Ella Enchanted

| April 10, 2004

Great premises make for wonderful trailers, but sometimes make for only so-so movies. Ella, as in Cinderella, is under a spell that makes her perfectly obedient. Tell her to put away her clothes, she does it. Tell her to practice her mandolin, she has bow in hand in an instant. As she gets older, this curse is getting her in trouble and is in danger of ending her life. So she sets off to find the fairy who gave her this childhood “gift” in order to have it reversed. All we need now is the dead witch, ruby slippers and a yellow brick road.
Ella Enchanted is based loosely on the child classic and has all of the familiar story plots. It also has some very new and cool plot twists and special effects to keep the interest of the preteen and early teen target audience. But for adults, keeping your attention between sight gags is going to be difficult. The best twist is magic book that is Ella’s main travel companion. It is a cross between a Zagat Guide and Mapquest.
Ella is played by Anne Hathaway (Princess Diaries). She is quite beautiful and judging from the music credits, also a good singer. She performs a great version of the Queen classic Somebody to Love. Oh, did I mention that the movie is filled with modern (mostly 80’s that fit the current theme) rock songs? Some are originals but most are remakes. It’s like A Knight’s Tale Lite which is typical for this film, there are lots of familiar themes that are not done as well as the originals. Come to think of it, Hathaway is kind of a Julia Roberts Lite. On the subject of the music, the final sequence in the movie contains the worst lip-synching since the Britney Spears special on Showtime this month.
The Prince is played by Hugh Dancy (Black Hawk Down), the evil stepsisters are newcomers Lucy Punch and Jennifer Higham and the evil step mom is Joanna Lumley (Eurotrip). All are not memorable enough as to not being replaceable. The Prince’s evil uncle Prince Regent Edgar is played by Cary Elwes (Princess Bride, Robin Hood: Men in Tights). I think he was too young for the role but plays the scheming bad guy very well.
My best suggestion would be to wait for the DVD. There are lots of visually exciting graphics to go back and watch closely and what seemed to be dozens of little details that would probably be quite funny if you had the time to stop the movie and check them out. But they get in the way of the story so you don’t get the time to enjoy them fully. The opening sequence is a great example. We are taken on a fast aerial trip of the land of Ella. The landscape is beautiful and would be worth going through again. Kudos also go to The Moving Pictures Company (Big Fish, Harry Potter) who put together incredible CGI for Heston, a snake who is Edgar’s chief henchman.

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