An Open Letter: On Ella Enchanted

A fictionalized, semi-sarcastic narrative of Ella Enchanted's movie adaptation, written as a letter to the editors

As always, a spoiler warning is in effect from this moment forward.

To: The Producers of the Ella Enchanted adaptation

From: The Fairytale Enthusiast

Dear Producers,

I’m sure you recall Ella Enchanted — one of the many adaptations from years ago? As a reader who loved the original story, this film has … stuck with me over the years. The following is a list of every instance where I paused to compare it to the original, detailing the moment and its changes.

Please excuse any sarcasm evident throughout the narrative.

  1. Her mother’s death didn’t resemble its book counterpart in the least
  2. You made an interesting choice of mixing the modern and fantastical — it reminds me of the Shrek movies, especially when it comes to the music. The animation reminds me of something like Twitches from the early 2000’s. As for the costumes, I believe I’ve seen something similar on Amazon
  3. Why was there a narrator, considering the book is from Ella’s perspective?
  4. Why does Ella has a good relationship with her father? That was never present in the book, even though he was a merchant. As for her curse, I don’t believe there’s any tension with regards to how it affects her. It seems silly and harmless, instead of causing massive physical pain the moment she tries to disobey
  5. It’s interesting how you present her stepsisters. Compared to the ones from, say, Ever After, they strike me as silly and mindless, rather than cruel. And her stepmother is far from the sickly sweet woman in the book.
  6. Ella actually met Areida at finishing school. Actually, her whole character in general is very wrong
  7. Why cut out the finishing school plotline and replace it with that prep school scene? I mean, seriously — the finishing school plotline was pretty interesting
  8. Y’know, the whole “you can’t ever see Areida again” plotline makes sense, but … why not just keep that with the finishing school plotline? It would make a whole lot more sense
  9. In the book, Ella writes a letter to Areida and runs away so she doesn’t have to tell her face-to-face, which makes a whole lot more sense
  10. The whole evil uncle story. Just … no. And the evil snake who somehow finds himself in every situation and hears every convenient conversation. And also Char’s father being dead
  11. Ella being nothing more than a civil rights activist, rather than a fleshed-out character with both good qualities and faults
  12. EVERYTHING about the Char Fan Club
  13. Ella and Char’s relationship is … sort of right. At the very least, Ella calls him out for being an idiot, like in the book
  14. The “not like other girls” trope is awful!
  15. What’s with all the random British accents? Even Areida has one, and she’s not even from Frell!
  16. The entire concept of a talking spellbook named Benny that’s a fairy’s boyfriend because of a spell accident. Why not just keep the original magical book? At least it still has the moving, magical scenes
  17. Mandy’s not bad at magic! She’s just doesn’t do “big magic” because of potential unintended consequences!
  18. The map. EVERYTHING about the map. It makes her journey too easy! Also, that magic seems a whole lot like modern-day technology
  19. EVERYTHING about the Ella fighting scene. Also, Slannen
  20. EVERYTHING about the elves singing and dancing scene
  21. Slannen being Ella’s traveling companion. And all that’s associated with that. Can we get back to the plot, please?
  22. The entire meeting the ogre scene. What happened to the language stuff? Also, they’re not nearly scary enough. Yes, the prince rescuing her is accurate, BUT SHE IS SUPPOSED TO BE ON HER OWN!
  23. Everything about the ogre fight scene
  24. Get a move on to the giant wedding, Ella! That’s where you’re supposed to be going, not mooning over the prince!
  25. At the very least, Ella calls out Char for not being a good ruler. But these two have no chemistry, at all
  26. All right, it’s official. Char is an idiot
  27. The entire giant’s wedding scene. It’s … bad
  28. And Ella singing is just icing on the cake. And this song is WAY too on the nose. Oh no, and it just got worse with the dancing
  29. The kissing scene was … fine. Unnecessary, but fine. At least Char kind of understands that Ella’s under a curse, if only a little. But the way they get to the castle makes absolutely no sense. Also: the Char Fan Club returns
  30. The whole meeting-up-with-the-uncle thing. YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO EXIST, OBVIOUS BAD GUY!
