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Ella Enchanted
Ella Enchanted
Starring Anne Hathaway, Hugh Dancy, Cary Elwes, Patrick Bergin, Steve Coogan, Eric Idle

Featuring The Princess DiariesAnne Hathaway, soon to be seen its sequel, the perfect-looking teen actress now is in a mythical hybrid fairy tale land with some strange magic in Ella Enchanted.

Ms. Hathaway is the title character, Ella of Frell, based on the Gail Carson Levine book she does her best to be obedient to this cute, harmless, but slowly paced variation on the likes of the Brothers Grimm (whose name is referenced at least twice in reverse with disdain.)

Tommy O’Haver, who directed the cartoonish high school comedy Get Over It with a certain breeziness, has a pretty good cast at his disposal, but wastes many of them including Joanna Lumley, Ptrick Bergin as Ella’s dad, and Minnie Driver as a household fairy.

Some of the camera work, especially at the start, pleasantly gets one in the mood for Ella’s predicament of getting the “gift” of obedience from Vivica A. Fox’s chic Lucinda. When someone asks something of her she’ll do it; that includes freezing in mid air and belting out “Somebody To Love” with “soul.”

When we see Hathaway (perhaps a younger version of Sela Ward?), her new stepmother, Lumley’s Olga, wants her stepsisters to marry the very charming Prince “Char” Charmont (Hugh Dancy). She’s angry that the Prince seems to have feelings for Ella. Then one of the daughters, Hattie (Lucy Punch) realizes the potential of the curse and makes Ella break up with her best friend (Parminder Nagra of Bend It Like Beckham).

O’Haver likes joking around with the fairy tale genre and the goofy tone sometimes resembles A Knight’s Tale. The interplay between Hathaway and Dancy doesn’t really take off as Ella finally decides to track down Lucinda (with the help of a man in a book) and urge her to remove the curse. The hunk Prince Char reacts in a scene by saying “Medieval Teen” and that’s what this postmodern interpretation of Levin’s book targets. A Pottery Barn and shopping malls are surrounded by a devious plan by Char’s Uncle Edgar (Cary Elwes) to get the crown for himself. He’ll turn all the giants and elves into slaves and orders Ella to do his dirty work on Char.

Eric Idle acts like a narrator to cue the music and storyline and that’s where O’Haver displays more cinematic grace and energy than in the acting which draws heavily from The Princess Bride and Shrek. Hathaway looks as effervescent as possible considering how adorably frenetic and glossy this fairy tale gets as the coronation of the king at a spectacular castle gets interrupted. Like Get Over It the finale of Ella Enchanted reveals its heart for a contemporary group cover of Elton John’s Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.

Ella Enchanted

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