Ella Enchanted (2004) Poster

User Reviews

Add a Review
245 ReviewsOrdered By: Helpfulness
A cute fantasy
Désirée Greverud14 June 2004
Boy, I'm glad I saw this movie before reading the comments here. I found this film to be delightfully funny and sweet. sure it's utter predictable but so what? Yes, in the 'fractured fairy tale' department it's a far cry from the genius of Princess Bride or Shrek, but it's an entertaining enough 90 minutes. The effects are decent (they can't all be Lord of the Rings perfect) and I found myself laughing frequently.

I'm certainly glad I was completely unaware that this was based on a book as most of the negative comments here seem to be from people who complain about changes. I can say, that not knowing the original, this story flowed just fine. Certainly, if one were to over-analyze the plot one could come up with innumerable ideas based on the idea 'if she must always obey, why doesn't this happen?' but that's not really the point here is it? it's a fairy tale for young girls. My partner's 18 year old little sister (who made me watch this as I never would have on my own) loved it, and I had to admit that I liked it enough to give it a thumbs up 7 out of 10 rating.
48 out of 57 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A Ton of Fun
americanaussie8827 January 2005
I had so much fun watching this movie, a piece of light hearted fun that everyone can enjoy. *If* they remember the opening lines of the movie; this is a fairytale. And is therefore not to be taken seriously, it should be watched for the pure enjoyment of getting away from the daily humdrum.

I have seen this movie twice and both times the audience was literally buoyed by the fun of the movie, though I must say the best parts and lines come from Uncle Edgar(a deliciously evil Cary Elwes) and Heston the snake(the slimy voice of Steve Coogan is wonderful). That is not to say that the two leads(Anne Hathaway and Hugh Dancy) are not bright and funny in their parts, they are. Only that the wonderful and memorable lines come mainly from the more evil characters.

Joanna Lumley (as the evil Dame Olga) and Minnie Driver(one of her best yet, possibly only beaten by her surprisingly good turn in "Phantom of the Opera") are also great in their minor roles, providing colorful characters and not just filling in screen time. Aidan McArdle(Slannen the Elf) is wonderful comic relief each and every time he appears, as is Lucy Punch as the horrid Step-Sister and chief fan-girl(shudder). Eric Idle, Jeniffer Higham, Jimi Mistry and Parminder Nagra are also memorable, particularly Jimi as Benny, Eric as the Narrator and Parminder as Ella's best friend, though I think Parminder's talents are woefully under recognized in this film and I would love to see her in more main roles like in "Bend it like Beckham".

But I digress.

Hopefully those watching this movie will remember the fun it is supposed to be and not fall into the trap of over analyzing this piece of light-hearted happiness.
71 out of 93 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Surprisingly cute
smatysia14 July 2009
It seems that many, many commentators disliked this movie because it wasn't at all like the book. Fair enough, I suppose, but movies seldom are. In any case, I haven't read that book, and was blissfully unaware that this film was supposedly adapted from one. I found it surprisingly cute. Many of the campy things hit the mark, like the "medeival modern" anachronistic setting, reminiscent of The Flintstones cartoon wherein it was filled with modern things constructed from prehistoric materials; and the modern songs transposed to the time setting herein. That last was a bit like Moulin Rouge, which annoyed me at first, but then grew on me. I don't believe that I've seen this Anne Hathaway before, but she is intriguing. Her vivacity and wide smile remind me a bit of Julia Roberts. Can't say that I was much impressed with Hugh Dancy or Aiden McArdle. Minnie Driver was most charming as the incompetent fairy, and Vivica Fox was quite amusing as the lush fairy. It's too bad that Parminder Nagra's part was so small, as she always lights up a screen. And Cary Elwes couldn't hide his amusement with the material as he munched on the scenery. I say check this out, if you aren't going to throw a fit over the book.
11 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
This almost works...
dbborroughs17 April 2004
The story of young Ella who was given the gift of obedience is a very frustrating movie, it should be wild and charming and funny and the best thing since sliced bread, or if not sliced bread then The Princess Bride, but some how it doesn't quite work as whole.

The cast is game, the special effects are good and the direction seems to be mostly on target, but somewhere along the way the movie decided to be too hip, too happening, too many things all at once. Its a comedy, fantasy, adventure, musical and a few other things all at the same time. It has timeless humor and humor that is in danger of dating very badly. It feels some times like a TV movie for kids and at other times something that should be on the big screen for everyone. It doesn't seem to know what it wants to be. Somehow I think that there were too many people with too many ideas (good ideas) but no one to say too much is a bad thing.

I like this movie a lot, the pieces much more than the whole, but I can't help but wanting to beat up everyone involved in it because this should be so much better.

