WHY WE CARE


Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

YOUR STORIES


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"

SUPPORT THE WORK OF PLUGGED IN

Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

PLUGGED IN RATING

Watch This Review

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Movie Review

Born into a fancifully modern medieval world filled with magic, fairy dust and evil stepsisters, baby Ella is given the gift of obedience by her fairy godmother. As she grows up, though, she discovers it's more of a curse. It strips her of free will, and puts her at the mercy of unscrupulous family members and enemies. If she's told to "hop to it," the spell forces her to literally begin hopping to it.

Just like Cinderella, Ella's mother dies when she's young and her father marries a mean, status-obsessed intruder. Naturally, the woman brings with her two vile girls who use and abuse Ella's good nature and willing spirit. Then Ella meets her land's handsome prince, who's taken by her intelligence, forthrightness and outright refusal to fawn over him. She quickly realizes that if she's ever to wed this man of her dreams, she must break the curse that enslaves her to the mean-spirited whims of her unseemly family. So she sets off on a elf, ogre and giant-infused adventure to find her fairy godmother and beg her to take back her "gift."

Advertisement

Positive Elements

The story's narrator tells us early on that Ella's curse made her obedient, "but her heart made her kind." Indeed, Ella is a compassionate, friendly teen, filled with a lust for life and a passion for worthy—social—causes. One of the central themes of the film is her desire to see all people treated with dignity. She's dismayed that elves, giants and ogres aren't equal under the law, and goes to great lengths to rectify the situation.

After reading the film's synopsis—but before viewing it—I was concerned that Ella's "obedience curse" might be used to teach children that obedience is to be disdained and circumvented whenever possible. Thankfully, it isn't. Ella has a loving and respectful relationship with both of her parents. (Her response to her evil stepmother is less desirable, but it doesn't become a point of fixation.) The curse is used to illustrate the supreme value of free will, not a misguided desire to rebel.

As Ella searches for her freedom, she's quick to turn aside from her own path to help others on theirs. She (rather violently) lends aid to an imprisoned elf and orchestrates much-needed mediation between the human prince and the giants.

Spiritual Content

Fairies cast spells, animals talk, a man is trapped inside a book, ogres and elves exist, etc. No supernatural explanation is given for the movie's preternatural occurrences, they just happen because things like that always happen in fairy land. [Spoiler Warning] Ella ultimately breaks free from the bonds of her curse using willpower alone. While that means she doesn't summon up some dark force to lend her aid, it also means she sets an example of total self-sufficiency easily interpreted by young viewers as an admonishment to look inwardly rather than "upwardly" when the going gets tough.

Sexual Content

With the mindless adoration our culture associates with the crowds of females who strained to touch Elvis or the Beatles, this land's teenage girls pant after Prince Char. During a tour of the palace, they giggle over the idea that he gets naked to take his showers, and go so far as to lick the floor of the foyer in which he's walked. (They're sternly told to "stop tonguing the floor.") When the king instructs Ella to "shake her booty," she's forced to oblige. Several feminine medieval costumes reveal cleavage. Ella and Char kiss.

Violent Content

Pushing, shoving and biting. And a few more pointed conflicts usually involving ogres. To stop other humans from torturing an elf, Ella attacks them with spinning karate-style moves. After ogres capture Ella, but before they can lower her into a boiling cauldron, Char rides in with his sword and takes on the lot of them. A later sword fight has everyone from the prince to Ella to the guy in the book all fighting for their lives. A human is seen whipping an enslaved giant. A man is poisoned. Guards are attacked and neutralized during a prison break. And things get really tense when Ella, still under her spell of obedience, is ordered to stab a man to death.

Crude or Profane Language

No profanity. Parents of very young children should know that terms such as "moron," "idiot," "bite me," "numbskull" and "twit" are bandied about.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Giants drink at a wedding. Attending fairies get drunk; one is so intoxicated she falls off her (very tall) chair. Ella's fairy godmother is arrested for FWI (flying while intoxicated).

Other Negative Elements

Ella's sisters instruct her to steal items from the town's "mall." (One of the things she takes is a pair of glass slippers.) Instructed to pick flowers for her stepmother and sisters, Ella intentionally mixes poison ivy with them to get back at the women for being mean to her. An ogre's rear end peaks over the top of his low-hanging pants. An elf is knocked off a bench when a nearby giant breaks wind (creating a great deal of it).

Conclusion

Fairy tales deserve better treatment than this. It seems as though the filmmakers tried to do it up right. But that almost makes things worse. Sitting in the dark watching the tattered results of someone's hard work is considerably more depressing than watching someone else's couldn't-care-less shot at it. Don't misunderstand, there are numerous sugary cinematic treats to devour, such as when Cinderella's glass slippers show up at the mall, and Ella leads a teeny-bop political protest. Ultimately, the curse of Ella Enchanted is one of too many good ideas. It's a patchwork quilt on which the blocks are thrown haphazardly on top of each other rather than sewn skillfully side by side. It's The Princess Bride plus Ever After plus A Knight's Tale plus Shrek. And that many plusses, not quilted together carefully enough, end up a minus.

Themes are similarly jumbled. It's great to advocate the equality of all races (species, in this context) and show the value of free will, but the alternative given—to follow your own heart and look for strength within—is beyond trite, it's foolish. (Read 1 Corinthians 3, Psalm 18 and 119, Job 6 and Exodus 15 to see where our strength and wisdom should come from.) Still, admirable restraint in the areas of language, sex and violence will allow many families to succumb to Ella's silliness, and safely sort out the details afterwards.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

PG

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Anne Hathaway as Ella of Frell; Hugh Dancy as Prince Charmont; Cary Elwes as Sir Edgar; Aidan McArdle as Slannen of Pim; Joanna Lumley as Dame Olga; Lucy Punch as Hattie; Jennifer Higham as Olive; Minnie Driver as Mandy; Jimi Mistry as Benny the Book; Vivica A. Fox as Fairy Lucinda; Patrick Bergin as Sir Peter; Eric Idle as Narrator

Director

Tommy O'Haver ( )

Distributor

Miramax Films

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Steven Isaac

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!