Prince Charming had met Cinderella in the world of Shrek, and you added
humor, imagination, and a soundtrack of 70s music, you’d have one tasty and satisfying
casserole of a movie.
Ella Enchanted is based on the popular novel
by Gail Carson Levine. It’s one of those fractured fairy tales with a modern day
sensibility. It takes the seemingly familiar, gives it a twist—and mostly succeeds.
The lead character is a twenty-something, intelligent girl (Anne
Hathaway), who was cursed at birth with the “gift” of obedience. She must do whatever
she is told. When her mother dies and father remarries, it’s the elder of two
stepsisters, Hattie, who exploits this knowledge. This drives Ella directly into the
path of the soon-to-be king, Prince Charming (Hugh Dancy).
Ella must find
her not-so-nice fairy godmother (who gave her the curse) so it can be removed. Her quest
leads her to an elf who wants to be a lawyer, a band of hungry ogres, and once again, the
Prince. Charming and the elf accompany Ella to a lively wedding in Giantville, where
humans are neither expelled nor welcomed. Sadly, the fairy godmother has already left
the scene, and, after a musical number, a new plan is devised.
fortunes rise, then fall, until a startling self-discovery, culminating with a
confrontation with the evil king before Charming’s coronation ceremony. Will Ella expose
the king for his past deeds? And will Prince Charming believe her? Will giants and
ogres help save the day?
I went to the film with my wife and
eleven-year-old daughter, plus a friend. My daughter (who read the book last year) told
me afterwards that she was a little disappointed that the movie strayed from the original
story in places. But she also said it was “fun and adventurous.” I agree. Also, it
kept my interest throughout, which says a lot.
Not all family films end
up being “fun for the whole family”—but this one was.