Ella Enchanted (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Tommy O'Haver|
|Based on||Ella Enchanted|
by Gail Carson Levine
|Music by||Nick Glennie-Smith|
|Cinematography||John de Borman|
|Edited by||Masahiro Hirakubo|
|Distributed by||Miramax Films|
|Box office||$27.4 million|
Ella Enchanted is a 2004 American fantasy romantic comedy film directed by Tommy O'Haver and written by Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith loosely based on Gail Carson Levine's 1997 novel of the same name. Starring Anne Hathaway and Hugh Dancy, the film plays with the usual fairy tale genre.
Within the kingdom of Lamia, in the town of Frell, a baby girl named Ella is born to Sir Peter and his wife Lady Eleanor. She is given the "gift of obedience" by a misguided and obnoxious fairy called Lucinda. This turns out to be more of a curse, as it forces Ella to do anything she is told to do, even if the command is against her wishes. Ella's mother, on her deathbed, warns her daughter not to tell anyone about the curse she is under, for fear that someone might use it to exploit Ella. After her mother's death, only Mandy, the household fairy, knows the secret.
Several years later, Ella's father remarries to a wealthy socialite, Dame Olga, who dislikes Ella. Her spoiled daughters Hattie and Olive notice Ella's obedience and start to humiliate her. Ella stumbles upon Prince Charmont, the handsome heir who will soon take the throne, as he's being pursued by his fan club of besotted young women. He invites Ella to the Coronation Ball, but Olga intercepts the invitation. Hattie and Olive, fan club members themselves, are overcome with jealousy. They force Ella to insult and cut ties with her best friend Areida.
Ella cannot bear her situation a moment longer, and resolves to find Lucinda, as she is the only one who can reverse the spell. Mandy helps by lending Ella her boyfriend Benny, whom she accidentally transformed into a talking magical book that can show people in their current surroundings. During her journey, Ella encounters an elf named Slannen, who wants to be a lawyer instead of an entertainer as the laws now require. They are both captured by a group of ogres, who want to eat them. Prince Charmont rescues them and accompanies them to a wedding in the land of giants, where Ella hopes to find Lucinda. En route, Ella opens Char's eyes to the cruelty of the laws oppressing elves and giants established by the acting ruler, Char's sinister uncle Sir Edgar. Char invites Ella to visit the palace's Hall of Records and find Lucinda faster. But Edgar's talking snake, Heston, the royal advisor, is spying on them. At the wedding, Ella and everyone else sings and dances to Queen's "Somebody to Love."
At the palace, Heston tells Edgar about Ella's obedience, which Hattie confirms when Edgar offers Hattie Char's hand in marriage. Knowing that Char intends to marry Ella, Edgar orders Ella to kill Char when he proposes to her, and also to keep this plan a secret. Edgar also reveals that he murdered Char's father. To save Char, Ella writes him a letter, saying she is leaving permanently and cannot explain why, which breaks his heart. She then asks Slannen to tie her to a tree, and to go ask the giants for their help. Eventually Lucinda stumbles upon Ella, and Ella asks her to undo the "gift" of obedience. Lucinda is offended that Ella doesn't like her gift, and simply tells Ella to remove it herself. She unties Ella, gives her a fancy dress, and tells her to attend the ball. She tries to resist the command to go to the ball, but is unsuccessful. When Char sees her, he takes her to the Hall of Mirrors, and then asks her to marry him.
Ella is about to stab him with the dagger Edgar provided, when she realizes Lucinda has provided the answer: looking into a mirror, she says, "You will no longer be obedient!" She drops the dagger but Char sees it. Edgar has been spying on them, and before Ella can explain things to Char he orders the guards to lock her up. Her execution is scheduled for the following day.
Meanwhile, Benny informs Slannen, the giants, and the ogres that Ella is in trouble, so they all sneak into the castle to rescue her. They find out that Edgar is switching the crown Char will receive during the ceremony with a poisoned crown. Ella and her allies burst in just in time to stop Char from putting on the poisoned crown. Edgar and Heston call for the knights and Red Guards, and a battle ensues. Ella explains everything to Char while she is fighting alongside him. Meanwhile Mandy manages to transform Benny back into a human. When Edgar's forces lose the battle, Heston tries to bite Char, but is stopped by Ella. Heston is then trampled by Char's fan club. Caught trying to kill the prince, Edgar admits to the crowd that he killed the King, giving the explanation that only he deserves the crown. Carried away by his own rhetoric, Edgar crowns himself which causes him to accidentally poison himself.
Char and Ella kiss; her stepsisters arrive and order her to stop, but she happily refuses. Char once again asks Ella to marry him, and she agrees: "Now that I'll do." The movie ends with their wedding and a musical number: "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" by Elton John and Kiki Dee. During all this, it's shown that Slannen is in a relationship with a giant named Brumhilda, Ella has rekindled her friendship with Areida, and Edgar has survived (albeit cognitively impaired by the poison). The Narrator announces two final words: The End.
