The most polished superpower on display in the defiantly unexciting “Secret Society of Second-Born Royals” is the ability to say its title without spitting. Taking privilege to a whole new level, Anna Mastro’s brainless addition to the superhero genre drops us in a fictional European country where Sam (Peyton Elizabeth Lee), 15, is second in line to the throne.
Princess by day and punk rocker by night, Sam is such a populist she reads Hemingway and hangs out with the son of the palace groundskeeper (Noah Lomax). Bundled off to a supersecret training camp where portraits of other rebellious royals — Princess Margaret, Prince Harry — adorn the walls, Sam discovers she possesses an elite gene that skips the heir to bestow supernatural powers on the spare. Alongside a handful of similarly gifted second-borns (the young cast is way better than the material), she learns to control her talents and subdue her prejudices. Like a “Breakfast Club” with invisibility instead of self-loathing.
A weird blend of toddler temptations (weaponized butterflies, lots of princesses) and adult politics (anti-monarchist protests, a bomb threat at a coronation), “Second-Born Royals” doesn’t know how to be kid-friendly without being dumb. (“I’m leaving soon,” one member says, “which means I’m not going to be here.”) Posh British accents, lame training sequences and an interminable day at the beach fill the screen while the movie’s menacingly stubbly Big Bad (Greg Bryk) awaits his cue to cause mayhem.
Cliché-ridden and sequel-ready, this incoherent origin story should proceed, if at all, by exploring those portraits on the Society’s walls. Because if Prince Harry has a superpower, it actually explains quite a lot.
Secret Society of Second-Born Royals
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 36 minutes. Watch on Disney+.