(updated 8/19/03)
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US reviews

"Providing something of an anchor is a convincing turn by the always reliable Firth ("Bridget Jones's Diary")...."  —The Hollywood Reporter by Michael Rechtshaffen (full review)

"...British actor Colin Firth proves the perfect choice for the role of the high-class Politician, suddenly softened when he discovers he has a teenage daughter. It’s the charming performances of Bynes and Firth who’ll keep older viewers interested." —Moviehole.net by Clint (full review)

"A similar story also worked back in 1958 when it was the basis for a film called The Reluctant Debutante and starred Sandra Dee and Rex Harrison. This time around, Bynes plays the daughter with more physical humor and Firth projects more unconscious sex appeal as the father, but both versions are definitely worth seeing....This fine actor speaks volumes merely by the look in his eyes, the slightest change of expression or a simple gesture. Trying to relate to a daughter he never knew he had, especially during the midst of an important election, poses quite a challenge for Lord Dashwood; and Firth makes the man’s frustration and compassion seem very real." —ReelTalk by Betty Jo Tucker (full review)

"the understated Firth holds the film together as the nervous but droll Henry." —Sydney Morning Herald by Alexa Moses  (full review)

"Still, that can't kill off the good will generated by Bynes and Colin Firth. The essentially glum English actor continually finds his way into comedies that mine his glumness for humor. Previous films have made him a straitlaced foil for looser actors such as Hugh Grant (Bridget Jones's Diary) and Rupert Everett (The Importance of Being Earnest), which he does pretty well. He's given more to do here, and he responds, flashing anger and betrayal at the people who kept his daughter's existence from him, and suggesting a hip guy underneath the lordly exterior. Many actors faced with the challenge of playing second fiddle to a 17-year-old would have phoned it in; Firth gives a performance that's as real as the script allows him to be." —Fort Worth Weekly by Kristian Lin  (full review)

"Daphne has never met her father, an English lord, Henry Dashwood (Colin Firth, stammering like a second- string Hugh Grant), who was tricked into breaking up with her mother before Daphne was born....Minnelli's comedy had its serious underpinnings: by the end of the film, a girl had become a woman. By the end of Ms. Gordon's film...the girl is still a girl, but a girl with much cooler stuff, including a stately home, a butler and a cute British boyfriend (Oliver James). It's no longer the children who must learn to grow up, but the adults—exemplified by Mr. Firth's character as he slips into a pair of leather pants and practices his air- guitar moves—who are required to grow down." —The NY Times by Dave Kehr  (full review)

"Firth, fresh off "Bridget Jones's Diary" and "The Importance of Being Earnest," joins Pryce as top English talent wasted for no good reason. That's not to say he isn't willing to throw himself into a role. It might take him years, however, to live down a scene in which he pours himself into leather pants, plays air guitar and yowls Rick Derringer's "Rock and Roll Hootchie Koo" in front of a mirror. Tom Cruise in "Risky Business" he is not." 1-1/2 stars —Chicago Tribune by Robert K. Elder  (full review)

"Bynes has a definite appeal, her supporting cast (Kelly Preston, Jonathan Pryce and especially Colin Firth, who gives a genuine performance as her long-absent father) is strong and the movie musters a moment or two of fairy-tale charm." (C+) —Seattle Post-Examiner by William Arnold  (full review)

"It lacks Diaries' exuberance, but Girl does boast the likable presence of Nickelodeon star Amanda Bynes, the suave charm of Colin Firth and a cute, chaste romance with youthful hunk Oliver James....Firth's own inner rebel gets dusted off—though it might be going a tad too far to show the dignified Firth rocking
out and playing air guitar in skintight leather pants. Both Firth and Pryce deserve better material than their
one-dimensional roles call for. (2-1/2 of 4 stars) —USA Today by Claudia Puig  (full review)

"Of course, any cast with Firth has built-in charm. Flustered but entranced by his daughter's appearance, his Henry is thrown lovably off-balance. Though devoted to aristocratic duty, at heart he's a guy who loves rock 'n' roll, Cocoa Puffs and motorcycles. Just like Queen Latifah enlivening Steve Martin in Bringing Down the House, Bynes unleashes Firth's inner party animal. That's epitomized by a hilarious scene in which he dons leather pants to play air guitar before a mirror. (A-) —Houston Chronicle by Bruce Westbrook  (full review)

"Designed as the ideal confection to attract a young girl or teen, What a Girl Wants will more likely hook their mothers. Ostensibly, the movie stars Nickelodeon luminary Amanda Bynes, but it truly belongs to Colin Firth, the thinking woman's Hugh Grant." 

