Everyone loves a good fairy tale no matter what age. There is just something about that fantasy world where fairies fly, animals talk, elves associate with humans, and life is simple. Ella Enchanted is no exception to the rule by providing an entertaining tale of Cinderella with a modern twist.
Based on the book of the same title, the movie starts with the question that everyone wanted to know about Cinderella: why was she so obedient to her stepmother and stepsisters? The author, Gail Carson Levine, has quite an interesting explanation. On the day Ella (Anne Hathaway) was born, a not-so-thoughtful fairy named Lucinda (Vivica Fox) gave her the not-so-great gift of obedience. The gift was intended to be beneficial to her parents and make Ella look like such a good girl. However, as she grew older, the gift became more of a curse than anything else.
When Ella’s mother dies, her father marries a nasty woman by the name of Dame Olga (Joanna Lumley) who has two very unruly daughters that somehow seem to catch on to Ella’s little problem. Life becomes unbearable for her at home with these three women and near deadly when an evil ruler orders Ella to murder the handsome prince (Hugh Dancy). Thus, Ella embarks on a journey filled with ogres, elves, giants, and fairies to find a way to break the spell.
Comparable to Shrek, this fairy tale has some crude humor and many references to modern times. For example, Ella attends the community college and her favorite store is the "Crockery Barn." Furthermore, some of the songs on the soundtrack include Arehta Franklin’s "Respect" to Elton John’s "Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart." Also, the prince is seen as a heartthrob in the latest issue of Medieval Teen magazine.
All in all, the film is quite enjoyable for every age. There is excitement, action, and even times when characters break into song and dance. In some ways, one might think they are watching a musical.
For parents, they should be aware that there is some crude language, social drinking, and light violence (sword fighting). However, there are some very valid issues brought up in the film including the death of a mother, themes of discrimination and prejudice, and the strength of a young girl in trying times.
Some questions to ponder over after the film might be how Ella broke the curse. What did she have to learn to break the curse? What role did Ella play in the discrimination and segregation of the ogres and elves? What creates prejudice?