A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
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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 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.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: April 9, 2004
- On DVD or streaming: August 24, 2004
- Cast: Anne Hathaway, Cary Elwes, Hugh Dancy
- Director: Tommy O'Haver
- Studio: Miramax
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Book Characters
- Run time: 96 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some crude humor and language
- Last updated: September 17, 2020
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