Those who have enjoyed Gail Carson Levine's Newberry Honor Book will find little that is familiar in the cinematic mauling of Ella Enchanted. The original story is a charming fairy tale about a young woman who finds herself and romance as she seeks to undo a curse that has plagued her since infancy. The filmmakers, apparently concerned that such a story would not find an audience, decided to "spice up" the material by adding a villainous, evil uncle (right out of Hamlet, no less); a regicide subplot; contemporary references; repeated, failed attempts at satire; a blatant anti-bigotry message; and plenty of pop songs. The result is an unappealing mess, made less bearable by uniformly lackluster performances and the cheesy special effects.
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