The Royal Treatment comes from Rick Jacobson, who seems to exist here as a for-hire director until viewers look into his previous work. That previous work, by the way, includes shows like Spartacus which has, apparently, lines like “you had me at whores,” which makes me want to break my usual TV watching algorithm and watch that show. This movie has its share of evergreen lines and line readings like “Sure I [have to feed the kids], I’m Italian” or “That’s extortion, Doug,” lines that actors say when they’re playing New Yorkers, specifically, Italian-Americans, an ethnic group white enough for movies to make caricatures of. It’s like someone at Netflix watched Little Italy and decided that they needed one of those.
These lines and line readings also make me feel like I’m having a fever dream instead of watching a movie. Anyway, the Italian lady who has to feed children because she’s Italian is Isabella or Izzy (Laura Marano). She owns a hair salon in Queens. She serendipitously Prince Thomas of Lavania (Aladdin‘s Mena Massoud). Doing a good job with the Prince, the Lavanian Royal Family hires her and her crew to do the hair and make-up for a royal wedding. But of course they fall in love instead.
The Royal Treatment feels like it exists for a lot of reasons. For Lavania, the crew uses both real life locations and half of the talent of New Zealand. So basically half of the actors here are probably using this movie as part of their demo reels and CVs. Specifically, that they can do the many accents that somehow make it here, mostly British and New York. It also exists as a platform for Marano. Marano provides some of the songs in the soundtrack and almost has enough charm to win over couples who need to watch a movie like this for eye bleach.
There are a lot of shots where Thomas looks at Izzy through windows, her energy coming off as either vibrant or annoying, depending on who you ask. In fairness, we can blame that energy on Holly Hester’s script more. Thomas watches Izzy from afar but eventually the camera has to close-up on her during the movie’s obligatory breakup climax. And she needs to improve on those scenes if she wants a second shot at being a leading lady. She’s no Vanessa Hugdens.
Romcoms need at least one person to tango, and Massoud does his best here. I’m not a looker so take my words on actors’ looks like buckets of salt. But there’s enough versatility in Massoud’s looks that both he and the camera use to their advantage. He can play both an awkward looking guy and a charming prince in the same movie. It’s harder for him to play a character who is at whopping age of thirty. And yet, he is just learning about the conflict of interest between duty and love, but in fairness to him, most actors can’t pull off ridiculous movies like this, even if they know that it’s silly.
The Royal Treatment comes out globally on Netflix today.