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67 of 77 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A high energy family-friendly delight of a film!!
Not your typical Cinderella story...
What do you get when you mix a bit of fairy tale-Cinderella world with some Shrek, throw in some Princess Bride, a little bit of Disney's Robin Hood (see Hester the snake), along with a little singing, and some random modern-day references thrown in for good measure? You get Ella Enchanted, Miramax's newest gem of a film,...
Published on April 13, 2004 by randomartco

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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Worst movie from a book I've ever seen
"Ella Enchanted" is a lovely book, and my daughter and I enjoyed reading it. My husband brought home the video, and UGH! Everything that made the book a joy - the beautiful language, the sly humor, and noble Ella herself are warped and mutated beyond recognition. All subtlety and charm are lost. Don't buy this; check out the book from your library. The book on tape was...
Published on October 11, 2004 by Sonja Harken


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67 of 77 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A high energy family-friendly delight of a film!!, April 13, 2004
By 
Not your typical Cinderella story...
What do you get when you mix a bit of fairy tale-Cinderella world with some Shrek, throw in some Princess Bride, a little bit of Disney's Robin Hood (see Hester the snake), along with a little singing, and some random modern-day references thrown in for good measure? You get Ella Enchanted, Miramax's newest gem of a film, narrated by Eric Idle and starring the lovely Anne Hathaway and the dreamy Hugh Dancy.
Ella of Frell (Anne Hathaway) has a gift. Er, I mean, a curse. A gift, a curse, it all depends on how you look at it: no matter what you tell Ella to do, she must obey. A rather capricious fairy named Lucinda (Vivica A. Fox) gave baby Ella the "gift of obedience": anything spoken to Ella as a command, she must automatically do. Fast forward a few years: Ella is now a young lady, and no one except her aunt Mandy (Minnie Driver) knows about this gift/curse. Not even her best friend and fellow civil rights activist Arieda (played by "Bend It Like Beckham's" Parminder K. Nagra) is aware of her "problem." When her father brings home a wicked new stepmother (Joanna Lumley) and two evil stepsisters, Hattie (Lucy Punch) and Olive (Jennifer Higham), Ella must deal with their demanding ways, hopefully without giving away her secret!
Her stepsister Hattie is the very obsessive and very active president of the Prince Charmont fan club! She and her friends go absolutely ga-ga, every time they even think of the hunky prince (much less when they see him). Prince "Char" (Hugh Dancy) as they lovingly call him, is the heir apparent to the throne currently held for him by his evil uncle Edgar (Cary Elwes). The coronation day coming soon, and the kingdom in a bit of upheavel due to the heavy handed rule of Edgar, ogres, giants, and elves alike are all ready for a change! But will everyone accept Prince Charmont as their new king?
One magical day when Ella and Prince Charmont cross paths, it is love at first sight for Prince Char. But the feisty and proud Ella is not so quick to fall for the prince; she is sure he is as unfeeling and uncaring as his uncle is. And since Ella actively fights for ogres' rights, along with any other magical creature in her kingdom (giants, elves, etc.), she wants nothing to do with the handsome Char. But when their paths keep crossing again and again...what's a girl to do!?!
And so Ella of Frell sets out to find her fairy godmother Lucinda, to ask her to take back her "gift" of obedience, armed with Mandy's boyfriend book named Benny (who can picture anyone, anywhere) and elf pal Slannen, they encounter much along the way (including Prince Char!). They reach the land of the giants only to discover that Lucinda has already left, and Ella is forced by her obedience gift to stay and sing for the giants (her rendition of "Someone to Love," is entertaining and very well done!). But when Ella is finally commanded to do something that tests her very will...can she find Lucinda in time? Will she end up doing something she will forever regret?
Content: This film had very little objectionable content: there were a few general references that would be above most children's heads, very little language (a few words), and only some mild violence. Given a PG rating: "For some crude language and violence." A young girl (with some help) defeats ogres and fights various magical creatures, giants are shown slaving in a field, someone is "poisoned," and a giant falls in love with an elf.
A high energy family-friendly film that reminds you again, why every girl waits for her prince and wishes for that happily ever after (but has some serious fun in the process!). The modern day references did not detract from the story at all, but added a bit of fun and light-hearted teasing to an entertaining movie. I laughed and laughed at the sometimes silly and sometimes serious jokes that poked fun at various modern day places and things. One particular moment that caused a huge laugh: Ella and Arieda are leaving a building and travel down a "medieval escalator" (a wooden set of moving stairs, with a giant wheel turned by servants). From "Medieval Teen" magazine and trips to "Ye Olde Shopping Mall, to an elf who wants to be a lawyer and giants who love to sing, from the "VI Seasons" hotel and "Frell Community College," this energetic and colorful film will leave you laughing, and feeling light and free.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting performance by Anne!, August 7, 2004
This review is from: Ella Enchanted (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
In spite of the harsh criticism received for this movie for it's contradiction with the book I personally think it was a neat production judging in terms of cinematic creation. I never heard it being referred to as an adaptation, so why worry about if it ain't broke?

