Loosely based on the 1958 comedy The Reluctant Debutante starring Sandra Dee, the family-friendly comedy What a Girl Wants features popular Nickelodeon teen star Amanda Bynes in her first feature-starring performance after her debut in Big Fat Liar. She plays teenager Daphne Reynolds, who lives in New York City with her musician mother, Libby (Kelly Preston). After she turns 17, Daphne is undecided about her future, so she takes off by herself to London in search of her father. She immediately meets cute musician Ian (Oliver James) before sneaking in to her father's estate to surprise him. He turns out to be Lord Henry Dashwood (Colin Firth), a fabulously wealthy aristocrat who doesn't even know that she exists. He had met her mother in Morocco and the two were married in a tribal ceremony. Upon their return to England, she left him and went back to the U.S. without ever revealing that she was pregnant. The uptight Henry is already flustered by his campaign for election, advised by doting aide Alistair Payne (Jonathan Pryce). His no-nonsense fiancée, Glynnis (Anna Chancellor), and her bratty daughter, Clarissa (Christina Cole), are threatened by Daphne's presence, thinking that she will hurt Henry's political aspirations by causing a scandal. However, the family matriarch (Eileen Atkins) takes a liking to her and she soon finds herself trying to liven things up at several stuffy aristocratic parties. Meanwhile, the evil Glynnis and Clarissa conspire against her by trying to sabotage her appearance, leading up to the conclusion at Daphne's very own coming-out party.