Ella Enchanted (2004)

Ultimate 90’s blogathon is done and wrapped up. It is time to embrace some movie reviews. I have to admit that I actually didn’t watch a lot of movies over the last three weeks. I took the opportunity to catch up on TV series and gaming, which was a really nice change in pace.

I am a fan of Anna Hathaway and especially in those Princess Diaries days and I am also a sucker for princess/Cinderella stories which makes Ella Enchanted all the more fantastic. It has been a while that I’ve wanted to see this one so I was excited to see it land on Netflix! Lets give it a go!

Ella Enchanted (2004)

ella enchanted

Director: Tommy O’Haver

Cast: Anne Hathaway, Hugh Dancy, Cary Elwes, Minnie Driver, Aidan McArdle, Joanna Lumley, Lucy Punch, Jennifer Higham, Eric Idle, Vivica A. Fox

Ella is under a spell to be constantly obedient, a fact she must hide from her new step-family in order to protect the prince of the land, her friend for whom she’s falling. – IMDB

Ella Enchanted is an innocent fun movie, actually much more than my first impressions that I remembered of it back when it released. While it does give a Cinderella-esque story, Ella embodies quite a few princesses we are familiar with. She does have an evil stepmother who brings two stepsisters and they do push her aside but Ella also has a fairy in the household and ends up getting a curse, like Sleeping Beauty except her curse is one of being obedient. While it seems great as a baby for their parents, as she grew up, it started to cause her to do many things she didn’t want to. Ella lived with no choices and under people’s desires because of this curse. However, she is very kind and accepting. It is hard to not cheer for Ella when she sets out on her journey to find Lucinda, the fairy who granted her this “gift” and feel bad for her predicament when she gets caught up in bad situations.

Ella Enchanted

Anne Hathaway does a great job at being Ella. There’s a bit of the whole innocent and Princess Diaries’ vibe in her at this point. It is a likeable trait and shows lot of potential in being more as an actress. We do know that she is capable of bigger and more mature roles nowadays. Most of the scenes with Ella as some of the best because she is so fun to watch. Along with the fact that her and Hugh Dancy have pretty good chemistry that it makes their love story even more appealing. I haven’t seen Hugh Dancy in a lot of movies. The one I remember slightly might be a few years ago when I saw Confessions of a Shopaholic (and then IMDB tells me that I’ve also seen him in Blood and Chocolate and The Jane Austen Book Club, oh well). He is a charming man for sure and fits well in the role of Prince Char. Perhaps the most entertaining part of Ella Enchanted is watching these two characters. While over the top to a certain degree, still manages to remain believable.
Ella Enchanted

Aside from our main characters, Ella’s crew of friends that she makes along her journey probably are the silliest. She has a magical book that is her household fairy, Mandy’s (played by Minnie Driver) boyfriend. There’s an elf who wants to be a lawyer and not sing and dance. There’s some silly orcs (I think) and of course, some friendly giants. The story is that Char’s uncle is ruling over the kingdom before he comes into coronation, which is pretty much when the story is set and he has decreed rules that make the other species feel repressed and treated cruelly. These friends while filled with a heart of courage and help with making this funny, sometimes can be a little off beat from the story. It still is fun and innocent especially seeing as this is a truly harmless story and one that we’re pretty familiar with.

Ella Enchanted

Finally, our villain. All fairy tales have one. Ours is none other than Char’s power lusting uncle Edgar played by Cary Elwes. And he also has a sidekick which is a magical CGI snake called Heston. Are you sensing an Aladdin’s Jafar feeling here with his Iago? Either way, Ella Enchanted is very lighthearted and even in its most sinister and dark moments still manages to keep it light and funny. Edgar is completely comedic in many ways. The other villain, in some ways, is the stepsister played by Lucy Punch who really just wanted Ella out of the way in order to get her hands on Prince Char for herself. Nothing too threatening about this character other than the fact that she’s merely a pawn in the whole ordeal to Ella’s dilemma. What makes sure that we are definitely watching a mash-up princess movie and not Cinderella is that our villain isn’t the stepmother who would mimick the role of Lady Tremaine but really has a small role here and who is not at all threatening.

Ella Enchanted

Ella Enchanted is an innocent and fun movie. It never lets us forget that we are watching a fairy tale story with an impressive heroine geared towards a younger audience. It keeps it light by staying comedic and making it a funny affair to watch. There is good chemistry between Anne Hathaway and Hugh Dancy who are clearly the strength of this film. The story is familiar and simple and quite predictable and yet, there’s something charming about it. Perhaps it is because fairy tales, especially live action ones nowadays are getting so dark that its nice to visit one that remembers to keep it fun and fantastical.

Have you seen Ella Enchanted?

