Once upon a time there is a princess forced to live like a pauper by her evil stepmother and two stepsisters. She goes to a ball, marries a prince, and lives happily ever after. Blah Blah Blah. Thatís the story of Cinderella, a story used so many times it is now dull and very weak. But this movie, based very loosely on the splendid book by Gail Carson Levine, gives it a new, more interesting, twist: Ella was forced to be obedient by a gift gone awry.
Ella, played by the immensely talented and always royal Anne Hathaway, is a young girl when her mother dies and her father remarries a dreadful woman with two evil daughters. Meanwhile, Prince Char, played by Hugh Dancy, is a hot young prince with a fan base rivalling that of Ashton Kutcherís. And Ella is the only female in the world that is not totally crushing on him. Now you know theyíre going to fall in love.
So as Ella embarks upon a journey to find the fairy that gave her this gift of obedience, and try to reverse it, audiences become even more bewildered. This book lacks the depth of Gail Carson Levineís book and almost totally breaks away from it, adding themes that were not even hinted at in the book. If youíve read the book, this movie will be immensely disappointing, but if you havenít, it will provide good, but completely forgettable, laughs.
The most bewildering thing about this movie is that it isnít fantastic, seeing the cast and the story it was based on. Almost every single actor in ìElla Enchantedî gave a great performance. The premise of the story is interesting. And yet this movie is just okay. This is mainly because the movie is straining to be so funny, that it loses its natural funniness-the little quirks and things that give it life. I admit, it does have some redeeming features. Anne Hathaway and Hugh Dancy have very good chemistry, and Char seems to be truly baffled and put off by his fans. His uncle introduces him as if he were a rock star. An Elf wants to be a lawyer. The Giantesses dress like Hollywood starlets.
This movie may have some nice features, but there are some low points, too, spontaneous singing and dancing being the majority of them, the cringe-inducing CGI snake being the rest. This movie is the ideal movie to go to with a little kid, and they will laugh out loud at some of the jokes. It wonít enchant you, but itís a fun one anyway.
This is Natalie Johnson for Movie Magazine.
© 2004 - Natalie Johnson - Air Date: 4/21/04
USA - 2004