Close up of Ella with a unicorn, rainbow, castle, and Ella and a Prince on horseback below her.


Title: Ella Enchanted
Released: 2004

Fix: Updated Fairy Tales
Platforms: HBOMax

Netflix Summary:

Burdened with the “gift” of obedience by a fairy godmother, Ella searches for a way to lift the curse that prevents her from pursuing her dreams.

FYA Summary:

Sometimes, fairy godmothers don’t bestow the most useful gifts. In the case of Ella of Frell, the “gift of obedience” she received when she was a baby has been nothing but a hindrance throughout her life. You see, Ella’s gift makes it so that she has to obey when someone tells her to do something, and when her mother passed away, she made Ella promise that she’d never reveal her secret.

Ella finally decides enough is enough, and sets out on a quest to find her fairy godmother. Along the way, she befriends an elf, charms Prince Charming and incites kingdom-wide reform. All in a few days work.

Familiar Faces:

Eric Idle as the narrator

Eric Idle has a great voice, and he puts it to use wisely—and snarkily—in this role.

Minnie Driver as Mandy

Mandy is a house fairy who’s not the greatest when it comes to magic. Minnie plays her as sweet and earnest, and she surprisingly good at the role. I suppose I’m used to her being a bit more brash? Or at least, she is in About a Boy, which I’ve seen more recently than any of her other parts.

Vivica A. Fox as Lucinda

Lucinda is a fairy godmother with the wardrobe of a Spice Girl and an, um, alcohol problem. She’s a mess, and kind of terrible. It’s a little sad how well Vivica plays the mean girl.

Anne Hathaway as Ella

Anne made a name for herself playing misfit young ladies who destiny have big plans for, and I adore her in this role in particular. I think it’s the first time I ever heard her really sing—long before that whole Les Misérables role won her that funny little statue.

Joanna Lumley as Dame Olga

I know Joanna is one of the two main characters in Absolutely Fabulous, but I’ve actually never seen the show—or anything else Joanna’s been in, I don’t think, so I have nothing to compare this role to. Dame Olga is a total wicked stepmother character, though, and I believe the Ab Fab ladies can be ruthless, so it probably wasn’t a stretch for Joanna to play.

Lucy Punch as Hattie

Lucy always seems to play a ditsy, manipulative blonde. Either Lucy’s being typecast or she’s just really good at playing this kind of role. Regardless, it doesn’t seem like playing Hattie was much of a stretch.

Parminder Nagra as Areida

Before Parminder became a TV drama star—she starred in ER and, most recently, Blacklist—she starred in another of my favorite movies, Bend it Like Beckham. Sadly, Parminder’s acting chops are very much downplayed in the role of Arieda. She’s a sweet girl, but that’s really about all there is to her.

Hugh Dancy as Char

Most recently, Hugh’s made waves as Will Graham on Hannibal. The character of Char is quite different than Will, however. For one, he’s much more mentally stable. For two, he’s much better with the ladies, minus Ella. I also don’t think Will has ever sung or danced, which is a total shame.

Cary Elwes as Edgar

I adore Cary in a villain role, and Edgar is very much evil. Cary is fantastic at pulling off the scheming, manipulative, mustache-twirling baddie.

Jim Carter as Nish

Nish the Ogre is a far cry from Downton Abbey’s Mr. Carson. Nish tries to eat people, and then there’s the whole blue skin thing. I’m pretty sure Jim Carter can pull off anything, however, with that sonorous voice of his.

Heidi Klum as Brumhilda

Even as a giant, Heidi is stunning.

Couch-Sharing Capability: High

Grab everyone you know and force them to watch this movie. Yes, even your 43-year-old cousin who lives in his parents’ basement and makes a living posting heavy metal covers of popular songs on YouTube. Even he will enjoy the film. (Or else.)

Recommended Level of Inebriation: Nil

You wouldn’t want to slur your words while singing along to the songs, now would you?

Use of Your Streaming Subscription: High

Once you’ve watched this at least once, you’ll realize that you must own it on DVD. And once you own it on DVD, and watch it at least every three months, you’ll realize you owe a particular streaming service a huge thanks for introducing you to one of your new favorite movies. Sure, it’s cheesy as all heck, and certain parts are so sweet that they’re almost cloying, but there’s something innocent and fun about it that it’s nearly impossible to resist its charms.

If you’re not already sold, I’ll leave you with this.

Mandy (she/her) is a manager at a tech company who lives in Austin, TX, with her husband, son, and dogs. She loves superheroes and pretty much any show or movie with “Star” in the name.