Ella Enchanted (BrianOrndorf)

Upon her birth, Ella (Anne Hathaway) was given the gift of obedience by her fairy godmother (Vivica A. Fox). Forced to do anything that is requested of her, Ella is helpless to the whims of her enemies. Frustrated, she tries to locate her godmother with the help of a talking book (Jimi Mistry). In the course of her journey, Ella meets the Beatles-esque popular prince of the land (Hugh Dancy), who is very enamored of Ella, and attempts to assist her. In their way is the prince’s evil uncle (Cary Elwes), who desires the throne for himself, and tries to use Ella’s curse to kill the prince. Racing against time, and the nefarious intentions of her evil stepsisters, Ella struggles to find the cure for her “gift,” and hopes the prince doesn’t turn away from her in the process.

“Elle Enchanted” exists in a very annoying genre: the make-fun-of-everything-that-involves-fairy-tales genre, where the television production “The 10th Kingdom” and the beloved 1987 film, “The Princess Bride” live in. What “Ella” has more in common with is the blockbuster animated film, “Shrek,” which has given license to any production looking to make a buck off of “happily ever after” irreverence. “Ella” is loosely based on the book by Gail Carson Levine, but every inch of the film screams Fiona, Donkey, and Lord Farquaad. How depressing.

If you can stomach another round of painfully unfunny gags about sassy African American fairies, giants who are forced to harvest vegetables, princesses who perform “Matrix” kung-fu, elves who sing and dance (and quote Johnny Cochran), teen girls who read Tiger Beat style magazines about princes, newspaper ads that request employment for an “abacus programmer,” and fairies being pulled over for FWIs (“Flying While Intoxicated”), this just might be the movie you’ve been waiting for. Director Tommy O’Haver (“Get Over It”) clearly adores his film, and pursues each and every joke apparently unaware that other films have beaten him to the punch – recently too, which makes it even worse. Did I forget the farting giant scener Or when baby Ella urinates over her sister (played with a “get me outta here!” vibe by Minnie Driver)r I was trying to, but the utter insignificance of this motion picture must be declared in full. O’Haver even cribs a dreadful idea from Brian Helgeland’s “A Knight’s Tale” by having contemporary classics from Elton John, Aretha Franklin, and, the only truly royal element in this tale of princes and princesses, Queen, score the film.

The only piece that could be considered redeeming about the production is star Anne Hathaway. Her confidence, which has pulled her out from wrecks like “The Princess Diaries” and “Nicholas Nickleby,” eases the crushing blow of “Ella’s” laborious material, and she shines when O’Haver doesn’t have her singing and dancing (the director’s obsession it seems), or trying to make sense of the overused green screen that brings the quality of the effects down a notch or two. She’s great in a picture that doesn’t deserve her.

It’s bad enough that a “Shrek” sequel arrives in two months. Sitting through a worthless knockoff just creates an even bigger headache. The giants pick vegetables! Get itr Yeesh!

Rating: D-
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