I’m horribly behind on all the book and movie reviews of things I read and watched during 2016 since the last couple of months have been ridiculously busy with work and the holidays. So I actually watched Ella Enchanted at the beginning of December and I’m only just now writing my review of it.
“On the day of her birth, Ella is given a gift from her Fairy Godmother – the gift of obedience, which is also a curse. Under no circumstances can Ella refuse anything she is asked to do, no matter how wicked it may be. Tired of being taken advantage of, Ella, with a talking book as her companion, leaves home to find her Fairy Godmother and return her unwanted gift. This simple errand soon turns into an amazing journey filled with ogres, giants, wicked stepsisters, elves and the plotting of Prince Charmont’s evil uncle, who wants to take over the crown and rule the kingdom. Bursting with colorful characters, music, wit and whimsy, Ella Enchanted is a truly enchanting and heartwarming tale that will captivate the entire family.”
I remember watching this movie because my day at work had been super busy and I just wanted to turn something on that was funny and light and that wouldn’t require too much of my intellectual or emotional capacity. Ella Enchanted was just what I needed to wind down a very, very long day and relax for a little bit.
While watching the movie, I was chatting with one of my friends who told me that she liked the book better and I actually didn’t know that there was a book. She said the movie was too different from the book for her to enjoy the movie too much but I have no frame of reference for that, as I haven’t read the book.
The movie was definitely a lot of fun. It’s a non-standard fairy-tale with a non-standard family and a non-standard fairy gift. I can’t imagine obedience being a trait sought out by any person as a special skill. Now, I can see obedience being sought after as a trait horrible people would want in others, to be obeyed without question and be able to exercise their own power over others, which, as sad and unfortunate as that is, is something a lot of people in our world seem to enjoy. I am not one of those people. I believe that free will is pretty much the greatest gift we were given and that anyone who impedes the free will of others, so long as that free will isn’t being used to cause harm to others, is pretty much the worst kind of person I can think of.
Which brings me back to Ella Enchanted.
Ella’s stepsisters definitely abuse Ella’s forced obedience, making her do the most ridiculous things, and even forcing Ella to give up the things that matter the most to her. Hattie orders Ella to give up her mother’s necklace, as well as ordering her to lose a debate at school, and ordering Ella to destroy her friendship with Areida. I really didn’t like watching Hattie make things miserable for Ella and I really didn’t like the abuse Ella received at Hattie’s hands. Hattie was so selfish that the things she did do Ella really bothered me. While Ella was able to take some charge of some of the situations, such as substituting plants for the flowers she was ordered to collect with those which would cause an allergic reaction, most of what she was required to do was horrible and distasteful.
I think the movie did an interesting job of making this fairy-tale so that a lot of the more modern audience might be able to relate to it, such as by using a fairly modern soundtrack and showing Ella and Areida as progressive and intelligent women who want to actually make their world a better place instead of the petty and shallow aspirations of Olga, Hattie, and Olive. Hattie and Olive are members of Prince Charmont’s fan club because of his physical appearance while Ella is supremely annoyed with Prince Charmont for catering to a world where he has no responsibilities and has the luxury of being shallow. I think this movie actually did a pretty decent job of showing that responsibility and working to make the world a better place are much more attractive personality traits that shallowness and physical appearance. When Ella and Charmont first meet, Ella doesn’t like him very much and Charmont is greatly intrigued by this because he’s used to everyone, especially women, just falling all over him. As the two get to know each other better, it’s obvious that they get along really well and actually have similar ideas as to what would make the world a better place, especially once Charmont starts seeing his kingdom with his own eyes and the injustices that are happening to his subjects.
I was interested in the different way the other races were portrayed in this story, such as how the elves were only allowed to exist so long as they were providing entertainment for others and how the giants were used as slaves. Both of these situations show that slavery is slavery, no matter how gilded the cage might seem. People might think that providing entertainment for others is a wonderful thing to do, but not if that’s your only authorized job in the world. And just because you’re big and strong doesn’t mean you should be subjected to hard labor.
The movie had some interesting musical numbers and I thought it was well done, for what it was and what it was intended to be. I enjoyed it and would probably rate it as a high two on my rating scale. It’s not a movie I can watch very often but I am happy I own it and will likely watch it again in the future.