The 10th Kingdom
DVD, 417 minutes
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When The 10th Kingdom originally aired on NBC several years ago, American audiences didn’t watch in high enough numbers for a sequel to be given the go-ahead, and that’s too bad, because it’s really a charming miniseries with an excellent cast.
It’s the story of a young woman named Virginia (Kimberly Williams-Paisley), a waitress who lives with her janitor father (John Laroquette) Tony in an apartment near New York’s Central Park. Her mother abandoned the family when she was seven. One day, an apparently-stray golden retriever barrels into Virginia’s bike as she’s riding to her job at Tavern on the Green, but he isn’t really a stray, he’s a fairy tale prince who’s been transformed into a dog, and he’s being chased by a half-wolf, Wolf, (played by Scott Cohen) and three trolls.
While Virginia hides the dog, and tries to avoid Wolf, her father tangles with the trolls. Eventually, after some wishes go awry, all of them journey by magic mirror to The Nine Kingdoms – a group of countries originally ruled by the likes of Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, and Queen Riding Hood (the age of the Naked Emperor is mentioned as well) and now threatened by the evil queen, and the troll king.
Adventures, some loosely tied to the fairy tales we all grew up with, and some not, ensue, and of course, Wolf and Virginia, who spend much of the time bickering, end up falling in love, before they, with her father and the dog-prince, save the kindgoms and live happily ever after…at least for a while.
It sounds formulaic, but the twists away from the classic tales are fabulous, and some of the performances are amazing. Kimberly Williams-Paisley has been a favorite of mine since I first saw her in the remake of Father of the Bride and Scott Cohen’s Wolf is charming, funny, and a little bit dangerous – just as every leading Wolf should be. A scene that’s barely more than a cameo, with Camryn Manheim as Snow White, is touching and lovely (and she comes off as a totally credible Snow, by the way), and Rutger Hauer is both creepy and a little sexy as the Queen’s huntsman, while Diane Wiest, playing against type, is delicious as the Evil Queen.
With enough subtext and double entendre to please adults, and a family friendly presentation, The 10th Kingdom is a great movie for a snow day, either watched all at once, or in three parts. It ships on 3 DVDs.