The Royal Treatment (2022)

The Royal Treatment
Director: Rick Jacobson
Writer: Holly Hester
Cast: Laura Marano, Mena Massoud, Cameron Rhodes, Amanda Billing, Chelsie Preston Crayford, Grace Bentley-Tsibuah, Elizabeth Hawthorne, Sonia Gray
Seen on: 26.1.2022

Izzy (Laura Marano) runs a salon in New York together with her mother (Amanda Billing) and her grandmother (Elizabeth Hawthorne). She practically knows everyone in the neighborhood and is happiest when she can help, although money is always tight. One day, Izzy gets called to cut Prince Thomas’ (Mena Massoud) hair who is in New York for his engagement party. It was a mix-up regarding hair salons, but Izzy will not let the chance pass. When she meets Thomas, things are quite electric. And just maybe they can offer each other what they need and have been lacking so far.

The Royal Treatment is one hell of a confused film that doesn’t really satisfy the romantic itch for me. It just doesn’t come together.

The film psoter showing Prince Thomas (Mena Massoud) and Izzy (Laura Marano) smiling, each in front of their home backgrounds: a castle for Thomas, New York for Izzy.

I usually really like it when films have a strong sociopolitical message, and don’t share in the cynicism that seems to be the norm most of the time. And The Royal Treatment is certainly very earnest, I’ll give it that. It’s just… it really doesn’t know what it’s doing. Or rather, it thinks that it is way more progressive than it actually is. It’s absolutely obsessed with the idea of charity, instead of dismantling power hierarchies. And asking servants for their names, rather than their working conditions. And it’s also pretty insulting that apparently nobody in Thomas’ kingdom has ever heard of improving things. They are all just waiting until a random tourist starts handing out some flyers.

And all of this is done to make Izzy likeable, I think, but honestly, I would have liked her much better if she hadn’t engaged in this self-congratulary world-saving and instead hadn’t abandoned her friends Destiny (Chelsie Preston Crayford) and Lola (Grace Bentley-Tsibuah) who have to work all the time and get abused by Madame Fabre (Sonia Gray) – in fact, Destiny and Lola are treated exactly like the servants were treated when Izzy protested their treatment, and Izzy doesn’t give a fuck. She’d rather go out dancing instead.

Izzy (Laura Marano) with a little girl at a street party.

Marano and Massoud don’t have the greatest of chemistries either, so the romance feels rather artificial. Massoud is a charm machine and does his best, but Marano’s performance is uneven and hampered by Izzy’s character. Their happy end feels also rather hollow because so many things are unclear for me. Only five seconds before Thomas makes his grand gesture to sweep Izzy off her feet, Izzy announces that she has taken a new job. How will that work? Who is she leaving in the lurch here? (But that’s really par for the course for a film who doesn’t even manage a proper explanation of why Thomas’ wedding was a necessary part of the plan of his parents.)

Overall, it’s just a really lukewarm film. In fact, the most joy I got out of it (apart from Lola and Destiny who are an excellent duo), was everytime a character pronounce “Über die Gleise”, the poor part of Thomas’ home city. As a German native speaker, it made me laugh until I cried. But other than that, this film gets a resounding meh.

Prince Thomas (Mena Massoud) at the breakfast table in his castle.

Summarizing: there is definitely better RomCom material out there.

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