Anne Hathaway is an actress who throws herself into every role, creating heartfelt and convincing characters. She has received numerous awards, including the National Board of Review Award for best actress and many more for best supporting actress, including for “Les Misérables” and “The Dark Knight Rises.” She has also acted in several other films that carry a lighter and more playful tone. While these may have been intended for a younger audience, anyone can enjoy these carefree and comedic movies.
Everyone knows the tale of Little Red Riding Hood. The various versions provide a variety of endings and while each version is unique, you’ve never heard it told like this. The animated film “Hoodwinked!” opens with pages flipping through a storybook to a popup forest and the confrontation at the end of the famous fairy tale: A woodsman wields his ax in Granny’s house in the woods, which is where the wolf has Red and Granny. However, the real story is more complicated than the original tale. The police roll onto the scene, and take the woodcutter, Wolf, Granny and Red in as suspects. Although the chief sees it as a cut and dry case, a private detective insists they hear everyone’s story.
Providing a glimpse into each character’s day, the movie looks back at each of their stories told from their own perspectives. The film also includes catchy songs, like “Be Prepared,” sung by a musical mountain goat. Hathaway voices Red, the main character of the film and her singing voice takes the spotlight in “Great Big World.”
In “Hoodwinked!,” Granny Pucket is famous for her goody company and Red helps deliver the sweet treats, but she dreams of being more than a delivery girl. One mystery underlies the entire movie: The Goody Bandit has been stealing dessert recipes, putting nearly every shop out of business. A threat on their store sparks Red’s adventure to Granny’s in the woods and over the mountains.
Most of the characters in “Hoodwinked!” are animals: the chief of police a grizzly bear, the private detective a frog and of course, the wolf. Only Red, Granny and the woodsman are human, which fits the enchanted fairy tale setting of the woods. Each character is dynamic, and comedic lines permeate the movie, especially that of Wolf’s friend, hyper squirrel Twitchy. A fun retelling, “Hoodwinked!” is a unique adaptation with unexpected twists and revelations.
2. “Ella Enchanted”
Cinderella, the kind girl who is treated so harshly and demeaned by her family. But what if she didn’t have a choice? When Ella (Hathaway) was an infant, her fairy godmother gave her the gift of obedience. Ever since, Ella was forced to do what she was told. After her mother dies, her aunt is the only one who knows of her secret gift. However, her father remarries and Ella gains a stepmother and two stepsisters, Hattie and dim-witted Olive. Ella quickly clashes with her new sisters. In one instance, at a public event, Ella and her friend begin to protest royal policies until Hattie tells Ella to go home. Forced to obey, Ella runs into the prince, Char, on her way back. While they share a connection, Hattie soon intrudes, once again telling Ella to leave. Hattie soon picks up on Ella’s obedience streak and begins using it to her advantage, pushing Ella on a search for her godmother to get rid of her gift.
Ella encounters elves, ogres and giants on her quest, and after Char joins her, he begins to see the realities of his kingdom as Ella inspires him to look at things from his people’s point of view. Featuring a mix of contemporary elements with a medieval setting, “Ella Enchanted” includes daring adventures as Ella learns how to fight for herself, in spite of her gift.
While the movie is based off the novel by Gail Carson Levine, it is not a faithful recreation. The characters, plot and tone are all different. However, the essential themes remain the same. The film is endearing and lots of fun. “Ella Enchanted” features distinct characters, each with their own desires and goals. Hathaway’s portrayal of Ella is confident, with a quick wit and a sharp tongue. Her authentic portrayal of the titular character draws the audience in and the amusing fairy tale twist provides a fresh telling of the timeless tale.
3. “The Princess Diaries”
The realistic-fiction film plays off every little girl’s dream: that she is really a princess. Based on Meg Cabot’s novel of the same name, the movie centers around Mia Thermopolis (Hathaway), an awkward high schooler who is afraid of public speaking and has a crush on the most popular guy in school. Little does she know, she is heir to the throne of Genovia, where her deceased father was prince. When her grandmother visits and enlightens her, Mia is anything but thrilled. Despite only wanting to graduate high school, she agrees to train to be a princess, which includes keeping her royal status a secret. However, just because she’s a princess doesn’t mean her life is a fairy tale. Mia goes through her own trials as she stumbles through the training and experiences a steep learning curve, compounded by her classmates’ reactions when her royal status becomes public knowledge.
“The Princess Diaries” is a coming-of-age story rife with character development and Hathaway provides the audience with a thorough transformation from shy and awkward to princess material. The audience sympathizes with her and can understand what she is going through — the wish to fit in and be normal, though it is harder than it seems. As Mia experiences growth, she begins to see things beyond just herself.
The movie is full of comedy — she’s an awkward high schooler, bound to bring laughs, but she is a realistic character, as are the people around her. Even minor characters have more than one side to them and many only have one line in the entire movie, which sticks out compared to modern-day movies. Although the film has some moments that exaggerate teen life, they only add to the overall quality and humor and hint at the drama that pervades teenage life.
“The Princess Diaries” also focuses on relationships. Mia has quality conversations with her mom, grandmother and best friend. Each relationship has its own trials and development. Of course, Mia also tries her hand at romance and she experiences challenges in every relationship as she figures out who she is and who she wants to be.
Each of these movies burst with Hathaway’s enchanting work and provide a lighthearted but heartwarming tale, completely worth remembering