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Ella Enchanted

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Tommy O'Haver
Produced by Jane Startz
Susan Miller
Written by Karen McCullah Lutz
Kristen Smith
Gail Carson Levine (Novel)
Narrated by Eric Idle
Starring Anne Hathaway
Hugh Dancy
Cary Elwes
Steve Coogan
Aidan McArdle
Minnie Driver
Music by Nick Glennie-Smith
James Seymour Brett (additional score)
Cinematography John de Borman
Editing by Masahiro Hirakubo
Studio Jane Startz Productions
Blessington Film Productions
Distributed by Miramax Films
Release date(s) April 9, 2004 (2004-04-09)
(United States)
02004-12-17 December 17, 2004
(United Kingdom)
Running time 96 minutes
Country United States
Ireland
United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $31 million[1]
Gross revenue $27,388,767

Ella Enchanted is a 2004 fairy tale-comedy film loosely based on Gail Carson Levine's 1997 novel of the same name. The film stars Anne Hathaway as Ella and Hugh Dancy as Prince Charmont. It was released to North American cinema on April 9, 2004 and to British cinema on December 17, 2004.

Contents

Plot

In the kingdom of Frell, baby Ella (Anne Hathaway) is given the "gift of obedience" by her fairy godmother, Lucinda (Vivica A. Fox). This turns out to be more of a curse, making Ella do anything she is told to do, no matter how terrible or physically impossible. Some years later, Ella's mother dies after instructing Ella to tell no one of the curse, not even her father.

Eventually Ella's father, in need of money, remarries a wealthy socialite. His greedy new wife, Dame Olga (Joanna Lumley), and her two spoiled daughters Hattie (Lucy Punch) and Olive (Jennifer Higham) treat Ella poorly. They eventually realize Ella's obedience to commands, and begin making her life miserable.

Ella, now a young woman, happens to meet Prince Charmont (Hugh Dancy), the young, attractive, and very popular heir to the kingdom; they like each other, but Hattie and Olive decide to pursue "Char" themselves.

Ella cannot bear to live under the obedience spell and Hattie's jealousy a moment longer, so she resolves to find Lucinda, the only one who can remove the spell. Mandy (Minnie Driver), the household fairy, introduces her boyfriend Benny to Ella; he is in the form of a book but can help Ella by showing things such as pictures of people in their current surroundings.

During her journey, Ella encounters an elf named Slannen (Aidan McArdle), who wants to be a lawyer instead of an entertainer as the kingdom's laws now require. Slannen joins Ella on her quest, but they are captured by a group of ogres, who prepare to cook and eat them. They are rescued by Prince Charmont. He then accompanies her to a wedding in the land of giants, where Ella hopes to find Lucinda. As they make their way there, the prince and Ella begin to fall in love. They pass a plantation where giants are working as slaves, and Ella tries to open Char's eyes to the cruelty of the new laws oppressing elves and giants.

At the wedding, Ella is forced to perform a rendition of Queen's "Somebody to Love". Char then suggests that Ella should come with him to his palace to visit the Hall of Records and track down Lucinda faster.

At the palace, the sinister Sir Edgar (Cary Elwes), has Ella's "gift" called to his attention by his talking snake, Heston (voiced by Steve Coogan), who has been spying on the prince. When Edgar offers them Char's hand in marriage, Ella's stepsisters explain that she does everything she is told. Edgar knows that Prince Charmont intends to propose marriage to Ella, and he orders her to stab him to death then, and not to tell anyone of the plan. Sir Edgar also reveals that he murdered Prince Charmont's father. To prevent the murder of Char, Ella asks Slannen to tie her to a tree outside the city and to find the giants so they can help.

Lucinda now appears before Ella, who asks her to undo the "gift" of obedience. Offended by the request, Lucinda refuses, saying that if Ella no longer wants the spell, she must remove it herself. To make matters worse, she unties Ella from the tree and gives her a fancy dress to attend the ball in. When Ella gets to the ball, Charmont almost immediately takes her to the Hall of Mirrors and asks her to marry him. Ella is about to stab him with the dagger Edgar provided, when she realizes how to free herself from the curse: she orders herself to no longer be obedient. This saves Prince Charmont from his uncle's treachery. But Edgar is watching the entire scene behind a one-way mirror, and before Ella can explain to Char why she tried to kill him, he orders the guards in, to lock her up and have her executed in a few days.

Meanwhile, Slannen gets the giants, and the ogres come to help as well. They sneak into the castle just before the coronation is to occur. They rescue Ella and find out that Sir Edgar is poisoning the crown that is to be put on Char's head in the ceremony. When the crown is just inches above his head, Ella barges in along with Slannen and the ogres and screams, "Drop that crown!" Edgar and Heston call for knights and then the ninja-like Red Guards, and they all battle in the hall against Prince Char, Ella, the ogres, the giants, Slannen, and Benny. During the fight, Ella has time to explain to Char everything that has happened.

When Sir Edgar's forces lose the battle, Heston tries to bite Char, but is stopped by Ella and members of Char's fan club. This shows that Ella was telling the truth, and Edgar admits everything to the assembled crowd, saying it was justified because he is the only one fit to wear the crown. Then, carried away by his own rhetoric, he puts it dramatically on his own head, and promptly collapses from the poison.

Char and Ella kiss; her stepsisters arrive and order her to stop, and she is delighted to refuse and also to take back her mother's necklace. Char now asks Ella again to marry him, and she agrees: "Now that I'll do." The movie ends with their wedding and a musical number (Elton John's "Don't Go Breaking My Heart"), during which it is revealed that Sir Edgar did not die, but was very badly poisoned.

Cast

Actor Johnny Nguyen appears as a stunt performer.

Production

Hathaway did her own singing in the film.[2][3]

Jimi Mistry, a British actor of Indian descent, said that he enjoyed playing Benny in the film because it offered him the opportunity to do something different from his other roles. "You can't get less Indian than a talking book, and an American talking book, so it was great," he said.[4]

Critical response

The film received mixed reviews, with a 50% rating on Rotten Tomatoes[5] and 53% on Metacritic.[6]. Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert gave the film 3 1/2 stars out of 4, praising it as "the best family film so far this year" (April 9, 2004).[7]

Hathaway, who first read the book when she was 16, says that there was originally a version of the script that was much closer to the book but that it didn't work as a film; she added that she prefers the way the movie actually turned out because it "makes fun of itself for being a fairy tale."[8] Levine states that the flim is "so different from the book that it's hard to compare them," noting the addition of new characters such as Sir Edgar and Heston, and suggested "regarding the movie as a separate creative act".[9]

See also

References

External links

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