Who could’ve predicted that 11-year-old Sophia Grace Brownlee and her eight-year-old cousin Rosie McClelland would be starring in a feature film back when they debuted on The Ellen DeGeneres Show two years ago? Discovered via a homemade YouTube video (in which the duo performed Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass”), the girls began appearing on Ellen regularly. Their popularity has culminated in Sophia Grace & Rosie’s Royal Adventure, releasing on Blu-ray and DVD May 20, 2014. The 79-minute feature is a snappily-edited, pop tune-inflected comedy that’s sure to be a hit with the girls’ many fans.
Royal Adventure begins with Sophia Grace and Rosie being sent by Ellen to Switzelvania to cover the coronation of a new queen (no cameo by DeGeneres herself, just the use of her brand). They’re accompanied by an uptight chaperone, Phyllis Bundt (Amy Louise Wilson), who they’re promptly separated from after landing in the foreign country. While Phyllis tries to track down “Not Phyllis” (Alex McGregor), the woman who has stolen her identity, the girls meet the three princesses vying for the crown. Princesses Imogen (Anna Skellern) and Cordelia (Emma Pierson) are superficial snobs. Their younger sister Abigail (Margaret Clunie), immersed in constant cosplay as DC Comics’ Artemis, has no interest in the coronation.
While “Not Phyllis” fills in as an Ellen correspondent (why the show’s staffers back in the U.S. don’t recognize her as an imposter remains an unsolved mystery), Sophia Grace and Rosie enact a Princess Diaries variation with Abigail. The older princesses have no use for Sophia Grace or Rosie, but Abigail instantly bonds with them. Together, the tykes inspire her to seek the crown and help to refine her behavior. Rosie even enlists the assistance of a magical ceramic duck that grants wishes.
While there’s not much here for older viewers, director Brian Levant (Snow Dogs, Are We There Yet?) keeps things moving along at a good clip, allowing it all to pass painlessly. The production values are quite strong and the cast is game. Especially considering this is their acting debut, young Brownlee and McClelland do a very good job of capturing their natural personas as seen on Ellen.
The Blu-ray offers a flawless high definition image, every bit as sharp and colorful as one would expect. Bold pinks and primary colors play a big part in Royal Adventure’s overall art direction and they’re vividly rendered. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack is efficient as well, coming to life during the film’s several musical sequences. It’s pretty heavily front-centric, but Eugene Mishustin’s jaunty score expands out to the surround channels.
Special features include a very brief featurette “The Story of Pink,” a montage of highlights from the girls’ appearances on Ellen, four minutes of bloopers, and five music videos that offer recording studio footage and on-screen lyrics. The package also includes a standard DVD and UltraViolet digital copy.
Sophia Grace & Rosie’s Royal Adventure is a harmless family film that will delight fans. And anyone wondering whether the quieter Rosie (who leaves the singing and rapping to Sophia Grace during their Ellen appearances) gets as many lines as her louder cousin, the answer is yes. This is no Penn & Teller act; the girls are given equal screen time as well as punch lines.