Retro Review: Ella Enchanted

Ella (Anne Hathaway) is a quiet but often opinionated girl. Her father (Patrick Bergin) has left her with her twisted stepmother (Joanna Lumley) and her two stepsisters, Hattie (Lucy Punch) and Olive (Jennifer Higham) while he ventured off in the kingdom as a salesman. Ella desperately hides her curse as she tries to duck her new stepfamily.

What is her curse, pray tell? Obedience, even if it happens to be unreasonable and impractical.

But when Ella comes face to face with hunkish Prince Charmont (Hugh Darcy), Ella must find a way to end her curse, stop the evil Edgar (Cary Elwes) and finally be free so she can love the prince. Gasp, what is a girl to do?

Did someone drop me out a window on my head or is that the actual storyline of the new fantasy-comedy, “Ella Enchanted”?

How does one look at a film like this without screaming the word “cheese” from the highest rooftops. That is the perfect way to describe this comedy. If you peal back the cheddar and see the film for the context that it is in then quite possibly you may understand the story. But in some scenes and especially during the idiotic “I must obey because I am cursed” scenes it can get really hard to do just that.

Those scenes got old really quickly and it was really hard not to see the morally corrupt message that the story could have on impressionable young girls. Unquestionable obedience is not a practical message to presenting to any generation. Think before you obey because it is your right. Always question is what we should teach. What if this was a girl cursed with always asking too many questions wouldn’t that be more practical? Then her cure would be to finally have her most precious question answered. Ok it maybe hokey but at least it makes more sense when we are talking “Ella Enchanted”.

I really enjoy the performances of Anne Hathaway in the past and that does include “The Princess Diaries” which is a lot better than Ella. Still my favorite performance by the young starlet was on her short-lived but exceptional series, “Get Real”. I knew she was going to happen from the pilot of that show and she hasn’t proven me wrong yet. Her performance in “Ella Enchanted” is as good as it can be for a film like this. She is great as Ella just that she a strong performance can’t overcome how goofy the whole film is.

I am not sure if there are any of you out there that remember a TV series from the 80s called, “The Charmings”. The series was about Snow White, Prince Charming and their kids being flung across time to our world where they try to fit in. It was a cheesy little series that was hypnotically enduring for that period of television. “Ella” reminded me in spades of that show especially when a lot of modern day applications have crossed over into Ella’s fairy tale world. In some ways, “Ella” can be hypnotic as well.

The world displayed in this film maybe made of cheddar but it can be entertaining. Was I entertained with “Ella”? In some ways yes but the goofy obedience spell, the annoying disappearing giants who are in one scene but not in the next, Elwes’s daft pet snake and Ella’s relatives all but stopped me from seeing any real magic in Ella. There should have been less gimmicks and more practicality.

When you do end up questioning yourself about seeing “Ella Enchanted”, you don’t have to obey, you aren’t cursed.

(1.5 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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