Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

Earnest Goes to Camp 

Fawning fantasy meets funky freakout in Ella Enchanted.

The heroine's journey includes a charming prince, natch.
  • The heroine's journey includes a charming prince, natch.
Fairy tales are odd little beasts, as they're supposed to plunk us into fantastic worlds while also conveying some universal truths inherent under the surface of our big, boring, loud, violent, obnoxious world. But they've also become fodder for "re-envisioning," which increasingly means "mucking up with excessive cheekiness." Ella Enchanted falls into this campy category, but it also offers considerable charm and an earnest desire to please. Like a lapdog in a DayGlo sweater, its presence is amusing over a finite span, and kicking its squeaky little ass out the door would only make you feel guilty.

Besides, Ella Enchanted is designed for young girls and the girlish at heart, who should find it engaging and fun. Our princess here is Ella of Frell (hyper-earnest Anne Hathaway of The Princess Diaries, growing up fast), a Cinderella type who gets saddled with a couple of nasty stepsisters when her father remarries. As her new stepmother is the bitchy Dame Olga (Joanna Lumley), Ella needs a change of scenery, thus this adventure.

The crux is that Ella suffers what she calls "the curse," but it's probably not what you're thinking: She was given the "gift" of complete obedience by a fairy named Lucinda (Vivica Fox), and therefore has no choice but to do exactly as she is told. The steps torment Ella by making her steal items from the zany Frell Galleria, which ends in mayhem and arrest, leading her to seek counsel. Ella's freckly and quasi-mystical nursemaid Mandy (Minnie Driver) consults her smarty boyfriend Benny (Jimi Mistry), and the plan emerges: Ella must, like, go off questing for her own autonomy, or something.

Along the way, Ella deals with strange characters, encounters The Love Interest (in this case the socially conscious Prince Charmont, played by Hugh Dancy), and confronts the mildly evil but none too threatening Sir Edgar (Cary Elwes of the similarly toned The Princess Bride).

The script weaves erratically from giggle to girl-power to Shimmering Emotional Moment without much sense of urgency. The adaptation of Gail Carson Levine's award-winning novel adds glaring anachronisms but is otherwise strictly by-the-numbers. Coming out on top, however, is director Tommy O'Haver, who makes a quantum leap from his previous works (Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss, Get Over It) to helm this colorful extravaganza.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at news@clevescene.com.

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.

Latest in Screens

More by Gregory Weinkauf

Read the Digital Print Issue

September 9, 2020

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Calendar

© 2020 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 241-7550
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.


Website powered by Foundation