  31. The library scene isn’t supposed to exist, this conflict between Char and his uncle isn’t supposed to exist…
  32. There are supposed to be three balls, it’s supposed to be about Char finding a wife… Although I do like the sentimentality of Char proposing to Ella the same way his father proposed to his mother. That at least is sweet
  33. Hattie and Olive working with the evil uncle. Just … no. And Ella, couldn’t you have asked Benny to show you Lucinda FIVE HOURS AGO?!
  34. Okay, the evil uncle finding out about the curse from Hattie … you’re turning Ella’s worst nightmare from the book into a reality. Fine. But … why couldn’t you keep what was in the book?
  35. The evil uncle toying with Ella and then ordering her to kill Char … okay, that kinda works? But it would work a whole lot better if he were actually intimidating. And him killing his own brother … wasn’t really a surprise
  36. Okay, Ella writing the letter to Char about them not being able to be together is fine. But what actually happens in the book is so much better! She actually betrays him and breaks his heart, despite breaking her own in the process, and I actually felt something!
  37. Ella chaining herself to a tree, then sending Slannen to find the elves and ogres? First of all, there are more magical creatures that I really wish you’d feature. Second of all, FOLLOW THE ACTUAL PLOT OF THE BOOK IF YOU’RE GOING TO CLAIM THAT YOU’RE BASED ON THE BOOK!
  38. Hattie dancing with Char … that’s in the book, but it makes way more sense. Also, the father would never be at the ball, and nor would the stepmother! And the father would never criticize her appearance because they’re both under a love spell from Lucinda!
  39. Ella’s meeting with Lucinda should’ve happened much earlier, she should’ve been speaking Ayorthaian, Lucinda dolling her up happens under way different circumstances with Mandy ACTUALLY BEING IN THE PICTURE…
  40. Ella getting to the ball is played for comedy … this isn’t supposed to be funny? The book is humorous in parts, but the overall story is so much more serious
  41. Okay, Ella bargaining with Char to try to get him to tell her he didn’t love her … that was the most Ella I’ve seen Ella be
  42. As inaccurate as it is, the Hall of Mirrors is pretty cool. But him proposing to Ella … first of all, Char already isn’t like himself. Second of all, him proposing is a much more rushed thing, and it’s in conflict with the stepmother which works so much better in the context of the story…
  43. Okay, the scene of Ella breaking the curse in the Hall of Mirrors, with all of the orders echoing around her … is wonderful. Her ordering herself to no longer be obedient … wow. Just … wow
  44. And back we go into stupid territory. Ella never tried to kill Char, so she was never stuck in prison, and the book ended soon after Ella broke her own curse. There was no unnecessary bad guy to defeat, bing bang boom, happily ever after. But no. This movie has to get rid of the big bad before everything can wrap up happily
  45. Okay, the evil uncle is actually conniving here, manipulating Char into thinking Ella orchestrated the entire “trying to kill him” thing. But Char should recognize by now that his uncle is evil! He’s not supposed to be this stupid!
  46. The scene with the ogres, elves and giants breaking into the castle, the music, the evil uncle poisoning the crown, one brief line from Ella … none of this is played for tension, at all. The central conflict is resolved—Ella has broken her curse—ergo the movie should be over. But no
  47. Breaking into the castle, the entire Red Guard thing … Ella and Char fighting the Red Guard together … Also, Mandy turning Benny back into a man
  48. Ella telling him everything makes sense now. Them confronting the evil uncle is fine. But can this movie please. Just. End?
  49. Okay, the evil uncle’s death doesn’t work. Him getting distracted by monologuing and then putting on the poisoned crown? And his last word being “Oops.”?
  50. Ella’s final confrontation with Hattie and Olive is so much more satisfying in the book, and her getting the necklace back is so much better too
  51. Oh, Areida’s back. That wasn’t explained. The father being at their wedding—I don’t think that actually happens in the book, but I could be wrong. Hattie and Olive definitely aren’t there
  52. The end narration, the ending song … Why is the stepmother here? And the evil uncle’s still alive?! This reminds me way too much of Gnomeo and Juliet

Whew, that was a lot.

In conclusion: taken on its own, Ella Enchanted is not the worst movie. But taken in the context of the book … it’s a thoroughly awful adaptation.

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