The most eye catching thing right throughout the movie was obviously Anne. Her acting has astonishingly improved since Princess Diaries, Nicholas Nickleby and the rest. Also you get to hear her amazing voice where she performance a beautiful solo and dancing of course ;).. talking about dancing, in the finale just try focusing on Jimi Mistry. you won't stop laughing!

I never pictured Hugh Dancy as prince charming, but you really get a laugh here. The entire film has a very fine blend of colors, you would notice it's very easy to watch and the picture quality is looks great. Even though not in depth, you will be taken into the worlds of both Giants and Elves, a pretty good contrast, and as always the good and the bad.

I do understand that many youngsters would be disappointed to see something quite different from the book, and even though the constantly obedient concept doesn't quite work for elders, credit should be given to a well directed fairy tale. It's a movie after all and it should be watched just like you would watch something new. If you do, it'll definitely put you in the good mood.
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41 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If Ella is not enchanted then Anne Hathaway certainly is, August 27, 2004
By 
This review is from: Ella Enchanted (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
There are two things that colored my perception of "Ella Enchanted." The first is that I just saw "A Cinderella Story" a couple of weeks ago, and since that was the worst movie made on the Cinderella theme in the history of the world anything else was going to look a lot better in comparison. But then director Tommy O'Haver has the advantage of being able to mine the gold from Gail Carson Levine's beloved children's novel, which provides enough creative sparks to make this movie something different. If you are going to tell the Cinderella story over again then you need to have a twist that justifies the effort, and "Ella Enchanted" has a couple of those.

Second, this really is a movie aimed at kids. I say this because the key twist in this story is that when Ella is born a rather second rate fairy named Lucinda (Vivica A. Fox) gives her the gift of obedience. This means that every time somebody tells Ella to do something, she has to do it. Now, for kids, younger kids, this is a truly nightmare scenario. Parents and other adults are always telling you to do something: what if they could MAKE you do whatever they wanted? Endless chores, homework, and probably music lessons would be your fate, which is essentially what happens to Ella when she grows up to be Anne Hathaway.

Hathaway is the star of this film and what promise she showed in "The Princess Dairies" is fulfilled her as she plays Ella as more of a civil rights advocate than a would be fairy princess. This is because in the other fun twist the regent, Prince Edgar (Carl Elwes, playing for the other side this time having done the hero bit in "The Princess Bride"), has ordered all the elves, ogres, giants and other non-humans to live in the forest, at least when they are not serving as slave labor in behalf of the kingdom. Ella knows this is wrong and while every other eligible maiden in the land is throwing themselves at the feet of Prince Charmont (Hugh Dancy), Ella is more interested in giving the heir a piece of her mind on the eve of his coronation.

Since this is a take off of a sort on Cinderella we have to have the wicked step mother (Joanna Lumley) and her daughters, the mean one, Hattie (Lucy Punch), and the stupid one, Olive (Jennifer Higham). One of the most problematic elements in the story is where the good and kindly father (Patrick Bergin) marries the wrong woman. When the fairy tale was first told it was commonplace for widows and widowers to marry (it worked well for young Abraham Lincoln), but now adays the logic of such marriages is a hit and miss proposition: we buy it in "Ever After" and we laugh at it in "A Cinderella Story." At least Ella's dad is not dead but simply off on business while his new wife and step-daughters treat Ella like she was a maid who gets dirty from the cinders in the fireplace.

