Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Ella Enchanted

MPAA Rating: PG for some crude humor and language

Reviewed by: Misty Wagner
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Preteens to Adults
Genre:
Romance, Comedy, Fantasy
Length:
1 hr. 35 min.
Year of Release:
2004
USA Release:
April 9, 2004 (wide—1,931 theaters)
Featuring: Anne Hathaway (Nicholas Nickleby; The Other Side of Heaven; The Princess Diaries)
Joanna Lumley (Eurotrip; Maybe Baby)
Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride; Robin Hood: Men in Tights)
Minnie Driver (Beautiful; Return to Me; Hard Rain)
Steve Coogan
Eric Idle (Monty Python)
Director: Tommy O’Haver (Get Over It; Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss)
Produced by: Jane Startz (Tuck Everlasting; The Mighty)
Distributor: Miramax
Copyright, Miramax
Copyright, Miramax
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obedience

slavery

This film is based on Gail Carson Levine’s novel of the same name.

Do you remember back when “fairy tales” ended with dramatically romantic, closed mouth kisses and as little girls our hearts warmed a bit as a sigh crept up from deep within our spirit? THAT is exactly the feeling I was hoping to “pass on” to my daughter as we went to see “Ella enchanted.” The kisses in this movie though, are not closed mouth. To go one step further there is a small amount of cleavage, an excess amount of bare midriffs, talk of liking someone’s “butt” and a comment made about girls “tonguing” the floor that the prince supposedly walked on.

That being said though, it’s a sweet movie, and in this generation of ratings often being far too lenient, it keeps its “innocence” fairly intact. I am not trying to pick it apart; I do not regret taking my daughter to see it, however, it does earn its PG rating easily.

Ella (Anne Hathaway of “The Princess Diaries”) is a girl born in the magical/fairy tale world that lives in many of our imaginations. There are dwarves, ogres, giants and fairies. When Ella is born, her fairy Godmother, Lucinda, gives her the gift of obedience, trying to demonstrate how merely telling the baby to sleep, and wake, are blessings which her mother should be proud. Her mother, however, can see the problems that may arise with this “gift” later in Ella’s life and tries to get Lucinda to take the gift back. She will not, and such is the path of Ella’s life—doing whatever people idly “instruct” her to do. (Example: At a birthday party her house-fairy and confidant (Minnie Driver) tells her to “dig in,” and Ella begins eating handfuls of birthday cake.)

Later, Ella is grown, and in college. Her Mother has long since passed away, and Ella’s father remarries a less then pleasant woman with two wickedly, less-then-pleasant daughters. (Ahhh yes, the wicked step-mother and her two wicked step-sisters! Sound familiar??? There are many intentional references in this movie to the beloved story of Cinderella. Starting with her name (Ella), to quick glimpses of glass slippers, and a reference to her cleaning the fire place. For those familiar with the classic tale it is sort of fun to see all of these reminders.)

Regardless of Ella’s “gift” of obedience, she has a strong mind, will and strong opinions. While slightly resembling the Cinderella of the classic stories, she is more free-spirited and highly political, modern day version of who Cinderella possibly would be today. Her stance on “political issues” within her kingdom, and her new found familial relationships are what begin this whirlwind of a delightful adventure as Ella goes on the journey to find her Godmother and freedom from this “gift/curse.”

This movie is filled with music we all know and love, humorous “references” to our modern day world and the same sweetness in character from Anne Hathaway that we all loved in “The Princess Diaries.” There are times you feel like dancing. Throughout the screening I attended, audience members were singing along.

There are times when this film may remind you of “A Knight’s Tale” or perhaps “Grease”—and definitely “The Princess Bride” (the prince’s uncle is played by Cary Elwes). Elwes does a wonderful, yet sinister job in this new film. But that does not mean it is dull or clichéd. It holds it’s own very well!

There are a few things that may concern some parents. As I mentioned before, there were a few spots of cleavage and many bare midriffs. The ogres’ pants ride just low enough for their “derrieres” to be insinuated as a joke. There are bodily sounds made a few times, and a small amount of violence (only in two scenes). There is a serpent that belongs to the prince’s uncle, who is quite evil/sneaky, but not overly scary.

