Movie Review: What a Girl Wants (Spoiler-Free)


Rating: 6.0 out of 10 stars


This is part of a series of reviews on my friend’s childhood favorite movies. My friends and I have decided to “share our childhoods” with each other. They insisted I watch this movie with them.

Below I hash out the pros and cons that earned this movie 6 stars.


What a Girl Wants, released in 2003, is based on a play called The Reluctant Debutante by William Douglas-Home. It falls into the category of Comedy and was intended for a teen audience.

The movie stars Amanda Bynes, Colin Firth, and Kelly Preston.


17-year-old Daphne Reynolds, a New York City gal who grew up without her father, decides to go on a trip to England to meet him for the first time. Hilarity ensues.


  • Charming, innocent plot
  • Likable heroine
  • Catchy music suited to the theme
  • Humorous dialogue


  • No surprises
  • Very cheesy and cliché



While the plot is predictable enough, it was enjoyable to watch.

It started out with a story about Daphne’s parents, Libby Reynolds and Henry Dashwood. They met in Northern Africa, when Libby fell and rolled down a hill before being unceremoniously caught by Henry when she had almost reached the bottom. Ouch! (Seriously, Henry, try saving the damsel-in-distress a little faster next time.)

Apparently impressed by his heroically sloth-like rescue attempt, Libby predictably falls in love. Then the two were married in a possibly legally illegitimate Bedoin wedding.

Henry brings Libby home to his family, who are less than thrilled, them being typical rich snobs while Libby is the hippie singer type. Due to a misunderstanding engineered by an advisor who is a pain (is that why he is called Mr. Payne?), Libby leaves England for the United States without Henry ever finding out she is pregnant.

Daphne wants to meet her father desperately, so she travels to England alone, a fact that her mother seems completely unconcerned about.

I feel like half of me is missing.”

Daphne Reynolds

She soon meets a boy I will call Mr. Obvious Love Interest and sees her father the same day.

What a Girl Wants (2003) - Rotten Tomatoes

From there, things are pretty cookie-cutter fairy tale. She is foiled in most of her plans by Ms. Potential Future Stepmother and the Snobby Potential Future Stepsister. And it all ends…exactly how anyone would expect.

It is like many early Disney movies–incredibly cheesy and fun anyway.

The Heroine

What a Girl Wants (2003) - IMDb

Daphne is sweet, spunky, naïve…actually, listen to “Mother Knows Best” from the movie Tangled. The way Mother Gothel describes Rapunzel pretty much sums up Daphne.

Nevertheless, it is fun to see her flaunting convention in every way possible just by being herself.


The music complements the movie and includes some 80s and 90s music. It also fits Daphne’s personality and upbringing well.


The dialogue is refreshingly humorous and light-hearted. Below I share two of my favorite comments from the movie.

No hugging, dear. I’m British. We only show affection to dogs and horses.

Jocelyn Dashwood

I don’t give a flying fart in space what you think!”

Henry Dashwood


This movie was fun to watch once, but I would be unlikely to watch it again. Pretty much, if you like cheesy Disney movies, watch it. If you want something deeper, keep looking.

Rating System

If you want to know how I rate movies, check out my rating system.

If you like my content, subscribe to my newsletter!

Liked it? Take a second to support P. A. Wilson on Patreon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.