It looked cute, darn it. I can be as cynical as I want, act as elitist as I want, but when it comes right down to it I’m just as much a sucker for a cute fairy tale as I was when I was five. Perhaps it just means I’m a hopeless romantic at heart, but whatever the reason, I really, really wanted to see Enchanted.
It’s not quite like Shrek, which prided itself on being a screwy fairy tale. Rather, Enchanted starts out just like many other classic Disney animated fairy tales: wicked stepmother queen, handsome prince, beautiful girl in the woods. There’s singing, there’s talking animals, there’s a troll that needs vanquishing, and then there’s to be a hurried wedding after the handsome prince meets the beautiful girl. Of course, this is all in the first 10 minutes of the film.
Since one of the themes of Enchanted is that happily ever afters can really happen, is the movie a happily ever after for Disney? Does it mean the return to form of their classic fairy tale animated films, even though it’s got a real world twist?
Well…not quite. Maybe it’s nostalgia, but to me, Enchanted doesn’t match up to Aladdin or The Lion King, which are probably my two favorite Disney animated movies. (Of course, that’s not counting stuff done with Pixar…sad that I have to qualify that, isn’t it?)
However, it is really, really good, really, really entertaining, and really, really cute. It teeters on the verge of “cute enough to make you sick” a few times, but thankfully manages to rescue itself. That alone makes it more than worth the time spent in the theater, especially if you are a fan of fairy tales and princesses.
After Enchanted‘s heroine Giselle (Amy Adams) meets and falls in love with the “hero,” Prince Edward (James Marsden), they decide to get married the next morning. This doesn’t sit well with Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon), who wants to keep her crown. So, she turns herself into a crone and pushes Giselle into a wishing well, and Giselle finds herself crawling out of a manhole in the middle of New York City, which is about as far from her fairy-tale land as she can get.
That’s where she meets Robert (Patrick Dempsey), a single divorce attorney with a six-year-old daughter. Over the next couple of days, the perfect concept of “happily ever after” she’s had for her whole life may change to include a man and a world that are anything but perfect.
Like any Disney animated movie, this one employs songs, and uses them both in the real world and the animated world. Not only are the songs excellent, but the choreography in the real world is equally so. The dance sequence in Central Park to “How Does She Know” is especially memorable, and worth the price of admission alone.
The actors are also fantastic. James Marsden looks like he’s having a ball as the gallant and slightly oblivious Prince Edward. Susan Sarandon is absolutely brilliant as the evil queen, both visually and vocally. It’s almost a shame that her time in the real world is so limited, because she’s so much fun while she’s there.
And mention must be made of Patrick Dempsey and Amy Adams. Both do stellar work as the leads, with she being so naïve from her storybook world, and he being so firmly grounded in reality. Dempsey does a great job as a guy who’s both bewildered and intrigued by this sweet, possibly crazy lady who quite literally falls into his life. And Adams is equally good at taking a character whose bubbly innocence could get annoying and making her lovable and endearing.
At a time of year where we’re getting inundated with holiday movies and Oscar wannabes, Enchanted offers a breath of fresh air. It’s a traditional fairy tale with enough of a twist to keep it from being the same old thing. It’s well worth the time and money to see it at the theater, even on a weekend night.
From 2003 up until 2007, I was lucky enough to have “movie reviewer” as my job description. As such, I’ve built up a *lot* of reviews for just about every movie that came out during those years, as well as reviews of classic movies. This is one of the reviews I originally wrote during that time.