Ella Enchanted

Ella Enchanted (2004)

“You shouldn’t believe everything you read in Medieval Teen

Fact 1: As I work my way through The List of movies I’ve been meaning to see Anne Hathaway is going to pop up quite a bit, because, believe it or not, prior to today I hadn’t seen a single movie that she’s been in. Which really just goes to show why I needed to set forth on this whole endeavor.

Fact 2: I’ve somehow managed to begin this blog by reviewing four consecutive R-Rated movies. That wasn’t my intention and The List is far more diverse than that, so it’s high time I mixed things up a bit.

Fact 3: When I was on vacation a week ago I kept hearing PSAs on the radio encouraging kids to read by basically running promo for the book Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. I’ve got a list of books I’ve been meaning to read, but it’s going to have to keep growing for a while yet.

In light of those facts have just completed viewing Ella Enchanted the quirky cinematic fairy-tale starring Anne Hathaway.

Hathaway plays the eponymous Ella, a denizen of a strangely contemporary fantasy world, cursed by her fairy godmother with the gift of obedience. Which means that she’s magically bound to obey any instruction or order she’s given, (even if it means freezing in mid-air). Ella isn’t helped by her dying mother’s order that she never tell anyone about this curse. Somehow Ella gets all the way to Community College before someone, (her newly arrived wicked step-sister,) figures out that Ella will do literally anything she’s told to do.  The story from there is entirely predictable, your typical fairy-tale crudely stapled to modern liberal girl-power. (The Prince falls in love with Ella because she’s the only one not swooning over him because she’s too busy fighting for Ogres’ rights.) (And because she looks like Anne Hathaway.) Despite a great comedic performance by Hathaway who manages to bring real depth to the character, and one genuinely fun musical number, (Ella’s command performance of Queen’s “Somebody to Love”) this just isn’t a film I can recommend. The plot becomes increasingly formulaic as it progresses and the silly-fun moments are replaced with just plain silly moments. The normally fantastic Cary Elwes is disappointingly bad as the evil regent Sir Edgar. It seems like he’s stuck between playing up the campy moutache-twirling villainy and a more straight forward and menacing figure.  And the final musical number (an autotuned-to-death rendition of “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” is just bad enough to knock the movie out of “worth watching” territory.

Overall I almost enjoyed this movie. Anne Hathaway really was great, and there were some fun moments, but there just wasn’t enough good there to call it a good movie. There really isn’t anything bad here, just an insufficient amount of good. But then this just isn’t my type of movie, and I’m quite sure that I wasn’t the target audience. I’m sure that if I were a fifteen-year-old girl I would have loved this movie, but I’m not, and I didn’t.  Sorry Anne, maybe next time.

[‘Ella Enchanted (2004) – Directed by Tommy O’Haver – Rated PG for some crude humor and language]

OM|ED Rating: Not Worth Seeing