I saw this 2004 film is aimed at kids because the injustices that Hattie heaps on Ella are going to drive the young ones right through the roof. I am old enough to know that things will work out for Ella in the end and I suspect most kids will know that too, but I am also old enough to want Hattie to get more of a comeuppance than she does in this film (or its alternative ending). But then I also know why the original Cinderella wore glass slippers (I cannot explain it because children might read this review; if you ever read the original story of "The Little Mermaid" then you know that most of the classic fairy tales talk a walk on the dark side).

There are lots of creative little touches that help this film along. Mandy (Minnie Driver), the inept house fairy who tries to look after Ella, has a boyfriend named Benny (Jimi Mistry), who is trapped in a book. Open the book and Benny can show you where somebody is and what they are doing, which becomes helpful as Ella tries to find Lucinda to take back her gift and help save the day at the end of the film. What I really liked is how the enchantment is broken, which worked on at least two significant levels, which is two more than you usually get in a Hollywood film.

The only reason "Ella Enchanted" is not a truly superb film is because we have seen bits and pieces of this fractured fairy tale approach in things like "Into the Woods" and "Shrek." I would also toss out a working hypothesis that there are only so many variations on the Cinderella theme that you are willing to admit to the first level. For me that would be "Pretty Woman" and "Ever After" (having Hector Elizondo or Leonardo Da Vinci in the fairy godmother role appeals to me), but for young kids they might fall in love with "Ella Enchanted" in the same way.