I compliment Miramax for not making the romance between Ella and Prince Char the main plotline in this movie. Instead, the story is about a girl who embarks on a “larger then life” journey to remove a curse from her life—merely to find herself, inner peace, strength, courage and to change her world. Our children need to see that there is more to life then falling in love, but that being you and the young man or woman that God wants you to be can be even more fulfilling!

Overall, “Ella Enchanted” is a beautiful story and a great movie for families to see together—highly entertaining, heartwarming and fun to watch. (And afterwards, mothers and daughters could read the novel together.)

There are various “door openers” for family discussion: What is persecution? What is “racism”? Why is it important that the elves, dwarves, giants, ogres and people in the story all get along? What are the effects of peer pressure? (Believing in yourself, and not succumbing to what others say you will be.)

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Mild—“Oh my G*d” (1) / Sex/Nudity: Mild

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—I was VERY pleased with this film, and highly recommend it!! My 2 daughters, ages 8 and 10, loved it. It is a very empowering film that shows that what you believe in counts!! There are a few things that may be objectionable, the ogres have some “backside cleavage,” and there are some girls that are touring the castle that want to see the shower that the prince is “naked in.” Other than that I loved this film! I went with some other christian moms, and we all wanted to go right back in and see it again. There is a group of girls in the movie that are in the prince’s fan club, that agree with his politics (that actually turn out to be his evil uncle’s politics) just because he’s “hot,” and Ella tries to tell them it’s what you believe in, not how cute you are that matters!!! Overall, I think this movie has a great message, and some really creative humor that the adults will find entertaining, so they will enjoy the film as much as the kids!!
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4½]
—Kathy, age 39
Positive—I saw the movie today with my daughter who is 13 years old. The movie was refreshing, artistic, comedic and enlightening. Although many have questioned the back sides of the ogres, we laughed during this scene because the backsides were plastic protrusions of the gluteous area. It is refreshing to laugh. The art direction of the film was postmodern in its matrix of illusion and fantasy. The comedy was light hearted with a twist of realism causing many to think about issues of anger, hatred, evil and predjudism; perhaps—enlightening young minds to the problems one can face socially . A delightful film, worthy to see.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
—Edward Biamonte, age 46
Positive—I took my two daughters, 4 and 7, and my 10 year old son. We all had a great time. I thought the introduction of prejudice and the ways to confront it were wonderful. It opened discussion for how we should treat others. It was lighthearted and engaging. My 4 year old did not get scared and thoroughly enjoyed the whole movie. Even my son enjoyed it, there were enough ogres, giants, and princes to keep him engaged. The prince did not “fall in love” with Ella for her beauty, but rather for her character. It was a great movie the whole family could enjoy.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4½]
—M. Nelson, age 40
