Ogres, and Elves, and Fairies, Oh My!
We’ve all seen a dozen varieties of the classic fairy-tale, Cinderella. Somehow the tale hasn’t lost its draw for the hopelessly romantic audience. Ella Enchanted (2004) is similar to the old Cinderella tale – a young girl loses her mother, her father remarries an evil woman who has two equally evil daughters, said woman and daughters proceed to make Cinder-girl’s life a misery, etc. – but twists the plot significantly in some ways and presents us with an entirely new tale.
This go around, Ella of Frell is our demure heroine. Instead of talking mice and evil cats, however, we now have ogres, fairies, elves, and giants. Instead of a king in search of a bride for his son, we have a power-greedy uncle and a naive prince. Instead of a servant girl blessed by a fairy godmother in order to go to the royal ball, we have a frustrated girl, who can’t say no to anyone, romping through the forest with a prince and an elf as her companions.
A Blessing . . . er, Curse?
In the land of Kyrria, in the town of Frell, Ella is born to a happy mother and father. Upon the birth of a new baby, families request the blessing of the fairies. Each fairy blesses their assigned babies with a “gift”. All the fairies are great gift givers. Well, all except for Lucinda . . .
Lucinda is assigned to Ella (much to Ella’s mother’s dismay.) An attempt to hide the baby quickly falls through and Lucinda happily “blesses” Ella with the gift of obedience. This doesn’t seem to be a bad thing. Why would the gift of obedience be bad? We soon find out. Ella comes to the defense of a girl on the playground, and the bully says, “Bite me!” Ella snaps to attention and immediately bites the girl. Now we understand why this is a difficult gift to have.
Shortly after the events on the playground, Ella’s mother passes away. Before taking her last breath, Ella’s mother makes her promise never to tell anyone about her “gift”. Her father doesn’t even know that she is cursed to be obedient for all eternity. However, she is not entirely alone. Mandy, the household fairy, knows Ella’s secret and is a comforting companion.
Time passes and Ella is a young adult (maybe 18ish?) Her father has just announced that he is remarrying. Ella is surprised, but her father says that they need money and this woman is apparently made of it. Ella takes it in stride and smiles contentedly as she is introduced to her new step-family. Smiles disappear quickly though. Ella’s stepsisters – Hattie and Olive – are demanding, selfish, and inconsiderate. Oh, and did I mention that they’re obsessed? You’ll never guess over what, or shall I say, who.
Prince Charmont (or Char – pronounced “Shar” – as he likes to be called) has a fan club. A huge fan club. It seems to be made of every single girl in the kingdom. But he couldn’t care less. His coronation is next week. Well, he couldn’t care less about that either. In fact, forget the crown. He doesn’t know anything about his people or the political climate. In fact, that’s his uncle’s area of expertise – Edgar. Come to think of it . . . Edgar should maybe be calling the shots of what happens in the kingdom since Char doesn’t know anything. Yes, Edgar is capable, says Char. Let him make the big decisions!
Oh, but Edgar has already been calling all the shots for quite some time . . .
Ella is much more knowledgeable than her prince-ling counterpart. In fact, she’s an activist for ogre-rights, giant-rights, and elf-rights. She even waves banners and yells, “Say no to ogre-cide” when Prince Char shows up in Frell for a re-introduction of himself to the people in honor of his coronation. Before Ella and Areida’s (Ella’s best friend) signs and yells make any difference to Edgar and Prince Char, Hattie orders Ella to go home. Ella must obey and leaves just before the crowd of prince-obsessed, overly-crazed, and love-sick single girls of Frell charge the prince.
In his escape from the crazed fan-club, Prince Char literally runs into Ella. They talk briefly, but are found by Hattie and Olive. Hattie once again orders Ella to go home, but she somehow ends up back in the marketplace with Areida. Unfortunately, Hatties seems to have figured out Ella’s propensity to obey, though she can’t tell why or how. Hattie proceeds to force Ella to steal and to betray her best-friend. When night finally comes, Ella decides that she must find a way to turn back the curse. The only way to do that, is to search out the whereabouts of Lucinda the fairy.
And so, Ella’s adventure begins.
That Was Interesting . . .
What can I say? I’m honestly half-way between laughing and cringing. Let’s go over the negative parts first!
Shortly after the movie starts, baby Ella urinates on the fairy Lucinda after she receives the gift of obedience.