Anne Hathaway makes that easy to do, especially when her character is forced to belt out a cover of Queen's "Somebody to Love." She has those big eyes and that bright smile and spins enough magic in this movie to make up for a by-the-numbers wasted sequel like "The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement." Obviously she needs to break out of the "princess" mode and her next film, "Havoc," should provide that: she plays a wealthy L.A. teen who imitates the gangsta lifestyle of hip hop culture with her friends and then encounters a gang of real Latino drug dealers in the big bad city. Yep, that should break Hathaway out of the princess rut.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 5-year-old girl: thumbs up! 10-year-old boy: thumbs down!, April 20, 2004
By 
My "pilot test" of this movie included myself (the mom), my 10-year-old son, and my 5-year-old daughter. My daughter and I truly enjoyed the blend of old-style fairy-tale romance and grrlpower: Ella, a spunky orphan under the thrall of a spell that forces her to obey every command she is given, falls for and wins her handsome prince but does so by realizing her own abilities.
Even the costumes and sets seem to blend fairy tale romance and a kind of 'pop' culture in a campy, don't-care-if-it's-authentic-so-long-as-it's-fun kind of way. The costumes look vaguely medieval until, say, Ella's full-length gown transforms into a mod kicky skirt and the whole crowd starts singing and dancing something that vaguely resembles the Electric Slide.
The whole thing was met with stern disapproval by my son, however, who found the whole thing far too focused on the romance between Ella and Prince Charmont for his tastes. "Too Much Kissing," he complained.
For the record, "too much" kissing means two kisses!
If you are a huge fan of the book, be prepared to suffer differences between the plot in the book vs. the movie. And if you're a boy, beg off.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Worst movie from a book I've ever seen, October 11, 2004
"Ella Enchanted" is a lovely book, and my daughter and I enjoyed reading it. My husband brought home the video, and UGH! Everything that made the book a joy - the beautiful language, the sly humor, and noble Ella herself are warped and mutated beyond recognition. All subtlety and charm are lost. Don't buy this; check out the book from your library. The book on tape was also excellent.
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28 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite movie of 2004 so far, April 20, 2004
By 
John Wiley (not so far away) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This movie is seriously, a great movie. From the very beginning we are sucked into this world of magic and fantasy and we stay there until the end when the narrator tells us we have to go back to the real world.
We join Ella on a magical journey to find her godmother to remove a spell that was cast on her as a baby. As she travels across the country she meets elves, ogres, giants, and the handsome prince (in leather pants).
Hathaway makes Ella real and gives her emotion, crucial to make this more than just a fairy tale. She makes Ella someone we can all relate to by giving her depth. Her best acting comes when the Evil Uncle discovers her curse and when she has to stab Char (in the leather pants). It was beautifully shot.
Of course this movie is more humor than seriousness. And the humor is excellent. For most of the movie the entire theater was laughing at the jokes, which is a good thing for a comedy.
Of course I can't end a review for this movie without mentioning the singing. Hathaway sings a song at the giant wedding, she is excellent. When I first found out Anne was going to sing in this movie I was nervous for her. But she does an excellent job. As does everyone else (including Char in the leather pants) when the whole cast sings at the end.
Go, go see this movie. And Anne Hathaway. And the prince. In leather pants.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars read the book, October 28, 2004
I read the book years ago and it remains one of the only young adult books still on my bookshelves. The movie barely touches the characters that are so richly developed in the book. And the plot that has led me to read the book more times than I can remember is tossed out completely. If I had not read the book before seeing the movie I would have seen the plot of the movie as barely developed and confusing because it merely picks and chooses scenes from the book seemingly at random and throws them at the viewer. Beyond that the makers of the movie have changed the entire basis of the story to make it focus on human rights issues instead of the touching coming of age story that it was originally. And do not mistake me, I usualy hate coming of age stories (highschool will wreck them for anyone) but the book is amazing. I hate to say that the movie is just not worth seeing because I was really looking forward to it when I first heard it was coming out. All I can say in the end is that I hope the movie does not ruin the experience of reading the book.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice. Very Nice., April 14, 2004
By A Customer
Yes, I saw the movie last night. True; I do admit that it is not the same as the book, and perhaps if you are an "Ella Enchanted" purist - I respect your views and all - you might not like the movie very much.
I've also read the book, and it follows - for the most part - the same storyline. So, even though I "knew" what was going to happen, I was still bitting my nails with the suspense of it all. Which was a good thing. It holds the same spirit of "Ella Enchanted," which is sort of "anti-Grimm's Brothers" and allowing the story's leading lady to be strong, couragous, and, occasionally, rebellious.
The leading lady - Anne Hathaway - was cute and did her role very well, and they had a pretty good leading man with Hugh Dancy. The giants and elves where sort of hard to believe, but Ella's singing and dancing was great. The evil King Edward was a great villain, and this ellaborated on the part of the book that author mentioned: what if Ella married the prince with her curse and some one made her kill him, or something like that? So, Edward tells Ella when the prince proposes to her, that she stab him with a daggar.
The attack on pop culture and, specifically, male teen idols, was a very nice contemporary twist. The girls in the story were crazy for Prince Char, which parallels how some girls are crazy over, Justin Timberlake, Ashton Kutcher, etc. for example.
On the whole, it was a very enjoyable, feel-good movie. Insprational, as well, that young women shouldn't sit and wait for the "Prince to some day come," but to step out in the world [action packed] on the way - and be their own hero.
Three cheers for the echanting Ella!
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26 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lost the Charm, July 9, 2005
Ella Enchanted is by far one of my favorite books of all time. In fact, I read my original copy so much, I had to purchase a new one after I started losing the cover, copyright page, first chapter ... The story is truly heartwarming and genuine.

However, if it is your intention to enjoy this tale, please read the book. Because this movie, despite the fact that all the characters have the same name, is so completely different from the book that it's a disgrace. The movie is dolled up and modernized until it's unrecognizable from the simple story of a girl finding herself into a hiphop mistake that flounders in a world that Gail Carson Levine did NOT write.

The lead character, by far the most important, a young woman who is supposed to have backbone and strength of heart, is very poorly played by Anne (sorry if it's actually 'Ann') Hathaway whose self-consciousness is so evident on screen it's uncomfortable to the viewer. Her talent only spreads so far in a story that means so much. As she struggles to portray one of the most beloved females of modern literature among young girls today she fails miserably (though the horrible reconstruction of the story itself has something to do with that as it attempts to incorporate political intrigue in the lighthearted tale.)