Positive—In today’s PG-13 world, it was nice to see a movie where I don’t feel there are objectionable religious views being taught. This was a fairy tale, plain and simple, silly, laughable, and sweet. We all enjoyed it, 2 girls, 12 and 16, 2 boys, 8 and 10, and myself. The costumes were no worse than anything my kids might see at the mall, even the ogres were just silly, not overdone. Different than the original book, but still fun and clean.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
—H Mitchell, age 38
Neutral
Neutral—…there are some scenes that may be objectionable. You have to wonder where the idea of “house fairies” came from, and the social commentary may borderline the self-esteem doctrine but I think this is definitely less objectionable to a lot of the filth Hollywood produces. Magic is portrayed as being fickle and not always so benign. It also shows how many people just look at politics as a fashion show instead of looking to the deeper issues. Like a certain ex-president, where the “stable economy” was more important than morality in office. I’d recommend it.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/3]
—David, age 28
Negative
Negative—…a very well done movie with many funny and creative scenes. I am sorry to say that between the funny and creative scenes there was a lot of objectional content, especially, for a PG rated movie. The audience is exposed to many ogres bare backsides and objectional language. Also, there is one on screen kiss that I thought would at least push the movie into PG-13 territory. I brought my 11 and 13 year old daughters, and I was sorry that I did. I also went with a few non-Christian friends and I was very embarrassed to have brought them to such filth. I wonder how this movie ever got a PG rating; it should have been rated PG-13 or higher. It is sad that objectional content had to ruin a perfectly creative family film.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/4]
—Sandy, age 43
Negative—I anxiously awaited the release of this film. The opening scene impressed me lush scenery, beautiful castle, and a unicorn in the background. All went downhill from there; this is the cheesiest movie I’ve ever seen. Nearly every woman in this film had cleavage exposed, as well as the ogre’s rear. Thumbs down, wish I had picked better.
My Ratings: [Average/1½]
—Ann Parker, age 33
Negative—This film would be fun for the 6-7 year-old crowd, but was VERY difficult to sit through for our family (2 adults and 2 teen daughters)—trite themes, predictable, hyper-stereotyped roles and mostly “over-acted”—nothing like the Ella Enchanted book, which was disappointing. After enduring the entire film, we wish we would have walked out earlier and found a more stimulating, thought-provoking type movie.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/1½]
—S.V., age 45
Negative—After reading Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine I decided to rent this movie. I was excited because the book was such an excellent read. In fact, I recommend this book to anyone who loves fresh reinvented fairy tales. It is such a unique spin! However, three minutes into this movie I felt disappointment. Why? They took a clever and well written book and turned it into MTV JR. I’m just really curious why Hollywood refuses to follow a story line. There is a reason this book is so popular, right? So why do the powers that be feel they must tamper and rewrite such a wonderful story. Also, combining modern times with “fairy tale fantasy” was lunacy. Not clever. Not brilliant. Just arrogant and clunky. BTW, Vivica Fox’s costume was inappropriate. Not to mention they show her passed out on a bed from drinking to much! Lot’s of cleavage and base jokes. Ever notice this kind of stuff rears it’s ugly head when the script is subpar? Watch something else and don’t waste your precious time on this.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Mari, age 42 (USA)
Comments from young people

