story of Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret being allowed to venture incognito outside the gates of Buckingham Palace on V.E. Day to listen to their father’s speech from the other side of the fence. Twentieth Century Fox quite accurately describes it as “a fanciful tale about two real-life princesses who long to feel normal on the most extraordinary night of their lives.” While critics have taken this WWII-era film to task for its blatant historical inaccuracies and eyebrow-raising plot, I feel compelled to say, Relax. This isn’t The King’s Speech. It’s Adventures in Babysitting meets Roman Holiday.

RoyalNightOutscreen1The action takes place on a single night in which all of London is euphorically celebrating Hitler’s demise and the end of the war in Europe. After the king (Rupert Everett) countermand’s the queen (Emily Watson) and gives his daughters permission to leave the palace on the condition that they report back to him what the “real” people have to say about him and his speech, the sensible Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon) and her wild younger sister Margaret (Bel Powley) leave the gates with two military chaperones. They think they’re headed for a night on the town, but at the king’s orders the escorts drop them off at a stuffy hotel ballroom celebration with England’s upper-crust old fogies the only ones in attendance. But, tempted by women and liquor, the chaperones decide to leave their post at the closed door and watch from afar.

Of course Margaret manages to slip out first, and then Elizabeth, with the latter’s entire night spent trying to track down and take care of her wild but naive sister, who drinks her way across London with a group of naval officers that has no idea she’s the princess. To catch up with her RoyalNightOutscreen2Elizabeth boards a bus and, having no money for fare, is about to be tossed off when a young R.A.F. bomber seated next to her offers to pay. From that point on, he becomes her reluctant, unwilling, and finally devoted accomplice as the two of them continue their pursuit of Margaret . . . and of course draw closer to each other in the process.

A Royal Night Out is fast-paced fun if, like the princesses, you allow yourself to get swept up in the manic euphoria of one of history’s biggest celebrations. Director Julian Jarrold (Becoming Jane, Brideshead Revisited) and his set and costume designers do a fine job of selling the period atmosphere, and the cast is perfectly charming. It’s the kind of film that princess-crazy daughters would love, if their own kings and queens would let them watch. Be aware, though, that there’s celebratory drinking, drunkenness, some brawling, hookers, opium dens, and overly aggressive military men.

Language: Surprisingly little, and when it’s used it’s British
Sex: One topless woman with pasties is shown the background, a man sleeps between two women, and another man, though fully clothed, is in a coital position
Violence: Several fistfights
Adult situations: A den of iniquity, hookers, and lecherous behavior
Takeaways: Surprisingly fun. Hollywood loves to project the longing that royalty has for a “normal” life, but I’d bet it’s nothing compared to the longing that “normal” people have for leading a life of leisure and luxury. Just sayin’.