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Ella Enchanted
cast: Anne Hathaway, Minnie Driver, Eric Idle, Joanna Lumley, and Steve Coogan

director: Tommy O'Haver

92 minutes (PG) 2004 widescreen ratio 16:9
Buena Vista DVD Region 2 rental
Also available to buy on DVD
[released 18 April]

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by John Percival
Ella Enchanted is the colourful and amusing fairytale of a young girl who as baby was given the gift of obedience by her Fairy Godmother, Lucinda. The unfortunate side effect of this gift is that Ella has to obey every command given to her. Forced to hide the knowledge of this spell from those around her, Ella's life becomes extremely complicated with the arrival of the local Prince.

It seems for the most part of pretty derivative fairytale story featuring all the standard elements, the pretty but down trodden maiden, two ugly sisters, a wicked stepmother, fairies, a handsome prince plus a sprinkling of elves, ogres and giants. However what we have is a really funny and unusual fairytale bought bang up to date.

Anne Hathaway (The Princess Diaries) is the strong willed Ella, cursed by the gift. She is against the current ruling royalty and fights for the rights of the oppressed groups of giants, elves and ogres. Her sense of what is right is very strong and this often bought into conflict when commanded to do things by others. She has to obey regardless of the consequences.

Initially she is against the soon to be crowned Prince Char (Hugh Dancy), she considered him to be an elitist pretty boy. This view is derived from his uncle being the cruel head of the royal household and the screaming throng of girls who make up his official fan club. In fact Ella's view of him is wrong and he is simply na�ve. It is their chance meeting and subsequent journey to find the elusive fairy godmother, Lucinda, which forces him to realise exactly what it going on around him and promise to take positive action on his crowning. Of course they also fall in love.

All along the way there are large colourful characters in silly situations all of which bear the mark of the standard fairy tale, but they are quirky enough to be forgiven or the story moves at pace faster enough for it not to matter. Either way it would be wrong to take the film too seriously, after all it is not Hamlet. From the rhyming narration from Monty Python's Eric Idle to the very daft everyone singing Elton John's Don't Go Breaking My Heart ending, anyone expect anything more deep than a live action Shrek will be disappointed. Remember it is for the kids. Older viewers will be able to laugh at the jokes and performances by a whole load of famous faces, include Patrick Bergin, Vivica A. Fox, Minnie Driver, Parminder K. Nagra, Jimi Mistry, plus a cameo by Heidi Klum. Ella Enchanted is good family movie which most of the family will actually like.

Along with the colourful movie, this DVD features animated fairytale book menus. The extras include deleted and extended scenes. Featurettes are Prince Charmont's Fan Club and The Magical World Of Ella Enchanted, also a Red Carpet Premiere Special. One miss would be the music video It's Not Just Make Believe performed by some cheesy American teenager called Kari Kimmel.

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