none

Positive—I read the book before I went to see this movie, and the plotline is pretty much there, and Anne Hathaway did a very good acting job there. There is a bit of exposed cleavage, and a very long kiss, but the rest of the movie gave me a very good feeling! Go see it!
My Ratings: [Better than Average/3½]
—Susan, age 14
Positive—The film was sweet, fun, and original. Kind of like, “Shrek meets Classic Fairy Tale.” The language was very clean, as was the minor romance between Ella and the Prince (which was based on a relationship, not looks, etc.). The film was very entertaining and one I would certainly recommend.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
—Lauren, age 17
Positive—It is so refreshing to see a movie that you can see with your parents and not be embarrassed. This is not your typical Cinderella story. The music is modern and the fairy tale kingdom is old in architectural style, but that’s about it. I loved this movie. Usually heroines are now against the grain, immoral, flaunting girls, but Ella is not. She is sweet, but opinionated in a good way. I do recommend this for families, but I must warn you about a few things before you take your young girls to see it. You see the ogres bottom-cracks. There are some scary moments. Also, when Ella is looking for her “godmother,” Ella and Charr wind up at a giant’s wedding feast and there is inebriation amongst the fairies. The kissing in this movie is thankfully tame, but it is not your black-and-white movie kisses. Ella and Charr love each other based on each others ideas, and attitudes, not on physical attraction. If you feel that after the warnings I have given you still want to go, I agree with your decision. But it is the parents responsibility to protect their children from things that the parents deem indecent.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/3]
—Laura N., age 16
Neutral—As a fan of the book Ella Enchanted, I was very excited when I heard that they were making it into a movie. However, the movie did not live up to my expectations in many way. My major complaint is that it has so little in common with the book. I understand that they have to change things when adapting a book into a movie, but they took it to the point of actually re-writing the personalities of most of the characters. In addition, many important scenes were drastically changed or omitted altogether. Nonetheless, the movie did have its good points. It contains almost nothing objectionable, and really is quite fun and lighthearted overall. Still, I recommend that you read the book first, then see the movie.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/3½]
—Christine W., age 17
Positive—My girlfriend, having read the book 23 times when she was younger (no joke), dragged me to this movie, and I was sure that it would be just another stupid girl power movie, but I was wrong. The film plays out more like an adventure film, and it wasn’t really all that girly. I was also surprised that it was PG, as I didn’t find anything objectionable. Overall, an excellent family film.
My Ratings: [Good/3½]
—Dustin Foree, age 16
Positive—I was excited when I found out that Ella Enchanted was being made into a movie, because I love the book. I was a little disappointed, though, because it’s almost nothing like the book. The base of the plot is the same, but that’s pretty much it. It was really cute, though, and I probably would have liked it more if I didn’t have the book to compare it to. The ogres really needed to wear some belts with their pants. There was some open-mouthed kissing. The giants wore some revealing clothes. I enjoyed seeing the actor from The Princess Bride. That was cool. Overall, this was a good movie, but I think a remake that’s just like the book is definitely something to consider.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/3]
—Brittney, age 13
Positive—This movie was very good! The only part that my mom and I thought was offensive was when they show an ogres pants half way off and it shows his butt side. It is very funny! There were no cuss words! I was surprised. I think everybody will enjoy this movie!
My Ratings: [Good/4]
—Carolyn, age 11
Positive—I saw this film with my friend and we laughed so hard through the whole film. I think it was an excellent film with some objectional content. In the this film it followed the obedience trait. I think it showed that you should follow your dreams and don’t let anyone in the way.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4½]
—Emily, age 11
Negative—This movie was very cheesy. I don’t recommend it unless you are under 7. There was nothing really offensive in this film, but it could have been ten times better if they would have developed the themes in the book and stuck to the original plot. It was very predictable and overdone, which makes it pretty boring and almost dumb at times. There were some good parts in it, and little kids would probably enjoy it, but for the older crowd, I say thumbs down.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/1½]
—Renae, age 13
Positive—Great! It’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. Your kids will love this romantic comedy. I know my parents loved it. So go out with the whole family and see this not bad family film… enjoy this funny movie.
My Ratings: [Excellent!/5]
—Ashley, age 12
Positive—I enjoyed this movie entirely.There was not one scene in which I did not laugh. There was some crude humor in it, but I don’t think there was enough to not see the movie as long as parents explain to their children that they should never speak like that. My Mom always asks me the question when I want to see a movie, if Jesus were sitting beside you in the movie theatre would you be embarassed to see the movie? My answer for this movie is no.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
—Becky, age 13
Positive—Overall, this movie was VERY good. “An eye popper” with bright colours, starry lights and a great mix between your normal kids movie and your adult twist. I’d recommend this movie to JUST ABOUT anyone. There is some show of “bottoms” that I didn’t think to be that amusing or anything else that one might have wanted someone to think, I found it to be rude and pretty disgusting, but besides that the movie is pretty much A. O. K
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
—Britt, age 13
Positive—This movie is a romantic comedy set in a fairy tale land that follows the life of Ella (Anne Hathaway). It is funny and lighthearted, and there is nothing objectionable in the film, besides a few kisses between Ella and Prince Charming. It is appropriate for most children, and many will recognize the story line because it is a twist on the classic Cinderella story.
My Ratings: [Good/4]
—Lisa Kessel, age 16
Neutral—I read the book a gazillion times when I was younger, and I loved every minute of it, so I thought I would love the movie. I was disappointed. It had some cute moments, but it was pretty cheesy. Although I have to admit that I would have enjoyed it more if I had seen it before reading the book. My expectations were too high. But it’s a good enough movie to see once or twice with the family, and Anne Hatheway brightened up the screen as usual. It did have a few parts that I thought the moviemakers could have spared little kids eyes from, but all in all, it’s ok.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/2½]
—Liz, age 15