Two or three years ago, when we were in Greymouth on the West Coast, and it rained more than it didn’t, we stayed in our hotel room and caught up with most of what seemed a rather strange fairy tale movie, the name of which I didn’t catch. Turns out it was called Ella Enchanted, and it starred Anne Hathaway at her most gorgeous, Hugh Dancy and Cary Elwes, among others.
At the time I thought it was a bit peculiar: it just didn’t seem to work, and there were some very odd things about it. For instance, a number of biggish names (on the English scene anyway) turned up in it, but didn’t have much to do – or else their characters were woefully underwritten. Minnie Driver, for one, who doesn’t seem to know quite why she’s in the movie and Parminder Nagra, who turns up for a few minutes early on and isn’t seen again until she gets one shot at the end of the movie. It was as if she’d been in a lot more and then was cut out. I suspect the whole thing was originally a lot longer, and gave the actors some room to move. (As an interesting sideline, both Driver and Nagra later worked on ER for more than a season.)
The story’s quite fun, and the second time around I took the film as being entertaining but not particularly witty, although it plays the anachronistic note a good deal. Hathaway shows she has a talent for comedy, given the right sort of role, and does well with a part that isn’t always consistent in tone.
The scenery is an odd mix of real forest and locations, and studio ones: the latter sometimes being more beautiful than the real thing. You get the impression there was a bit of kerfuffle going on behind the scenes, and things didn’t work out the way they were intended.
When we first saw the movie, we’d never come across Lucy Punch before – she plays the older of the ugly sisters. Since then she turned up in the first season of Doc Martin, but for some reason didn’t stay in the following seasons, when a girl (Katherine Parkinson) who looks strangely like Punch, took over and played the role of her cousin – who basically does the same part. In fact, the two women are so similar that they could have replaced