Cinderella stories don’t die, they mutate.
In “The Royal Treatment,” Izzy (Laura Marano), a New York hairdresser with major attitude, gets a happily-ever-after story that justifies itself by offering two tweaks to the familiar formula. First, the screenwriter Holly Hester swaps the fairy godmother for a smartphone — one that mistakenly directs the valet of a dimpled royal, Prince Thomas (Mena Massoud), to Izzy’s salon. Second, this candy-floss flick embraces today’s trend toward populism by having the girl initially reject the prince because his kingdom, a Euro-spritzed fantasyland called Lavania where folk-dancing peasants speak fluent English, has perpetrated human rights abuses.
Here, the prince — not his working-class crush — must be made over. This is because of ignominies including his ignorance of the number of gardeners on the royal estate (18, for the record) and his failure to question why his parents have betrothed him to the daughter of a Texas real estate tycoon. (Let’s just say that the reason is not good for the poorest Lavanians, who live in a gray warren called Über die Gleise, or “Over the Tracks.”)
The movie comes across as a deliberately, almost defensively, inane trifle; a cupcake whose icing reads, “Enjoy the tooth decay.” Not only can’t the Lavanians agree on an accent, but the structures that make up the king’s castle can’t agree on an architecture style, settling on a bizarre mix of mildewed gargoyles and modernist solariums. Given the director Rick Jacobson’s sheer insouciance, it feels petty to sniff that the couple has the chemistry of tap water. The lovebirds chatter and smile — Massoud with a graham-cracker blandness, Marano with a roiling, unfiltered and eventually exhausting extroversion — as time ticks by until a climactic kiss. There’s no swooning, but at least there’s a fun subplot where Izzy’s salon co-workers (played by Grace Bentley-Tsibuah and Chelsie Preston Crayford) suffer a royal re-education camp that trains the brassy glamour girls to put down their nail glitter. Sobs one, “I’m losing my pizazz!”
The Royal Treatment
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 36 minutes. Watch on Netflix.