Inspired by a true bit of lore about the princesses of England celebrating V-E Day in 1945, "A Royal Night Out" imagines a wild and wacky adventure for the teenage girls who want nothing more than an incognito night on the town.
Sarah Gadon stars as the future Queen Elizabeth, responsible in her military officer's uniform, while Bel Powley turns in a fizzy, dizzy performance as the free-spirited Princess Margaret. Kept on a short leash by their parents, the Queen (Emily Watson) and King (Rupert Everett, unrecognizable in prosthetic makeup), the girls quickly escape their curfews and chaperones — well, Margaret does.
Soon Elizabeth is in hot pursuit, bringing along a jaded airman named Jack (Jack Reynor), whom she's met on the bus. While both girls are naive, Margaret is reckless, Elizabeth cautious. They don't really know how to do anything in the real world. Their night on the town, involving downtown clubs, sexual predators and lindy hops in the military barracks teaches them more about the world than they've ever known. Jack is especially enlightening for Elizabeth as she learns about his wartime trauma and he teases her about her posh attitude, without knowing she's a royal.
Directed by Julian Jarrold, "A Royal Night Out" is a decidedly cute affair, following the pratfalls, kooky encounters and madcap adventures of the princesses and their entourage. Despite the perfunctory social commentary and retro political optimism, the film remains a lighthearted romp to its core.
'A Royal Night Out'
MPAA rating: PG-13 for some sexual content and brief drug elements
Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes