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Overall Rating

Awesome: 24.32%
Worth A Look: 17.57%
Average: 9.46%
Pretty Bad: 18.92%
Total Crap29.73%

3 reviews, 56 user ratings

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Ella Enchanted
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by EricDSnider

"'A Knight's Tale' meets 'Cinderella' -- meets and conflicts with, that is"
2 stars

To watch the witless, ham-fisted attempt at fairy-tale romance that is "Ella Enchanted," you'd never know the book it's based on is actually rather clever and charming. The travesty of the film -- which I hasten to add would be a bad movie even without comparing it to its source material -- isn't quite on the level of "The Cat in the Hat," but it is a crass whoring-out of a once-lovely story.

Set in the far-off kingdom of Frell, it is the tale of a poor teenage girl named Ella (Anne Hathaway), who upon her birth was given a "gift" by a visiting fairy named Lucinda (Vivica A. Fox). Lucinda blessed Ella that she would be unfailingly obedient all her life -- the result being that it is physically impossible for her to disobey even the most metaphorical of orders. Tell her to "hold her tongue," and she'll literally hold it with her fingers. Casually suggest she accompany you to the mall by saying, "Come with me to the mall," and she will have no choice but to comply, even if she doesn't want to.

Needless to say, this fairy gift is a curse, and it could be dangerous if the wrong people knew about it. The only people who do know about it are Ella's dead mother and a woman named Mandy (Minnie Driver) who I guess is like a nanny or a maid or something. (OK, I know what she is from reading the book, but the movie is unclear, and that's what we're reviewing.)

Alas, Ella's poverty-stricken father remarries for money, the haughty Dame Olga (Joanna Lumley) being the sap who weds him, for reasons I cannot fathom. She has two daughters to serve as wicked stepsisters in this Cinderella arrangement, dumb Olive (Jennifer Higham) and mean Hattie (Lucy Punch), the latter of whom figures out Ella's secret burden and begins to exploit it. And so Ella goes off in search of Lucinda to persuade her to take back the gift.

There is a prince in all this, Prince Charmont (Hugh Dancy), who is a teen idol in the kingdom and whose path keeps crossing with Ella's. Char's father was recently devoured by ogres, so the story goes, so his uncle Edgar (Cary Elwes) and Edgar's exceedingly fey talking pet snake are in charge. If you are literate enough to suspect a "Hamlet" scenario is also in effect here, kudos to you for not being distracted by the presence of a talking snake.

Adapted from Gail Carson Levine's book by Laurie Craig, Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith (the latter two also wrote "Legally Blonde" and "10 Things I Hate About You"), the script is an utter mess, hitting most of the points required by the story but subsequently forgetting about half of them. The issue of equality among the various species -- humans, ogres, giants and elves -- is trifled with but never properly addressed. And what happened with Ella's friend Areida, played by "Bend It Like Beckham's" Parminder K. Nagra? Hattie makes Ella shun her, but they're friends again at the end of the movie, a loose end that apparently got tied up when we weren't looking.

For some reason, there are two musical numbers in the film sung by Anne Hathaway, even though -- follow me closely here -- Anne Hathaway is a poor singer. I guess someone noticed that most female teen stars these days are singing in their movies -- Mandy Moore, Lindsay Lohan, Hillary Duff, etc. -- and hence decided Hathaway should, too, without stopping to consider whether it was a good idea.

Some of director Tommy O'Haver's ("Get Over It," "Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss") interpolations are amusing, especially as he depicts Frell as a cross between modern and medieval sensibilities. (They have escalators, for example, but they are made of wood and hand-cranked.) The thing is, that stuff doesn't belong in this movie. It belongs in a more raucous comedy. It goes under the same heading as O'Haver's other "edgy" ideas, like showing an ogre's butt crack, having a baby pee on someone, and depicting the fart of a giant. They make a simple story seem ragged and juvenile.

Like most films aimed at girls age 7-17, this one assumes they're idiots and talks down to them. I'm not saying teenage girls AREN'T idiots, but that's no reason for their movies to treat them like it.

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originally posted: 04/09/04 15:48:13
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User Comments

7/31/19 Suzanne Anne is pretty and charming, but the movie is schizoid. 3 stars
11/10/14 Dr. Lao Didn't laugh once...I mean not even once! 1 stars
6/13/11 art Anne Hathaway Is a Beautiful PRincess! 3 stars
7/24/10 the dork knight Anachronistic pop culture references, ha ha. It's all been done before, and better too. 2 stars
1/13/09 Anonymous. a really good cinderella-ish story. predictable yet likable..for me anyway :P 4 stars
5/14/07 David Pollastrini Anne Hathaway is hot in this! 3 stars
11/23/06 someone this movie is very bad and has many plotholes 1 stars
5/14/06 mooniestar_69 This movie redefines the word crap! Seriously... 1 stars
4/18/06 no Anne hathaway is just a show piece, the movie sucks, READ THE EXCELLENT BOOK 2 stars
4/16/06 I'm not tellin my name cuz i'm not an idiot. I hope you all burn who said Ella reeked. Go to hell. 5 stars
1/26/06 sy the movie is ultra shallow 1 stars
1/24/06 David Bassler thoroughly enjoyable 4 stars
12/24/05 Jim Why, Westley, why? Go back to Buttercup! 3 stars
11/22/05 C.F. This movie is horrible! The book was excellent but the movie is shallow and stupid! 1 stars
3/25/05 Valerie The book is WAY better. Skip the movie, just read the book! 2 stars
3/21/05 reptilesni I was surprised by how fun this movie was! 5 stars
2/02/05 Jeff Anderson The most enjoyable family film I've seen in a long time. ANNE HATHAWAY IS PITCH PERFECT!!!! 5 stars
10/12/04 Viv The BEST! 5 stars
8/22/04 Hyper The book was a LOT better than the movie. I feel sorry for Gail Carson Levine! 2 stars
7/02/04 Priscilla Postlethwaite Second half promising but can't quite rebound from putrid first half. AH gives her best tho 3 stars
6/24/04 Iman If I'd sold the rights to the book, I'd cry myself to sleep every night. 1 stars
5/21/04 kitty greatest movie ever this year 5 stars
5/09/04 Mary Brown I LOVED IT!!! 5 stars
5/06/04 Erin B. This movie was a piss poor adaptation of a great book. Cute, though. 2 stars
5/04/04 Karen Meir This is a great movie, it's my new favorite movie 5 stars
5/01/04 Rebecca Wonderful book, bad movie. 2 stars
4/30/04 illyria this movie sucks more cock than hathaway herself 1 stars
4/30/04 ertwert wrew it is the best movie ever 5 stars
4/27/04 Miss smarty The movie is realy ever thinks it's bad realy sucks!! 5 stars
4/26/04 Georgia It was interesting...but NOT AT ALL LIKE THE BOOK! 4 stars
4/23/04 Shauna I thought it was cute, but I'm rather in love with the book. I say read the book. 4 stars
4/23/04 Dawn an unspeakable butchering of a good book 1 stars
4/23/04 janet arkez It is booty i fell asleep 1 stars
4/20/04 Christina Hathaway's getting star in crap movies 1 stars
4/19/04 paganchyk Somewhere between "Ever After" and "Princess Bride" - cute 4 stars
4/19/04 uh huh very good 5 stars
4/19/04 critical movie reviewer the worst movie I have ever seen. a waste of time. i feel sorry for the book. 1 stars
4/19/04 molly great movie and very entertaining 5 stars
4/18/04 Danielle It was really good! 5 stars
4/17/04 R.J. ROCKS! Go see it! 5 stars
4/17/04 Dylan I Liked it 5 stars
4/17/04 Michael Pleasant, imaginative fantasy w/some bad jokes but it's still fun. Hathaway's very charming 5 stars
4/16/04 Bobbi a fun vehicle, but not serious, Anne Hathaway is good 3 stars
4/16/04 X You would get better entertainment from crapping in a projector 1 stars
4/15/04 A thirteen-year-old says: its so horribly different from the book, if it was closer to the book, i might see it again 2 stars
4/15/04 monica i read the book & saw the movie they are both good but nothing alike 5 stars
4/14/04 Emily I think I'll read the book again, thank you. This movie sucked. 2 stars
4/13/04 Fred Bob I dunno but we did our civiv duty and made a tard happy 1 stars
4/11/04 Annie Cohen I believe the rating you gave this movie was absolutley horrid!This is a wonderful movie!!! 5 stars
4/11/04 Katie Awful and nothing at all like the wonderful book!!! I am so mad!!!! 1 stars
4/11/04 Hope Jenner IT changed my life.I owe everything to this incredible movie. God Bless ELLA!! 5 stars
4/11/04 You know it's bad when... ...the target audience leaves for popcorn and doesn't come back! 1 stars
4/10/04 Allison & Chrissy This movie was horrible and nothing like the book, which was great. It was a poopy mess! 1 stars
4/10/04 Vinnie I don't know about the movie, but Anne Hathaway has a great rack!!! 4 stars
4/05/04 Ray Nice and sweet 4 stars
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  09-Apr-2004 (PG)
  DVD: 24-Aug-2004



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