Six out of ten. Wait for video.
46 out of 69 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Winner of the "Worst Adaptation Ever" Award!
hhrforever19 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Warning--if you have read the book, do not see the movie--you WILL become violently ill! O'Haver, the director, looked at the story (a beautiful, classic book by Gail Levine that everyone should read), and decided that he didn't like the current plot--so he made up a new one, and still had the gall to say that it was "based" on Levine's masterpiece of a book (kudos to "I, Robot" for actually being truthful and honest enough to say that the movie was "inspired" by the books--it's something for O'Haver to one day aspire to). He also made up new characters and changed the old characters to fit his new plot--Char's parents are dead, and there's a new evil uncle (Elwes) with a cheesy snake servant who is trying to kill Char and take over the crown--there's also a new elf friend of Ella's who wants to be a lawyer (can you say Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer?), but is forced to only sing and dance by this new evil and tyrannical uncle created by O'Haver--ogres are also now not evil, but only "misunderstood"! And Ella's father is nice and caring, Mandy is no longer her caring, sensible fairy godmother, but a ditz and a magical klutz, and the wonderful old-fashioned world created by Levine has been warped and cheapened by the director so that it's a faux modern world (the modern costumes add to the cheap and fake look of the film). Overall, the movie bears little resemblance to the book in anything but the title and character names, and is the worst adaptation I have ever seen, as well as a silly and stupid movie in itself. Hathaway does indeed reprise her role in Princess Diaries (another terrible adaptation with changed character names, setting, roles, etc, though not as bad as this one)--to the extent that there's even a debate scene that mirrors the one in Princess almost exactly (forget finishing school--they have modern school in the movie!).

In short, don't waste your money on this film--use the money instead to read Ella Enchanted--believe me, you'll get much better and higher quality entertainment this way, for a lesser cost!
29 out of 42 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
An Abomination, and a Waste of a Superb Story
Kuty71226 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
If you've ever read Ella Enchanted, you will be shocked that a movie studio couldso thoroughly ruin an excellent story. At it's heart, Ella Enchanted(the book), is a story of love, frustration, and other human emotions.Although you may find yourself smiling at times, it is more of a romantic/angsty fairytale than a comedic fairytale, complete with one graying fairy godmother, two banister-sliding protagonists, and three masque balls (excluding Sir Peter's and Dame Olga's wedding reception). What Ella Enchanted does NOT contain is an evil talking snake. When Ella finally is able to find the strength to save not only herself, but Char and the entire kingdom, you are so happy for her that, chances are, you cry. As a matter of fact, I would say I cried more than I laughed reading this book.

Watching the movie, I was speechless. It was extremely tacky and went for cheap, easy laughs. At best I can call it a poor imitation of Shrek, except that would be an insult to the highly entertaining Shrek. There is no place in Ella Enchanted for an evil royal uncle and his talking serpent, and definitely no place for a singing Ella, or a dancing cast. (Nor a screaming fan club!). The well-developed character of Areida, which I'm sure Parminder Nagra could have played well, was cut down to a mere cameo.

This movie lacked human emotion. Ella was not nearly as frustrated as any normal person would be at her curse. (Hello? She breaks out in song and dance!) Don't get me started on the range of emotions Areida could have covered. And of course Hattie is way too obnoxious and not nearly as manipulative (read: not obviously annoying, but cruel) as she could have been. If it were one actor's performance I would call it poor acting. In this case, I would have to lay my blame almost entirely on the director and screenwriters. With such promising material, they managed to create an hour and a half of rubbish.

Even the movie's visuals gave it a much more modern feel, with colors too vibrant for any over the age of 4. Half the time I felt like I was watching the Teletubbies. I would say the maximum age that these cheap laughs could amuse is 8 years old.

I read the book when I was probably around 10 or so, and have read it innumerable times since then. It truly appeals to all ages, because, unlike its movie version, it deals with true emotions, not cheap humor and anachronisms, which, honestly, do not add to the story.

In short, forget the movie, read the book!
32 out of 49 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Not bad, but could have been better
Laura11 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Despite the fact that "Ella Enchanted" is a children's novel, I really enjoyed it. It was clever, entertaining, and impressively original for having been based on the age-old story of Cinderella.

The movie is a lot better if you've never read the book.

There are a ton of discrepancies between book and film. Now, I realize that whenever you translate a book to the big screen, some things are going to change, or be lost, or be added. I also realize that not all film adaptations can be Lord of the Rings. But for some reason, the makers of THIS film didn't seem to feel that Ella's original predicament -- receiving the "gift" of obedience as a baby which forced her to do anything anyone told her to do -- was enough for a movie. They swapped out Prince Charmont's very nice parents for an evil regent who tries to force Ella to clear his path to the crown, and added a few moderately amusing but altogether bizarre song-and- dance routines. Most of those scenes had me outright cringing. They also took away Ella's position as the protagonist-narrator and inserted an additional character to tell her story.

