Ella Enchanted


Anne Hathaway as Ella
Hugh Dancy as Prince Charmont
Cary Elwes as Prince Regent Edgar
Minnie Driver as Mandy
Vivica A. Fox as Fairy Lucinda
Joanna Lumley as Dame Olga
Patrick Bergin as Sir Peter
Jimi Mistry as Benny the Book
Eric Idle as Narrator
Parminder K. Nagra as Areida
Lucy Punch as Hattie
Jennifer Higham as Olive
Steve Coogan as Heston
Aidan McArdle as Slannen
Rory Keenan as Otto

Gail Carson Levine ‘s 1997 book Ella Enchanted won a Newbery Honor award for children’s fiction and has a small but loyal following. The movie adaptation of the book keeps the same fun and lighthearted spirit of the book but changes much of the story. Anne Hathaway plays an older Ella but she is still plagued by Fairy Lucinda’s (Vivica A. Fox) “gift” of obedience.

The largest departures from the book are the inclusion of Prince Regent Edgar (Cary Elwes) to give the movie a main antagonist and the narration being done by Eric Idle instead of Ella herself. While there are major differences in story, the lighthearted feel and charm of the book remains. It is still the Cinderella tale with a twist.

The chemistry between Ella and Prince Charmont (Hugh Dancy) is very good and they play off of each other well. The supporting cast of evil step-sisters, cruel step-mother, helpful fairy maid and assorted enchanted creatures bring the magic to life on-screen. There is a lot of sophisticated humor in the movie that should please the parents without boring the children who are the main audience.

Technically the special effects are not as crisp as some other fantasy stories, but that could be intentional so as to add a more fairy quality to the movie. The obligatory song and dance at the end of the movie is out of place and should have been left as a bonus on the DVD or aired during the credits. There is, however, a very charming routine halfway through the movie that fits in well. A few scenes of crude humor and a couple fantasy fights earned the movie a PG rating, but it is pretty safe for an escorted child of almost any age.

Who should see this movie? Anyone who likes Cinderella should enjoy watching Ella with young children. Borrow your friend’s kids if you do not have any of your own to take. There is action, romance, humor, and above all, a well-written story. If you are looking for a pure translation of the book you will be disappointed, but the plot in the movie is also a good one. Ella is a great role model for young girls. She is smart, determined, caring, and above all a strong character.