- Anne Hathaway as Ella of Frell. she is under a spell (curse) given to her by a fairy named Lucinda which makes her obedient.
- Hugh Dancy as Prince "Char" Charmont, son of the late king that was killed by his uncle. He is treated as a teen icon and has his own fan club, though he doesn't agree with this label.
- Cary Elwes as Sir Edgar, the Prince's greedy uncle and King Regent who wants the crown for himself.
- Steve Coogan as Heston, Edgar's royal advisor.
- Aidan McArdle as Slannen, an elf who wanted to become a lawyer.
- Minnie Driver as Mandy, a household fairy who was the only person kind to Ella when Sir Peter left. She always has some flaws in her spells.
- Vivica A. Fox as Lucinda Perriweather, a well-meaning but misguided fairy who gave the "gift" to Ella. She never takes back her spells, and always helps at the wrong time.
- Eric Idle as the Narrator
- Parminder Nagra as Areida, Ella's best friend.
- Jim Carter as Nish, an ogre who eats humans. He is the leader of the pack of Ogres, and is protective of his territory.
- Patrick Bergin as Sir Peter, Ella's father who was a vendor of watches.
- Donna Dent as Lady Eleanor, Ella's mother
- Joanna Lumley as Dame Olga, Ella's cruel stepmother.
- Lucy Punch as Hattie, Ella's mean stepsister who is obsessed with Prince Charmont.
- Jennifer Higham as Olive, Ella's kleptomaniac and dim-witted stepsister who always follows her older sister Hattie, is often mistreated by her, and rarely speaks.
- Alvaro Lucchesi as Koopooduk, a giant who Char met at Giantsville.
- Heidi Klum as Brumhilda, a giantess who met Slannen in Giantsville and has feelings for Slannen despite his size.
- Jimi Mistry as Benny, Mandy's love interest. Turned into a talking book when one of Mandy's spells goes pear shaped.
- Johnny Nguyen (uncredited) as Red Knight
Hathaway, who first read the book when she was 16, says that there was originally a version of the script that was much closer to the book but that it didn't work as a film; she added that she prefers the way the movie actually turned out because it "makes fun of itself for being a fairy tale." Levine states that the film is "so different from the book that it's hard to compare them," noting the addition of new characters such as Sir Edgar and Heston, and suggested "regarding the movie as a separate creative act".
Jimi Mistry, a British actor of Indian descent, said that he enjoyed playing a talking book in the film because it offered him the opportunity to do something different from his other roles. "You can't get less Indian than a talking book, and an American talking book, so it was great," he said.
Miramax Films released the film on April 9, 2004. In 2010, Miramax's parent company, the Walt Disney Company, eventually sold Miramax to Filmyard Holdings, who in turn sold the company to beIN Media Group six years later. As of 2019, Disney still owns the rights to this film, and streams it for television on the Disney Channel. On April 30, 2013 the film was re-issued.
Ella Enchanted opened on April 9, 2004 and earned $6,169,030 in its opening weekend, ranking number nine at the domestic box office. At the end of its run, the film grossed $22,918,387 domestically and $4,470,380 overseas for a worldwide total of $27,388,767.
The film received mixed reviews from critics. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes holds a 50% score based on 115 reviews with an average rating of 5.6/10. The site's consensus reads: "Hathaway is a charming heroine, but the simple storyline gets overwhelmed by silly gimmickry." On Metacritic, the film has a 53 out of 100 rating based on 30 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
The soundtrack was released April 6, 2004 by Hollywood Records and features Kelly Clarkson's cover of Aretha Franklin's "Respect" along with "Somebody to Love" by Queen and "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" by Elton John and Kiki Dee, both as covered by Hathaway and Jesse McCartney.
- Ella Enchanted, the novel on which the film is based.
- "ELLA ENCHANTED (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. April 26, 2004. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
- "Ella Enchanted (2004)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 10, 2009.
- Murray, Rebecca. "Anne Hathaway on "Ella Enchanted" and Her Princess Roles". About.com. Retrieved November 11, 2008.
- "Gail Carson Levine". Kidsreads.com. Retrieved November 11, 2008.
- Murray, Rebecca. "Hugh Dancy Captures Hearts in "Ella Enchanted"". About.com. Retrieved November 11, 2008.
- "Science Fiction News of the Week". Science Fiction Weekly. Archived from the original on July 20, 2008. Retrieved December 2, 2008.
- "'Ella Enchanted' Leads The Production Schedule For Rest of 2002". IFTN. July 29, 2002.
- "Weekend Box Office Results for April 9-11, 2004". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. April 12, 2004. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
- "Ella Enchanted". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
- "Ella Enchanted". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
- "Ella Enchanted". Chicago Sun-Times.