Saturday, August 18, 2007

Always Enchanting

Last week I had set the DVR to tape a movie and last night my wife and I finally got around to watching it. The film was 2004's Ella Enchanted, a fairy-tale story of a young girl "gifted" at birth with obedience. After her father brings home a new step-mother and two horrid step-sisters, poor Ella finds she needs to leave Frell and find a way to get the gift removed before it runs her life. Along the way, she encounters elves, ogres and giants - oh and she ends up falling for the handsome prince despite her best efforts.

This was one of those movies we had planned to see in the theatres but never got to. It was cute and entertaining. The storyline was predictable in some parts and very cheesey in others. But it was a fun cheese.

The cast had some nice surprises in it. Of course, there was Anne Hathaway as Ella. Joanna Lumley (of Absolutely Fabulous) plays her new stepmother in a wonderfully wicked way. Lucy Punch plays the equally annoying and evil older stepsister. Minnie Driver plays one of the household staff who is also a fairy. Eric Idle (from Monty Python fame) is the narrator. Vivica A. Fox is the fairy who gave her the annoying "gift". And Heidi Klum even shows up as one of the giants.

What really made the film fun for me is two things. First is Anne Hathaway herself. This was her second film after her breakout debut in the Princess Diaries in 2001. As with that film, she is delightful in this one. Something about her carries that girl-next-door with both brains and beauty. She's the type of person you wouldn't mind babysitting your kids - as she would be responsible as well as entertaining. I always enjoy films that she has done - and was even pleasantly surprised by her role in Brokeback Mountain in 2005. I still need to see the Devil Wears Prada.

The second thing about the film was the music. Yes, this is a fairy tale with a lot of modern references and illusions. So, to score it, they used popular music from the 70's and early 80's. Now, these are covers but they are good covers. I mean, really, any film that can pull in songs like "Strange Magic", "Don't Go Breaking My Heart", "Walking On Sunshine", "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing" and "Somebody To Love" gets strong marks in my book. These gave me that warm, familiar feeling - like snuggling with your favorite blanket as a kid while your parents read you from the Brothers Grimm.

If you're looking for a rental or something on cable that you can enjoy with your younger kids, this one works nicely. You just might find yourself enjoying bits of it too.

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