Ella Enchanted



Endearing, enduring, with just a few bits of crude humor.
Popular with kids
  • Review Date: August 22, 2004
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 96 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

Several times the characters mention the Grimm brothers, generally disparagingly for having gotten a fairy tale myth wrong, but it still may interest young readers in checking out Grimm's work.

Positive messages

The movie's bad characters are frequently unattractive and garishly dressed, which sends an old-school fairy tale message about goodness and kindness always coinciding with beauty.

Positive role models

Ella is praised for being kind and good and is a generous-hearted and noble character one is pleased to see succeed. Characters who are selfish, greedy or evil are duly punished by the movie's end.

Violence & scariness

Mostly mild, cartoonish, and played for laughs, but some sequences are pretty scary, i.e. when a giant ogre threatens to eat Ella and barbecue or shish kebab her; later she is shown trussed and about to be lowered into a boiling pot. Ella's curse also threatens to make her murder Prince Charmante; she stands threatening to stab him with a knife. Ella's mother also becomes ill and dies.

Sexy stuff

One of Ella's stepsisters is obsessed with a handsome prince, to the point where she puts up "prince pin-ups" on her wall and chases him with a crowd of girls. Ella implies she likes Char because of "how cute his butt is." Ella and Prince Char flirt and kiss; there is a subplot about a female giant (dressed in a belly shirt) who falls for a small elf. She shoots him lusty glances and cradles him in her arms. A tough flings a knife at an elf's crotch and threatens to make him "sing soprano."


No cursing, but some crude language: One little girl says "bite me" at one point, whereupon Ella bites her. 

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

At a giant party, guests guzzle colored drinks from martini glasses, and a fairy slurs her words and falls off a stool. Ella's diary godmother is said to have gotten an "FWI," flying while intoxicated and shown taking a sobriety test.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Ella Enchanted has some crude language ("bite me," "cute butt") and social drinking. It is supposed to be humorous when a character gets tipsy and has a drinking problem. There is violence, including fighting, knives, and swordplay, and there are a couple scary scenes where a main character is in peril. A character is hit in the crotch in a slapstick fight. In a more serious fight, it appears that a character is killed, but it turns out not to be the case. Ella's mother becomes ill and dies. Ella is ordered to shoplift and due to the curse, must obey.

What's the story?

In this version of the Cinderella story, well-meaning but careless fairy Lucinda (Vivica A. Fox) tries to give a gift to newborn Ella (Anne Hathaway) by casting a spell that renders her forever obedient. But that meant that Ella must do whatever she's told. Literally. This becomes downright dangerous when Ella's mother dies and her father marries nasty Dame Olga ( Joanna Lumley). And it becomes downright deadly when an evil usurper orders Ella to commit murder. Ella's journey to find a way to break the spell has its own dangers as she meets up with elves, ogres, giants, fairies, and of course a very charming prince ( Hugh Dancy).

Is it any good?


If you want to experience the real pleasures of Ella Enachanted, do not expect a faithful re-creation of Gail Carson Levine's book. The plot, the characters, even the tone are very different, but the book's theme and lessons are all there, and in its own way, the film is endearing, enduring, and lots of fun.

Like Shrek, this is a fairy tale with some broad (and occasionally crude) humor and winking references to modern times. The movie works so hard to entertain that it feels a little hypercharged at times, cluttered with too many talented performers with too little to do. But the production design helps maintain the sense of magic. Hathaway is radiantly lovable and, as the prince, Dancy is more than the usual arm candy/swordsman. The way they learn to trust and respect each other enough to stop fighting the attraction they feel is unexpectedly tender.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what it was that made it possible for Ella to break the curse. What did she have to learn or feel to make that happen?

  • Talk about the theme of discrimination and segregation in the story. What creates prejudice?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 9, 2004
DVD release date:August 24, 2004
Cast:Anne Hathaway, Cary Elwes, Hugh Dancy
Director:Tommy O'Haver
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Princesses and fairies, Book characters
Run time:96 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:some crude humor and language

This review of Ella Enchanted was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 6 year old Written byahoffmann April 6, 2013

No sexy stuff? I beg to differ!!!

I'm not sure who rates these movies, but this movie has a zero rating for "sexy stuff" but Ella and the prince kiss MULTIPLE times...and not just a peck, but real kissing. I could have dealt with once, but it was at least three times or more. I think this at least deserves mentioning! My 7 year old girl doesn't need to be seeing that and had the ratings mentioned it, I wouldn't have chosen to watch the movie. There are also tons of screaming, boy crazy girls who swoon and chase after the prince every time they see him. They even kiss the ground where he walks and someone says, "stop tonguing the foyer, girls." Call me prude, but I just thought it was a little inappropriate for young girls, or at least those who are still innocent. The story was cute and we enjoyed it, I just wish this aspect would have been at least mentioned.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Kid, 12 years old March 16, 2010


AAAUGH!!!!! this movie is terrible!especially if you loved the book.i don't see how the author of the book let them make that bad of a movie!I mean, the prince char fan club. Seriously.
Parent Written bymyab October 27, 2010

Not Like The Book, But Still A Good Movie

Quick note: we had not read the book when we watched this movie. If you do watch it, keep in mind that it is not going to be like the book. We initially watched this for my daughter, who was 6 at the time, but to my surprise my 9 year old son actually got caught up in the story, too. Nothing objectionable, really, though there are scary moments. There is violence, but nothing truly terrible. Good story, good acting, and nice to see a strong heroine overcoming her own "curse" to become who she wants and needs to be. Also a good story about tolerance of differences and how different people working together, each using their own strengths, can make a difference.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Great role models


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