Cinderella updated, with Anne Hathaway as the luckless teen Ella and Hugh Dancy as Prince Char. You see what they’re doing with the names? As with the names so with the film – it doesn’t quite work. For starters we have Hathaway herself – so sweet and milky she could double up as a bedtime drink. Then there’s the plot, which has Ella being given a special gift by her fairy godmother (Vivica A Fox). This “gift” is that she must obey any order she is given. This is someone’s idea of a clever feminist twist on the old story – girls and their constrained life choices – but it hamstrings the plot, slowing the action down to a crawl. Someone else’s big idea was to chuck in the best elements of Shrek and A Knight’s Tale – irreverent dialogue, wisecracking animals, songs from the 1970s (ELO and Leo Sayer fans, roll up). It’s not all grim though. The look of the thing, for one, is fun, fresh, bright and original, with everyone living in a futuristic primary coloured version of Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood. And there are some nice turns from the cast – Minnie Driver is on good form as a dizzy fairy who can’t get the spells right; Joanna Lumley is in Patsy-from-AbFab overdrive as the wicked stepmother with two indolent daughters. The feel is kids TV, there’s obligatory multicultural tokenism and the overall idea is that if the kids don’t buy the empowerment angle, they might be distracted by the bright lights and jangly music.
© Steve Morrissey 2004