The one redeeming quality of the movie is the tongue-in-cheek attitude some of the actors exhibited. (Ms. Hathaway was not one.) Hugh Dancy was fairly good (and quite good-looking--in fact I liked his performance, but being as I'm a young teenage girl and in love with fairytales, I'm biased) and seemed to play his role of prince less seriously and more as a joke, which was perhaps the initial intention of the film. Yet it is Ms. Hathaway with her uncomfortable presence and awkward acting that pulls the movie down.

Its other small problems, including a very pleasant view of huge, naked ogre rears, might have been overlooked, but in the end the movie Ella Enchanted is nothing but a sad memory of the book loved by so many.

If you must watch it, please try to think of it as another story entirely.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars If you like the book, don't waste your time on this movie..., December 18, 2006
This review is from: Ella Enchanted (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
... otherwise you will be sorely disappointed.

Ella Enchanted (the book) is one of my favorite novels, ever. Gail Carson Levine is a talented author who can craft great female characters in moving children's stories.

The movie, unfortunately, feels like a sell-out.

In an interview related to the release of this movie, Levine stated that she allowed the movie producers/directors to have a lot of liberty with the story. The only thing she wanted kept was that Ella be obedient. From the book, that is the only aspect that is kept.

Ella Enchanted follows Anne Hathaway in the title role as she grows up dealing with a fairy's "blessing" - the gift of obedience. This "gift" means that she must instantly obey whatever command is thrown at her, be it a true order or an off-hand comment. From looking silly ("admit you're stupid") to something more sinister, Ella is in constant danger - plus, it's a rather annoying trait to have. On the road to finding her fairy godmother and hoping for the curse to be removed, she meets the prince of the land, saves him from a royal conspiracy, and gets a happy ending in the bargain.

While the book is intended for a middle school audience, the movie feels like it's for children younger than that. Ella of the book is sassy, and fights the curse in any way she can by either delaying her obedience or finding a clever way of carrying out someone's orders while denying the true spirit of their command. Anne Hathaway's Ella is little more than a puppet, even acting like one whenever she carries out someone's order. There's little spirit in her character and you have to wonder how she's even able to carry out her quest. If she won't fight back in her day-to-day life, how can she fight back when the entire kingdom is at stake?

The movie also takes some liberty with the world of Ella Enchanted that Levine so carefully crafts in her books. There's other languages, other races, other species. Unfortunately, one of the other species (the elves) are reduced to a comical sidekick kind of role, instead of the stately part they play in the original story. One of Ella's greatest talents is learning other languages, which doesn't even come into play in the movie. And the movie assumes some things which, if you've never read the book before, just don't make sense. (In particular, the scene where Ella is forced to tell her friend Arieda they must end their friendship because she could never be friends with an Ayorthaian. Since the movie never sets up the prejudice against Ayorthaians found in the book, the scene doesn't make sense. For all we know, Ella Enchanted the movie could be set in Ayortha!)

The characters are very one-dimensional and obvious. While the stepmother and stepsister are very sterotypical in the book, the protagonists (Ella, Mandy the fairy and Prince Char) have depth to them. Mandy in particular is a no-nonsense, practical mentor and second mother to Ella. But in the movie, Minnie Driver as Mandy the fairy is reduced to comic relief, as she can't even get her magic to work right.

I suppose as family entertainment the movie is decent. But I think the producers of this movie had a chance to make a quality children's film and instead chose to make a glitzy, stylized piece of fluff. The book is powerful, moving, and has some great lessons on rising above adversity, selflessness, and finding your place in the world. The movie has none of that except for a few hours of mindless drivel. Do yourself a favor and either read the novel with your children or buy it for them. They'll get a lot more out of this story that way.
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Ella Enchanted (Widescreen Edition)
Ella Enchanted (Widescreen Edition) by Tommy O'Haver (DVD - 2004)
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