Today, April 9, is a big day in movie history, and it's not just because it's the day, 15 years ago, that future classic chick flick Never Been Kissed was released. No, April 9 also marks the release of another teen classic, albeit one that's a bit more, um, magical: Ella Enchanted, the Anne Hathaway-starring fantasy rom-com, which, on Wednesday, celebrates its 10th anniversary.
For all those who were pre-teens in the early '00s, Ella Enchanted was kind of a huge deal. Based off Gail Carson Levine's beloved 1997 novel, the film had everything a kid of that era could possibly want: magic, Hugh Dancy, and, just coming off of The Princess Diaries, a then-idolized Anne Hathaway. For those who don't recall, Ella was a Cinderella re-telling, following Ella (Hathaway), a teenage girl trapped in a spell that causes her to be constantly obedient. When her mother dies, Ella is forced to hide the curse from her evil step-family, but when she falls for a handsome prince, she sets out to learn how to stop the spell from dangerously controlling her every action.
At the time, reviews for the movie weren't exactly great, but clearly, the critics didn't realize what a gem Ella would become over the coming years. Every time a re-run plays on TV, viewers are transported back to a time when Hathaway was adorable, Dancy wasn't Hannibal, and "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart" was the It song to cover. Still, those who haven't seen the movie since its 2004 release might be in for a shock next time they decide to give it a re-watch, as a whole lot has changed in ten years. A look back:
Anne Hathaway was Likable
Poor Anne Hathaway. The actress has had a tough few years in the press, thanks to those awkward awards speeches, comments about Les Mis ("when I saw it, I did cry"), and attempts to make "blergh" a thing again. After taking some much-needed time away from the spotlight, Hathaway's starting to get back in our good graces, but she has a long way to go before we deem her as lovable as she was in her prime: the early '00s. With 2001's The Princess Diaries, her first ever film role, Hathaway became an instant star, a sweet, bright-eyed newcomer whose endearing "who, me?" attitude about her sudden success echoed Mia Thermopolis' transformation from high schooler to princess.
Then, with Ella Enchanted, Hathaway was capitulated into mega-stardom. The film itself may not have done too well, but its effects on Hathaway's career were huge. Once again, audiences were reminded how adorably awkward the actress was, and when, just a year later, she effortlessly changed direction with Brokeback Mountain, the world recognized her as one of the brightest, most likable talents in the business. Flash forward nine years later, and "Hathahaters" is a thing.
Vivaca A. Fox had a Career
It wouldn't be a shock if Hathaway's not the only actress who wishes she could go back to her Ella Enchanted days. In the film, Lucinda, the fairy who gave Ella the "gift" of obedience, was played by then-famous Vivica A Fox. At the time of the movie's release, Fox's star was starting to fade, but she was still a frequent presence on screens big and small. She'd just come off of Kill Bill, was about to star in a Canadian TV show, and had all those Independence Day re-runs on TV every month. Ten years later, her Wikipedia informs us that she's "currently the host of the lifetime reality show Prank My Mom, where kids play pranks on their mothers." Oof.
Heidi Klum Played a Giant
Ella Enchanted featured several big names in small roles, including Minnie Driver and Jim Carter, but none stood out — literally — quite as much as Heidi Klum. For some inexplicable reason, the model played Brumhilda, a giantess who falls for an elf despite the duo's substantial height difference. There is absolutely no reason we can think of for why Klum took the role, except that perhaps she was real-life friends with Anne Hathaway and wanted to do her a solid; the two co-starred again, albeit briefly, in The Devil Wears Prada just a few years later.
The Soundtrack was Amazing
Well, amazing by '00s standards, anyway. Ella Enchanted's selection in music epitomized that era so perfectly that it's hard to believe 20-somethings don't have the CD constantly on repeat. Some choice selections: a duet of "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart" by Hathaway and Jesse McCartney; "True to Your Heart" by Raven-Symone; "Respect" by Kelly Clarkson; "Walking on Sunshine" by Jump5; and, of course, a rousing solo rendition of "Somebody to Love" by Hathaway. The soundtrack, like the movie, was ultimate early 2000s in the best/worst way possible.