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Ella Enchanted (2004)

Get enchanted

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 98 minutes

US Certificate: PG UK Certificate: PG

Shrek meets The Princess Bride is perhaps the best way to describe ‘Ella Enchanted’, the latest live-action flick to jump on the fantastical fairytale bandwagon. And, though not in the same league as either of the two films it borrows so heavily from, this latest family-friendly vehicle for Anne Princess Diaries Hathaway makes for some fun festive viewing.

Based loosely on the kiddies’ book by Gail Carson Levine, it stars Hathaway as Ella, a girlie living in a fantasy realm divided-and-ruled by the nasty rotter Sir Edgar (Cary Elwes), who has exiled all “non-human” creatures to the forest (see what I was saying about the Shrek similarities?). In this world, giants are used as slaves, ogres treated as savages, and elves forced to work as entertainers (surely representing a missed opportunity for Prince to resurrect his acting career?). But Ella has problems of her own – namely the fact that, as a baby, her Fairy Godmother Lucinda (Vivica A. Fox) bestowed upon her “the gift of obedience”. In other words, she has to go through life doing everything and anything people tell her to. Some gift that is, eh? In fact, it’s almost as bad as the jumper I got for Chrimbo a couple of years ago, but that’s another story.

Anyway, having finally had enough of wicked step-sister Hattie (Lucy Punch) basically using the “gift” to take the piss, Ella decides to travel across the kingdom to find the midriff-baring Lucinda and try to talk her into lifting the spell. Of course, it’s not a journey without its distractions, most notably in the form of a blossoming romance with evil Edgar’s nice-but-dim nephew Prince Char (Hugh Dancy).

Featuring another charm-soaked display from Hathaway, some reasonably funny dialogue, and an always-welcome bout of Queen Karaoke, ‘Ella Enchanted’ is a surprisingly amusing time-filler. The story could perhaps be a little stronger (we’re never really given much of a reason for why this particular spell was cast in the first place), and some of the supporting performances are a little bland (Dancy makes for a forgettable and unconvincing love interest), but I’d recommend it to anyone who’s after some harmless fun to keep the young ‘uns occupied during the upcoming Chrissie holidays. I’d happily watch this one again.

It's Got: A less-than-subtle underlying message about how we should all be more understanding of other peoples and cultures. And so we should, too.

It Needs: To ditch the pop-culture references. They date the film and are neither intelligent nor funny enough to be deemed worthwhile.


Derivative and disposable it may be, but ‘Ella Enchanted’ is a surprisingly entertaining fairytale flick for the whole fam.