STUDIO: Genius Products
MSRP: $29.99
RATED: Not Rated (Made for television)
RUNNING TIME: 89 Minutes
• None

The Pitch

"We’ve got a truckload of blank DVDs, a few hours of stock footage of Princess Diana, and a bottle of Red Label. That guy from Jurassic Park is coming by later. Who’s up for a TRIBUTE PARTY?”

The Humans

Richard Attenborough, Diana Spencer, Prince Charles, Hillary Clinton, Oonagh Toffolo, et al.

Much of the film’s £210 million price tag was a result of Attenborough’s lavish request to film all of his scenes from within a distant nebula.

The Nutshell

Diana: Queen of Hearts, a “Hallmark Entertainment” presentation, is a tribute to the life of Princess Diana as recollected by her friends, acquaintances, servants, former employers, teachers, ladies-in-waiting, hair dressers, paparazzis, clothing designers, make-up artists, acupuncturists, astrologers, fallopian tube massagers, street-urchin-taunters, craniologists, and Hillary Clinton. Note: only three of the previous listed items were jokes.

In addition to his acting, Attenborough was renowned for his godlike ability to steal watches from royalty.

The Lowdown

First, two things about the reviewer:

1: I’m more or less ambivalent towards monarchies. While I find some of the traditions interesting, I avoid royal family news and gossip like the plague.

2: Although I wasn’t much of a Diana supporter, I’m certainly not a Diana detractor. Sure, she’s an overrated princess, especially if you look at the stats- Princess Madeline of Sweden can lift a 90 lb medicine ball straight over her head, and Princess Letizia of Spain could hurl an anvil 5 meters (in her prime). But putting aside the more traditional “feats of strength” rankings, I can concede that she was at a minimum a very popular public figure and generous philanthropist.

Listen, I’m just really burned out on Di. I’m sure she was a nice lady, but does she really need another cash-in tribute after the unholy trinity that was Diana: A Tribute to the People’s Princess, Diana: Last Days of a Princess, and Princess Diana: A Princess’ Princess? Apparently, Hallmark Entertainment thought so, since they’ve trotted out this 1998 made-for-TV masterpiece just in time for Di’s 10th deathiversary.

Although she achieved moderate success as an acupuncturist, she would never be as famous as her cousin, Jar Jar Binks.

Queen of Hearts is a trite commemoration. It’s generally bland, cheesy, and synthetic. It’s packed to the gills with gushing hyperbole like “She was one of the most amazing, important, and beautiful people of all time,” and there are direct comparisons made with Mother Teresa. Worse yet, it’s rife with Titanic inspired synthesizer music. Keeping in mind that this was made in ’98, I’ve decided to look at this tribute as more of a time capsule than anything else, if only to admire it for the weird core sample of late 90’s culture that it is.

Hearts begins with a documentary-style recap of Diana’s pre-princess days as a Spencer. I wasn’t aware that the Spencers were considered to be royalty in their own right (since the Spencer bloodline actually goes back further than the royals’), which is surprising, given all of the “people’s princess” talk. She appears grounded and shy in her interviews, but there’s no doubt that she’d been given every luxury as a child. This intro is pretty well done, as it doesn’t rely upon gushing interview after gushing interview to tell Diana’s story; Attenborough tries his best to let the footage do the talking, which works, since her Spencer days and her courtship period are interesting and cinematic. At around the 30 minute mark, Hearts plummets into gushing interview mode, which would have been really painful had it not been for the motley crew of oddball interview subjects rounded up for this production. We get to hear from her old paparazzi connections, her acupuncturist, and her astrologer (whom I guess decided not to warn her about going driving that fateful night in Paris- Nice Astrologing, jerk!). We even get a few minutes of Hillary Clinton’s time for some reason. Elton must have been on tour, since he’s absent from the proceedings entirely.

Interview freak show aside, the last hour of the tribute is complete pablum. I couldn’t recommend this disc to anyone who isn’t a Diana completist, as there really isn’t any substance to this tribute whatsoever. After the ninth interviewee declares her “an irrepressible, illuminating force of light and goodness in the world, and a spearhead for justice and peace,” you’ll probably be ready to spearhead your face into an irrepressible wall.

The tribute did manage to get me thinking about one thing, though. Watching the footage of the mourners, most of whom were complete strangers to Diana, I couldn’t help but feel a little depressed. Not because Diana died, but because I can’t think of a single public figure here in the U.S. who could elicit such a response from us. I really can’t decide whether that’s a good or bad thing, since it seemed as if some of the mourners were taking Diana’s death too personally. Did her constant presence in the tabloids prior to her death make her a surrogate family member to some people? Was her death a trigger of a nationwide grief release valve? The people laying flowers at Buckingham were grieving as if they had lost a sister. I’d wager that some of them knew more about Diana than they did about some of their own family. Again, I don’t claim to understand the monarchy or its allure; it’s just an observation from an outsider. Maybe I’m the one who’s missing out.

Nevertheless, tributes don’t get a free pass to be crappy. Hearts could have been at the very least more entertaining, as the hodgepodge of interview subjects and terrible synthesizer score indicate that this was little more than a rush job to capitalize on the death of a public figure. Shame on you, Hallmark.

"I am not an animal! I am a human being! I… am… a man!!”

The Package

There’s nothing here. We’re lucky enough to get scene selections. The stereo Dolby track is serviceable, since no one’s going to be cranking their subwoofer for a Diana tribute. The cover art is a hovering Diana torso above a rose; like much of the rest of this feature, it looks like it was thrown together quickly.

3 out of 10