Netflix A-Z: The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

Next up on the Valentine’s Marathon and the Netflix A-Z selection, we’re at J! Honestly, I and J had such limited selections especially when focused on one genre, that the choice was easy.  This week, we’re going for The Jane Austen Book Club.  What’s a little Valentine’s Marathon without some form of Jane Austen, right? I didn’t think the movie was almost 10 years ago but the cast looks really good and the idea of our life and romances relating to Jane Austen novels is good one since most of Jane Austen’s novels are not just romance but a social commentary also.

Let’s check it out! 🙂

The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

The Jane Austen Book Club

Director: Robin Swicord

Cast: Maria Bello, Emily Blunt, Kathy Baker, Amy Brenneman, Maggie Grace, Jimmy Smits, Hugh Dancy, Kevin Zegers, Marc Blucas

Six Californians start a club to discuss the works of Jane Austen, only to find their relationships — both old and new — begin to resemble 21st century versions of her novels.-IMDB

 Its hard to dislike any movie that uses Jane Austen and her works as the foundation of their story.  The Jane Austen Book Club is really the same thing.  The film isn’t particularly long but to also have to highlight the six characters relationships and the parallels to Jane Austen’s stories is a challenge in itself.  I think that Jane Austen Book Club might at times feel like its not taking enough time for the characters but it does a decent job for us to understand what each one is thinking.  What really takes it above is that the group itself is a variety of people that reflect kind of the different values that any group would have from liking being alone to recently divorced; younger college age versus older; and finally trying to spark a marriage while resisting temptation. Everyone comes down to the question: What would Jane do?

The Jane Austen Book Club

In their turmoil and dilemmas, Jane Austen’s stories give them light and a group of friends. There are moments that might seem a little overly sentimental or even quite predictable, except the cast itself does a fantastic job of carrying each of their characters and it makes for an entertaining film. What is even better is that everyone knows a different depth of Austen novels and with one being a complete newbie, it never loses its viewers in the context (hopefully because I am recently reading Jane Austen Classics so I may be biased).  As a Austen fan or simply an avid reader, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of being able to relate to people who find themselves through books.  That is exactly what these ladies are.  Sure, its about Austen and their lives relating to the stories but it also teaches them something different in each one and to make choices for themselves.

Jane Austen Book Club

The characters that had the most screen time definitely went to Maria Bello and Hugh Dancy who was the main characters who struggled to be together.  On one hand, it was a story of Maria Bello’s character, Jocelyn being somewhat like a modern day Emma who drags a guy Grigg (played by Hugh Dancy) in hoping to match him up with a recently divorced best friend, Sylvia (played by Amy Brenneman).  Except in reality, she tries to push away those feelings that she has for him.  While that is central to the story, it leads us to see the other stories as well.  We get Sylvia’s story as reading Austen’s actually lets her realize how to be independent as a divorced woman.  On the other hand, her daughter Allegra joins and gives a different younger perspective of the story.  Grigg is definitely the male voice in their analysis.  Another character worth mentioning is Prudie, played by Emily Blunt, and her heavy morals on self-control.  Maybe she falls into the Sense and Sensibility story as she tries to resist the seduction of a student (played by Kevin Zegers) but also wanting to rekindle her own marriage. There is a lot going on and the parallels are even harder to figure out if one story relates to an Austen novel/character or if it  just blurs together eventually. They definitely all have the contrasting personalities to show has a different interpretation of a situation and how to face it. Just look at the cast though, it is amazing and they absolutely deliver great performances.

Jane Austen Book Club

I think that is what is so good about Jane Austen Book Club.  Despite the dramatic moments, there is still a level of feel-good moments.  Everyone embodies a bit of Austen’s characters and without realizing it makes decision similar to those in her novels.  The storyline goes from month to month division where we see the book they are reading right before they jump into the meeting itself with just a little bit of events in between to give some context.  Maybe there are too many characters for its own good but it does keep a decent balance.

Overall, The Jane Austen Book Club is a fine little romantic drama-comedy.  It has a widespan of characters and tries its best to keep the Austen stories and context understandable even to those who don’t know much about it.  They divide the stories well enough to make us understand what (some of) the characters are going through.  The cast really takes the script and makes it their own and that is definitely the highlight.  While the story is a little predictable and maybe gets sentimental at other bits, there is still a feel-good factor.  The reader in me approves this movie very much. 🙂

Have you seen The Jane Austen Book Club? What did you think of it?

We will be taking a little Netflix A-Z break starting next week!
Ultimate 80s Blogathon starts on Feb 15th and that will be the main focus.
However, before that, Valentine’s Marathon ends with the two Nicholas Sparks movies I haven’t reviewed yet.
Lets hope its not too cringe-worthy! 😉