In a school debate with her step-sister Hattie, Ella mentions that she’s pretty sure Hattie based some of her opinions on the fact that she “likes the prince’s butt.” The other step-sister, Olive is obviously missing some things in the higher regions of her person and is subsequently quite stupid. She also steals with absolutely no qualms from Ella’s bedroom, the Frell marketplace, and even the palace.
The movie is narrated in part by a man chanting a sort of rhyme that matches the story. At one point, the rhyme quite obviously should end in b—h, but the man quickly recovers from the awkward silence and says instead “witch.”
The Prince Char Fan Club is obnoxious, to say the least, but also very suggestive if you’re actually paying close attention. Hattie obviously believes she will one day marry the prince, and it comes out anytime she is close to Char. When the club tours the castle, the tour guide asks the ladies to stop “tonguing the floor.” Hattie asks where Prince Char’s shower is, and Olive realizes that Prince Char must “shower naked.”
Other suggestive elements include quite a bit of cleavage from Lucinda the fairy in the first scene, and a little towards the end of the movie. Hattie has some cleavage as well, especially while she meets with Prince Char’s uncle, Edgar, to discuss Ella. Ella dances fairly sensuously at a giant’s wedding, and ends up in Char’s arms. At the same giant party, there are some inappropriate clothes. Edgar orders Ella to “shake her booty” and it is quite suggestive with the way he looks at her and seems to enjoy it. At the end of the movie, Ella looks like she is striping, but turns out to have a different, shorter dress under what she had been wearing. It’s a little more revealing, but not horrible.
There are two slightly intense kisses. Char has his shirt off briefly when Ella tends to a sword wound on his arm.
There are brief views of plumber-crack on a few ogres. There are drunk fairies and one giant lets loose a massive bit of gas. There appear to be cross-dressing or transgender giants singing background vocals for Ella’s solo, but it’s really hard to tell. They may just be girls with low voices!
The Point Is . . .
Whew! That was a lot of questionable material if you ask me . . . honestly, none of it was heinous, but at the same time, it’s a slippery slope. This movie is an opportunity to exercise discernment. The prince is cute, and Anne Hathaway gives a similar performance to The Princess Diaries, but there’s some inappropriate things and quite a bit of suggestive humor.
But! That being said, I want to discuss some other things before you decide whether or not to watch Ella Enchanted.
The main point behind this film is what Ella’s mother says near the beginning of the film: “What’s inside you is stronger than any curse.” It sounds so good, but that is a dangerous belief! Although it plays out well in Hollywood (*SPOILER ALERT* Ella marries the prince and will subsequently become the Queen of Frell), in reality, the curse of sin (as taught in the Bible) cannot be overcome by any human means. There is absolutely nothing within us that can help us to overcome our curse. We are sinners! We can only be saved by the working of God within us. This is obviously not portrayed in this fairy-tale.
To Watch or Not to Watch
I’m conflicted on whether or not I can actually say I like this movie. I like Prince Char (he fits the cute-prince, nice-hair stereotype quite nicely) and I enjoy Anne Hathaway’s portrayal of Ella (for the most part.) But there are some inconsistencies. For instance, when Hattie orders Ella to go back home for the second time when she finds Ella and Char in the forest together, Ella ends up in the marketplace. That can’t be possible!
The other inconsistency that bothered me actually appears in many similar films and stories. Let me explain: the main character is a sweet, but independent girl who doesn’t care a whit for the prince that everyone else is drooling over. Girl runs into prince on street, in forest, or somewhere else completely by accident and acts proud, rude, and like she couldn’t care less if he didn’t exist. Prince is hurt and speaks briefly on damaged feelings. (obviously already falling in love with the Girl.) Girl doesn’t care and eventually leaves him alone with his love-sick thoughts. Girl must go on adventure to save herself or someone else and happens to run into Prince again. Prince joins expedition and Girl starts to blush, flirt, and (sigh) fall in love. Oh and I forgot. Prince gets injured saving Girl and must take shirt off for Girl to bind wounds. And there will be a late-night kiss somewhere in the mix. That is exactly what happens in Ella Enchanted. Perhaps there is nothing wrong with this story-line, but I wish Hollywood would stick with either an independent girl who doesn’t care for guys, or a teenage flirt who can’t keep her eyes off the prince. In my mind, you can’t make them the same girl in a single film.
In Conclusion (Finally!)
I would say I’m sorry for how long this review turned out . . . but I had a lot to say so I’m not sorry.
I hope this will help you decide whether or not you want to watch this movie! Have you seen it already? What were your impressions? Let me know in the comments below!
Until the next cheesy Prince Charming run-in. 🙂
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