ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  tommy o'haver

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  fantasy

LENGTH  -  96 minutes

RELEASED  -  9 april 2004

DISTRIBUTOR  -  miramax pictures

OFFICIAL SITE  -  ella enchanted

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $35,000,000
ella enchanted - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from ella enchanted at

buy the dvd from ella enchanted at

ella is under a spell to be constantly obediant, a fact she must hide from her new step-family in order to protect the prince of the land, her friend whom she's falling for.

this film represents the first in a line of "family friendly" movies being produced by the production company, miramax.


picture from ella enchanted

picture from ella enchanted

picture from ella enchanted


three out of four possible stars

As it is not her first foray into the world of portraying royalty, one might expect Anne Hathaway's performance in Ella Enchanted to resemble her other fanciful outings, but this is quite her most enthusiastic role to date. The film, which brings to mind that other great fairy tale farce, The Princess Bride (this film can even credit Cary Elwes to its cast), is an adaptation of a novel by Gail Carson Levine, and while fans of the novel might have their qualms about the piece being brought to the screen, the movie itself is, for lack of a more and completely appropriate word, enchanting. Due mostly to the strong performance from the young Hathaway, Ella is filled with modern thoughts on racial equality and civil rights.

Whenever there is a film released which has been based on a beloved novel, there are always "purists" who seem to base the success of the film on whether the story-line matches completely the novel's plot. And it is doubtless that fans of the novel will find changes in this story as it is on screen, but that concern probably won't matter to the general population. In fact, the film can boast of an appeal for audiences young and old. Although there is the seemingly requisite fart joke inserted into the mix (why can't a comedy exist without fart jokes?), the film will probably hold the attention of older viewers just as easily as it will ensnare the minds of younger folks.

Although audiences under the age of twelve will find the greatest entertainment value from the film, older viewers prone to enjoying cinematic fluff and flights of fancy might find themselves just as engrossed as the tots of the audience as the film rolls along at a brisk rate, never getting bogged down in its "message." Though the theme of "every person is created equal" (or in this case, every elf, human, ogre, and giant) is presented in nearly every scene, that lesson is by no means too intense. Of course, had the lead role been inhabited by a lesser actress, the film would not have seemed quite so sprightly.

The idea of obedience could probably be considered another theme of the film, though the idea feels more at times a device of the plot, allowing "Ella" to find herself in various snares and traps. The range of emotion and enthusiasm given to the audience through her character is fantastic and Hathaway should feel accomplished in her ability to bring equal amounts of believability and enthusiasm to the role. Though her limited roles thus far have not given her the chance to really branch away from the Disney-like type roles she is quickly becoming known for, her performance in Ella is nonetheless captivating.

The supporting cast is appropriately chosen with Parminder Nagra underused after a brief appearance in the beginning of the film and included in a rather token shot at the end. Eric Idle is a welcome addition to the film as a rhyming narrator who drops in at various times during the movie to provide poorly written stanzas (they are poorly written on purpose) with his entirely unique delivery. Minnie Driver is rather adorable as a bumbling "house fairy" who helps Ella in her quest to find the fairy who bestowed the unwelcome "gift" of obedience on her as an infant. And as the object of Ella's quest, Vivica A. Fox fills her practically insane character with a suitable amount of lunacy. As Ella’s fairy-tale prince, the strangely beautiful Hugh Dancy fills his character’s shoes with aplomb and has solid chemistry with Hathaway.

The special effects are well done with a spectacular opening sequence that flies the audience over and through various fairy-tale inspired towns (most of which resemble the classic English countryside with its Black and White houses and thatched roof cottages). The final seconds of the opening is expertly merged from a long shot of a miniature town to the front yard of a life-sized house. Although experienced eyes will be able to discern the various "invisible" cuts in the opening sequence, this last transition is impressive and seamlessly done.

Although there are some adult references that will fly over the heads of the younger audience members, those references are not so overt as to cause concern in parents who feel the references might be too crass (like, for example, the adult themes in 2001's Shrek). And despite that one fart joke, the comedy in the film is bubbly and will charm viewers much more often than not. The film definitely won't appeal to the entire spectrum of movie-goers, but in the genre of children's films, this film stands out as one of the year's best. And as an experience for the older viewer, fans of fairy tales will find the characters and story entertaining and an experience worth having in the theater.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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