A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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.
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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."
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No cursing, but some crude language: One little girl says "bite me" at one point, whereupon Ella bites her.
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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.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
If you want to experience the real pleasures of Ella Enchanted, 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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.