Anne Hathaway and Hugh Dancy in Ella Enchanted (2004)

Not That Enchanting

For those who have never heard of yet read Gail Carson Levine book of which "Ella Enchanted" is adapted from the simple way to describe the movie is "Cinderella" with some twists which tries to mix in the contemporary comedy and soundtrack as "Shrek" did. On paper it sounds like it should work and be an amusing fairytale adventure which whilst aimed at a young audience has enough going on to amuse adults as well. It doesn't achieve that double whammy as whilst amusing for children it doesn't have the same charm and wicked sense of fun which captures an adult eyes and mind.

When she was a baby Ella of Frell (Anne Hathaway) was paid a visit by her fairy godmother Lucinda (Vivica A. Fox) who seeing that Ella wouldn't stop crying bestowed the gift of obedience on her. Unfortunately now having grown up into a teen the gift of obedience is a burden as she has to do what ever is commanded of her which is lots of bad things thanks to her nasty step sisters. With the aid of house fairy Mandy (Minnie Driver) she goes on a quest to find Lucinda and get the gift of obedience lifted. She also finds herself falling for Prince Char (Hugh Dancy) who is about to become king but has a slight problem in his scheming uncle, Prince Regent Edgar (Cary Elwes) who wants the throne for himself.

Minnie Driver and Jimi Mistry in Ella Enchanted (2004)

So as I said the basic storyline to "Ella Enchanted" is basically Cinderella with the evil step-mother and nasty step-sisters but with a twist of Ella going on an adventure to have the spell of obedience lifted from her. That adventure, in fact the entire movie has plenty of quirky characters from ogres to singing minstrels as well as a comical elf and a handsome prince. In fact it has everything which a fun fairytale needs as well as the extra fun of Ella having the spell of obedience cursed over her which leads to various moments of comedy where she has to automatically obey what someone says.

Now all of this is done in a "Shrek" type of way with plenty of comical characters, contemporary references as well as various musical moments using recognizable tunes. And to be honest if I was a ten year old girl I would find "Ella Enchanted" a lot of fun but I am not or have ever been. Now unlike "Shrek" which was fun for adults as well as children "Ella Enchanted" just doesn't have that same charm and to be honest as an adult it comes across as trying too hard.

Despite that fact "Ella Enchanted" does have a good cast and everyone from Anne Hathaway to Jimi Mistry and many recognizable faces along the way give it their all. Combine the full on performances with some decent special effects and visually it works.

What this all boils down to is that "Ella Enchanted" is a fun movie for young girls who will enjoy the mix of fairytale adventure and comedy but lacks the charm to keep adults entertained.