Saturday, 24 December 2011
Ella Enchanted; fantasy comedy, USA, 2004; D: Tommy O'Haver, S: Anne Hathaway, Hugh Dancy, Aidan McArdle, Cary Elwes, Minnie Driver, Eric Idle
In a medieval magical land, a clumsy fairy gave baby Ella the "gift of obedience" - as a consequence, Ella is forced to do whatever others tell her to. When her stepsisters find that out, they exploit her. Still, Ella meets prince Charmont and persuades him to use his future power to stop the oppression of elves, ogres and giants which is carried out by his suspicious uncle Edgar. Having found out about her secret, Edgar orders Ella to stab Charmont at midnight. However, she refuses and thus breaks the spell.
"Ella Enchanted" is such an audaciously outrageous fairytale comedy that it can easily divide the audience, yet its charm in blending in "The Princess Bride", teenage girls, "Cinderella" and an amended variation of "Liar Liar" outweigh towards the positive tone and help mitigate an occasionally silly moment. 90 % of that charm was achieved thanks to the talented Anne Hathaway and a couple of sharp satirical ideas (one of the best is when Ella's activism and fight for ogre rights is shown in the scene where she protests against the prince and his rule by holding a banner that says "Say no to ogrecide") while the rather contrived basic premise did not catch some viewers on the right foot. Banal solutions aside, this is a fairly good family fun with postmodern references and a spectacularly sneaky satirical jab at conformity and populism, which is faithful to its simple constitution.