Girls and their elders who love the young-adult book on which Ella Enchanted is based will turn into pumpkins waiting around for a prince-with-the-slipper finale: This version is sole-less. But the energy of Gail Carson Levine’s prose is replaced by something equally charming in director Tommy O’Haver’s (”Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss”) adaptation: the hoot and giggle of a girl-power fairy tale blended from potions of ”Monty Python,” ”Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” and ”Shrek.”
Saddled with the burdensome ”gift” of mandatory obedience by a loose-cannon fairy godmother (Vivica A. Fox), Ella of Frell (Anne Hathaway, the beaming who-ya-gonna-call of princess players) grows up at the frustrated mercy of anybody’s command. Naturally, a wicked stepmother (Joanna Lumley of ”Absolutely Fabulous” – who better?) and horrid stepsisters (Brits Lucy Punch and Jennifer Higham) take advantage of her pliancy; naturally, a dreamy prince (Hugh Dancy) sees through to the real Ella.
It apparently took a sorority of screenwriters to come up with an updated and more labored plot that now includes the prince’s evil uncle (Cary Elwes) and, for unnecessary Disneyfication, a talking serpent. But the sharpest jokes in this cheerily pudding-colored-looking production are visual and throwaway: The stepsisters read Damsel Zone and Medieval Teen magazine. The girls admire goblets at the Crockery Barn in the Galleria of Frell. The elves sing and dance like the teenage drama queens in Camp. Princesshood has rarely looked so tra-la-la gay.