That's not to say the movie is entirely without merit. The casting is excellent; Cary Elwes is a delicious villain, Eric Idle is a delight as the narrator, and Anne Hathaway sparkles as Ella. And I was pleased to see that the film does remain true to the source material's underlying message -- that in spite of whatever happens in your life, you have the power to make your own happy ending.

All in all, it's a good film for the kids. But the book is better.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Doesn't quite enchant
divaclv12 December 2004
Given the recent success of fantasy movies, it was probably inevitable that "Ella Enchanted" would get its turn on the silver screen. Like "Harry Potter," Gail Carson Levine's delightful re-imagining of Cinderella has been popular with both readers and critics, and contains plenty of imagination and engaging characters. One only wishes it had translated to screen better.

Levine comes up with a clever explanation for the reason why Ella (played in the film by Anne Hathaway) must slave for her horrid step-family: at her cradle, a well-meaning but rather dim fairy godmother (Vivica A. Fox) granted her the "gift" of obedience, forcing the poor girl to comply with any direct order regardless of how ridiculous or dangerous. Refusing to be resigned to her lot, Ella sets out to return the unwanted gift--and en route, find romance with Prince Charmont ("Char" for short, played by Hugh Dancy).

Unfortunately, it is here that the similarities to the source material end. In the film, Ella comes off as far less resourceful and clever as she does in the book, and mostly seems to wind up getting into embarrassing or awkward situations through her enforced compliance. Which is a shame, because Hathaway is a vibrant and talented actress who could have easily imbued the character with more spunk had she been called on to do so. It doesn't help that the screenwriters have seen fit to muddy Ella's quest with a standard-issue villain in the form of Char's Claudius-esquire uncle (Cary Elwes, channeling the spirit of Prince Humperdink and accompanied by a very unconvincing CGI snake), and some business about the oppression of the kingdom's non-humans.

Like "Shrek," "Ella Enchanted" takes the fractured fairy-tale route, throwing in sly references and anachronisms at every opportunity. Some of these work (I liked the man-powered escalator in the medieval mall), but more than a few fall flat (mostly Char's squealing fan club, who are perhaps too accurate in their annoying behavior). Hathaway and Dancy play it more or less straight, but everyone else camps it up grandly, especially Elwes. Unfortunately, both Fox and Minnie Driver as Ella's more sensible godmother feel miscast, and Parminder Nagra (the talented star of "Bend it Like Beckham") is virtually wasted as Ella's foreign-born friend.

"Ella Enchanted" is nice enough to sit through--Hathaway's presence keeps things going, and there are enough nice visuals. But in a genre that in the past few years has seen "Harry Potter," "Lord of the Rings," and "Shrek"--with "A Series of Unfortunate Events" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" among the films on the horizon--it takes more than nice to distinguish oneself in the field.
52 out of 86 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Great, entertaining film. A refreshing change to the 'polished' animated films at the mo'
katherinekatherine28 July 2005
I thoroughly enjoyed this film, it was clever, original and entertaining. The interesting opening scenes were great as they transported you to the fairytale world. I was very happy to see Eric Idle was the narrator and Anne Hathaway was brilliant and instantly likable as Ella, with Hugh Dancy the perfect handsome prince. The Elf (another familiar face- Dudley Moore in 'Not Only But Always') is wonderful as the sidekick. I also thought the story was very good, it was slightly predictable at first, but then there were some interesting twists, where I think the usual fairytale storyline was changed to great effect. The way the Fairytale land echoed aspects of home were amusing, with wooden escalators, taxi carriages… In a way, I liked it more than Shrek, because of the fact that it was less 'polished' and maybe more British. I would definitely recommend 'Ella Enchanted' to anyone who wants a fun and entertaining film.
22 out of 34 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
One for the vaults
jmbwithcats25 April 2004
Ella Enchanted, starring Anne Hathaway, Hugh Dancy, Minnie Driver, and Eric Idle, is a contemporary epic fairy tale, sitting on the top shelf with such classics as The Wizard of Oz, and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

A deeply telling and romantic tale, set in the land of magic, with many important messages, ranging from personal freedom, self empowerment, truth, and equality, to the simple pleasures that create the beautiful contrast of fairy tales, humor, song, beauty, friendship.

A family movie, Ella Enchanted will be enjoyed by adults and children, and is sure to bring a warmth to your heart.

Anne Hathaway steals your heart with her charm, personality, and ability to carry the movie no matter where it leads, with great beauty and skill. The supporting roles are cute, witty, and fill out the movie in all the right places.

This is one for the vaults, and the DVD collection.
43 out of 74 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews