Accidental love-child Daphne Reynolds (Amanda Bynes) has spent her seventeen years thus far as a native New Yorker holed up in Chinatown with her bohemian musician mother, Libby (Kelly Preston). The two make ends meet by working weddings together -- mother badly belting rock songs and daughter badly waitressing. They live together in perfect harmony and exhibit absolutely none of the acute emotional turmoil commonly displayed in such relationships. Adding to the fantasy, hasn't surrendered her exhausted body to a single caterer in the seventeen long years she's been estranged from Daphne's father, an uncommonly hunky Englishman named Henry (Colin Firth), whom she married in a bogus ceremony in Morocco.
With her mother's oblivious blessing and no attempt made to reclaim her, Daphne runs away from home, plugs Virgin airlines by name and jets off to a bunch of cheesy montages showing how neato England is. Daphne discovers on the telly that her father is Lord Henry Dashwood, who is on the fast track to becoming Prime Minister. This leaves her no choice but to clamber clumsily over the wall of his estate and introduce herself as his daughter.
Lord Henry is -- yawwwn -- beset by the foul political manipulation of his busybody fiancée, Glynnis Payne (Anna Chancellor), who teams up with her nasty daughter, Clarissa (Christina Cole), to give untouchable Daphne the bum's rush straight back across the pond. Those mean Brits! At the core of this dastardly scheme is Glynnis' father, Alistair Payne (Jonathan Pryce), who is as bad as bad can be, using his daughter's imminent nuptials to gain a family foothold in Parliament. With trouble like this brewing, what's a young American chick to do?
Why, dance around in hip-huggers and other trashy clothes to vapid pop music expendables (though the title song is curiously absent) to show those uptight Limeys what's what! Until the movie's last couple of minutes, the whole mess is a nonstop idiot orgy of heinously narrated cutesy shenanigans designed to reveal that all those stuffy Brits really need is an ignorant teen-ager to show them how to make their country more fun.
Alleged screenwriters Jenny Bicks (Dawson's Creek) and Elizabeth Chandler (Someone Like You) toss off perhaps three amusing lines ("No hugs, dear," explains Eileen Atkins as Henry's doting mother. "I'm British. We only show affection to dogs and horses."), but alleged director Dennie Gordon (Joe Dirt) seems to think that prolonged nonsensical slop is funny. It isn't, dearie. Back to film school.
Actually, this is one of the most depressing films in recent memory -- and one of the most offensive. First of all, whoever decided to exploit the Clash's "London Calling" for dipstick Daphne's British invasion deserves the full punishment of the punk pantheon. Bynes herself mainly seems confused throughout, but her smug Chelsea Clintonesque acceptance to "Ox-ferrd" made my eardrums bleed. And does she really expect us to like her character after she disses the Bee Gees? But the real disgust here is generated by Firth and Pryce, both embarrassing to behold as they cavort about like top-honor graduates of the Dan Aykroyd School of Never Saying No. Those Yankee dollars must be pretty damned tempting.