"After high school graduation, Bynes flies to London, picks up a cute singing beau in no time at all...but all she really wants is Daddy, whose inner rebel is muffled in pinstripes. Firth is also saddled with a stuck-up fiancee and her daughter, plus a run for Parliament orchestrated by her nasty father. Nobody can do hound-dog eyes coupled with upper-class repression better than Firth, and here he gets his chance." —Philadelphia Inquirer by Karen Heller (full review)

"Firth...lends credibility simply by playing things straight. His character is allowed to express anguish over being cut out of his daughter's life. In most of these movies, it takes little more than buying the kid an ice cream cone to make everybody feel better. —The Arizona Republic by Bill Muller  (full review)

"If there is an adult excuse to chew the taffy, beyond the need to escape news from Iraq, it is not for the plug-in charms of old pros like Eileen Atkins and Jonathan Pryce. It is Colin Firth. Watching Firth mumble and flubber and fidget with adorable sincerity, you wonder if he took some priestly vow of serious acting. He works through his jokey squiggles of emotion, even his 'air guitar' dance in leather from Dashwood's youth, as if he were being loyal to Chekhov or the Oscar Wilde of 'De Profundis.' It is Firth, and the spread of British sites, sights, speech and clipped wit (plus some dorky stuff) that keep 'What a Girl Wants' bearably amusing. It is all a lot closer to Cyndi 'Girls Just Want to Have Fun' Lauper than to Sigmund 'What do women want?' Freud. Poor old Freud, stuck in a pre-Firth era, never did answer his question. —San Diego Union-Tribune by David Elliott  (full review)

"But Dashing Dad is the real Prince Charming. Firth melts hearts with his usual charm as an honorable man struggling to balance his responsibilities and expectations with his newly found daughter and his heart." —Arizona Star by Ann Brown  (full review)

"for mothers weary of the boring grown-ups in Crossroads and A Walk to Remember, Colin Firth, who may look like a dad to the kids but will always be Pride and Prejudice's Mr. Darcy to the rest of us. Firth is only one member of the high-pedigree cast; others, such as Eileen Atkins and Jonathan Pryce, also lend the film a touch of respectability....Daphne makes a designer original out of a truly hideous dress armed only with a pair of scissors, and Dad loosens up enough to try on a pair of his old leather pants. That's Colin Firth in leather pants. Now talk about a fantasy." —Miami Herald by Connie Ogle  (full review)

"As it is, the moments of the film that do work are the tender, thoughtful, confrontational encounters between Daphne and her dad, Henry. He’s played, also with charm, dignity, wit and sensitivity (excluding a silly scene in which he gyrates in tight leather pants) by Colin Firth, able, remarkably, to put across another interesting take on the constipated romantic Brit, who’s actually much more complex and intriguing than the posh twit he initially appears. It’s the sort of role that Firth has mastered many times before, notably as
Mr. Darcy in a television production of 'Pride and Prejudice,' ad as the ultimate right guy, also a Mr. Darcy, in 'Bridget Jones’ Diary.' It’s interesting to see him work the same skills in a paternal role and he finds an excellent match in Bynes..." —Boxoffice Magazine by Bridget Byrne  (full review)

"I can think of several better titles for 'What a Girl Wants,' but my favorite is 'Firth Things First.' Colin Firth's name belongs in the title because this isn't a movie so much as a star vehicle. Of course, my title has problems of its own. Namely, it fails to recognize Amanda Bynes, who makes up the other 50 percent of the film.

"When 'What a Girl Wants' is working, it's because Bynes and Firth are charming us....There is no getting around the film's manipulative nature and bland storytelling, but Bynes and Firth do the best with what's set before them. It would be easy not to care whether Daphne develops a relationship with her newfound dad, but Bynes ensures that we do. She is a charming actor, and the charm-o-meter is going full tilt here. Likewise, Firth plays Dashwood as the type of aristocrat we want to believe in. His character is  dutiful and ambitious, yet governed by traits like honesty and morality. As if.

"The roles are cliche, yes, but Bynes and Firth put enough heart in their performances to sell them. And because we like them, we sometimes like the film. The key word being sometimes. —Gannett News Service by Forrest Hartman  (full review)

"As for Firth, he picks up where his splendid portrayal in Bridget Jones's Diary left off. Once again, he expertly presents a dry exterior that hides a tender, searching heart." —Premiere Magazine by Susannah Gora  (full review)

From the UK
"Fortunately, the performances are good, and Firth is especially solid as a man confronted with his past in a rather shocking way. His scenes with Bynes are excellent, and give the film a real heart, as do Bynes' scenes with Preston..." —Shadows on the Wall by Rich Cline (full review)

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