SPOILERS Fairy tales help us feel good about life. Often changed beyond belief from their original style (just look at Disney's alterations to multiple different classics), they make you smile and forget the real world for a while. It's particularly inappropriate then for Eric Idle's narrator to literally tell you to get back to reality. Telling the story of 'Ella Enchanted', Idle is just one of many flaws with this predictable and vomit inducing film. Possessing few moments of true pleasure, the story is average and feels incredibly amateur. Badly shot, often badly acted (a shock considering some of the names on the cast sheet) and always awkward, you do wonder why you finish with a smile on your face.
As a baby, Ella (Anne Hathaway) is given a particularly awful present by a self absorbed fairy (Vivica A Fox). Unable to turn down a request, Ella finds that everything in her life revolves around doing the commands of others. Increasingly frustrated by two awful step sisters (Lucy Punch and Jennifer Higham) and their demands, Ella decides to put an end to this once and for all. Setting off to find the fairy, Ella's adventures are just beginning.
This is the first time that this particular viewer has seen Anne Hathaway perform on screen (having avoided 'The Princess Diaries') and it's not difficult to see why many like her. The perfect Hollywood starlet with a wide smile and an almost constant air of 'cute', Hathaway is yet another of these up and coming beautiful women. It's a shame therefore that she's also an awful actress. Doing the typical blowing the hair in a 'oh no' sort of way every time she is ordered to do something, Hathaway's style is hardly the most diverse. At the same time though, she's hardly given a helping hand by her supporting cast and a dreadful story.
To possess a cast including Eric Idle, Jimi Mistry, Jim Carter, Cary Elwes and Joanna Lumley, you'd expect some better performances. Whilst Carter and Lumley are blatantly out for a laugh and seem to enjoy themselves, others including Elwes and Idle are truly dreadful. Singing everything in rhyme, Idle really should view this as a mistake to remove from his c.v. He strolls around in different outfits and he never looks comfortable. It's almost like the poor man is using the film as a vehicle to show himself to a younger audience. Bad choice there Eric, you're doing yourself no favours with this film.
Predictable from the outset, a sick bucket is a useful companion if you want to watch this. The worst part about this is that these moments often occur just when you've witnessed a rare funny moment or a decent satire of society. For example, one minute you get Hathaway telling Hugh Dancy's Prince Char (obviously changed to make him look more hip and to avoid any references to the current British monarchy) that he has a responsibility to do particular actions for the good of his kingdom, and then the next you find her singing and dancing for what feels like an eternity. It's just so dumb and pointless.
Without trying to really destroy the whole fairy tale aspect of the story, let's just point out that you just know that there will be a porn equivalent out of this film within a short space of time. Here's a cute girl who does whatever she's told, and yet with the exception of one moment when Cary Elwes tells her to touch her toes and he stands behind her grinning, you never sense any sort of sexuality about it. There would be teenage boys pointing this out and making countless rude comments, although lets be honest, most are probably out having a better time than watching this garbage.
Another problem, and the final real criticism (promise) of this film, is that more often than not, it feels like it has actually been filmed and put together by a bunch of toddlers. Obscure camera zoom modes (feeling stolen from an Alanis Morrisette video), weird use of colours, woeful soundtrack, the entire film just feels incredibly amateur in design and completion. This is one of Tommy O'Haver's few films and true-fully it feels like it. The man has screwed up major with this shambles and the sooner Hollywood stops offering him work, the better.
It's perhaps fitting to make a nod at the films aims and the horrifying fact that on one front, they succeeded with honours. This, for all intense purposes, is an awful, awful creation. Rarely entertaining, vomit inducing and badly made, it really should feature on any persons 'most hated' list. That is, except that for whatever evil reason, you DO find yourself smiling at the end. You know you shouldn't, and by all the laws of the universe, it should be an impossibility, so how does this happen? It's tough to explain really. Perhaps deep down, we all just like to see mindless dross with a happy ending. From an analytical point of view, as viewers you should finish the film wanting to put all those who made it on trial for crimes against humanity, so please stop smiling.
'Ella Enchanted' is a dire waste of time. Badly acted, badly written, badly films, vomit inducing and mindless drivel, the film has very little going for it. For some reason though, and against all natural law, you can't help but smiling after it. You probably should be locked in a mental institution for that fact, but sadly the doctors were smiling too.